Are You A Digital Nomad? Do You Want To Be One?

Unless you are one yourself, you might not be familiar with the term “digital nomad”.

Rest assured, you soon will be.

They’re taking over the working world, and you could soon be joining them.

A digital nomad is defined as someone who works remotely and travels at the same time. Before COVID hit the planet, much of that travel was done on a global level, from country to country. For many Kiwi nomads, Asian destinations like Bali or Thailand were popular destinations thanks to the low cost of living but with lower international airfares, the whole world was a potential office. As long as you had a reliable internet connection and a place to work, you could do the business in Bangkok, work in Warsaw, or be productive in Prague.

While the world isn’t quite as open at the moment, there is still every opportunity to be a digital nomad within the not-so-confining confines of New Zealand.  As the classic advertising campaign of the 1980s said: don’t leave town ‘til you’ve seen the country. Now that you can’t actually “leave town”, you might as well see the country and as a digital nomad you can continue to work while you do it.

Pre-COVID, global statistics showed that nearly 25% of all employees were taking the opportunity to work remotely, while the number of companies totally staffed by off-site workers was also increasing. Post-COVID, it’s obvious that the number of remote workers has risen dramatically and given them a taste of working life away from the office. That’s one of the few silver linings about COVID – it has shown employees and employers that the conventional office space is not necessary to maintain output. If anything, it improves it.

Studies have shown that remote work can lead to increased productivity, with Stanford University research suggesting that digital nomads are 13% more productive than their in-office counterparts, and take fewer sick days as well. This is probably connected to all the advantages of working away from the office; a better work-life balance, lower stress levels, and no or reduced commute to name just a few.

Moving from place to place as a digital nomad takes the flexibility of remote work one step forward. As we’ve said, all you really need to become a digital nomad is a reliable internet connection and a good place to work.  Coworking spaces offer both, and with enterprises like ours now commonplace all over the country, it is possible to travel throughout New Zealand to mix business with pleasure. And soon, with any sort of luck, that combination could be enjoyed worldwide.

How Working At Home Affects Collaboration

Is working at home all it’s cracked up to be?

While it is a dream existence for many, there are just as many who struggle with it.

A lot of those people are currently having a better time of it at our coworking spaces! They enjoy working remotely but found that doing it at home was an isolating and unproductive experience.

A recent survey strongly suggests they’re far from alone.

The survey’s respondents were 600 professional office employees across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. The study was done in two parts: just before the COVID lockdowns began when employees were still in their office, and during the lockdowns when they were working at home. The survey was quite specific in its intent: it was set up to study how working at home affected collaboration in three key areas:

  1. The ability to meet and brainstorm
  2. The ability to maintain social relationships
  3. The ability to have unplanned interactions.

With this in mind, the findings from the survey were revealing and backed up what a lot of our clients say about the downsides of working at home. The findings were:

  • The ability to meet and brainstorm dropped an average of 11 % for all respondents since they began working from home during the lockdowns. For employees whose roles rely on collaboration, the drop was even larger and went up to as much as 15 %.
  • The ability to maintain social relationships declined 17 % percent for all respondents since working from home. For employees who have friendly ties to their colleagues the drop was more substantial, ranging from 20 to 26 %.
  • The ability for unplanned interactions dropped by a whopping 25 % on average. Employees who were used to collaborating in close-knit team environments stated that the decline was even larger, as high as 40 %.

In our coworking spaces, we welcome people who want to work remotely but not in isolation.

They want collaboration, a social setting and to be surrounded by people rather than family pets. As those survey findings show, they’re far from alone in wanting those things and that is why spaces like ours give them the best of both worlds; the ability to work remotely without feeling too remote about it all.

How To Be A Good Coworker

One question on our FAQ page asks:

I love eating old fish. Can I?

The answer is no.  (To be more precise: nope)

If you’re the sort of person who even needs to ask about eating old fish, then we hate to break it to you but you’re probably not going to be a great coworker. At Genius, our coworkers respect those around them and, to be fair, there isn’t much that’s respectful about eating old fish.

While we’re on the subject, we might as well go over a few of the other things that make a coworker a good one.

Good coworkers turn up. By doing so, they become an integral part of our community and we value them for it.

Good coworkers seek out those with common interests and are keen to learn from them, and eager to share their knowledge as well.

Good coworkers also seek out those with who they have little in common. It’s all about appreciating that everyone has different strengths and skills. Our tightknit community becomes even closer as a result.

Good coworkers keep the volume down when they’re taking phone calls. They’re aware that a loud voice does not a harmonious coworking space create.

Good coworkers clean up after themselves. Those that don’t must wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the words: Your Mother Doesn’t Work Here, Clean Up After Yourself.

Good coworkers laugh politely at lame jokes like: Your Mother Doesn’t Work Here, Clean Up After Yourself.

Good coworkers offer advice and a helping hand when others need it.

Good coworkers attend events and social gatherings in the interests of camaraderie.

Good coworkers smell nice. No one wants to be known as a BOworker.

Good coworkers treat other workers with kindness and respect. (Not eating old fish within 100 metres of them is a big part of this, just saying.)

Good coworkers put things back where they took them from.

Good coworkers respect each other’s space.

If you could sum up everything on that list and express it in one word, it would be this one: consideration.

In three words, it would be this: consideration for others.

Our coworking space brings together people from all walks of life. Some are shy, some are extroverts. Some work in creative fields, some are involved in less colourful pursuits. Some bring a packed lunch, others go out. It’s all of our differences that make us the great community we are, but consideration is the common thread that ties us together. If you can grasp that concept without having to grab a dictionary to see what “consideration” actually means, then you’ll feel right at home here.

The Psychology Of Coworking

In a practical sense, we know how coworking actually works. People from all walks of life come together in a shared space and they work. That’s how it works where we cowork anyway. But there are probably some of you who would like to know how coworking works in a psychological sense.

Good question.

Sit back and relax as we attempt to give you some sort of sensible answer.

In our experience, the psychology of coworking, and how our members make it work for them, can be broken down into four areas.

They are less stressed: What we try and create is an environment where everyone is welcomed, and where they are comfortable.  We’re not control freaks, micro managers, or bullying bosses. Instead, we’re providers of a coworking space where people are able to be themselves, and where our members work to their own pace and agenda. In this less stressful environment, our members do their best work.

They have more control: Working in a conventional office can seem like being back in school with everyone sitting at their designated desks and under a state of constant supervision. In this authoritarian setting, they’re expected to perform yet having someone looking over your shoulder is actually counter-productive. On the other hand, our members achieve so much more in a co-working environment because it is communal and democratic, and feels more like home than school, or an office.

They’re part of a community: We see our coworking spaces as small communities. That’s very important to us, and to our members. Corporate work environments can be competitive places, and the interactions can seem forced, yet co-working spaces allow our members to meet like-minded people who have the same attitudes, interests, and struggles. This is a fantastic way to grow personal or professional networks while having other people around them that are actually working is a great motivator.

They work when they’re feeling productive: Productivity doesn’t keep office hours, and neither do we. Our memberships are designed to be flexible and we offer access outside traditional office hours by prior arrangement. This fits in with the needs of our members who work at their best while others are taking it easy. Hey, we’re a community and we’re all different in how we work.

The psychology of coworking works for us.

It makes perfect sense and explains why our members are a productive and happy lot.

We’re thrilled we can create an environment where they can do their best work, at a time and pace that suits them.

Coworking characters – Which one are you?

Our coworking spaces feature a diverse cast of characters. It’s what makes our world go round. Without different personalities from all sorts of backgrounds, things around here would be far less interesting. We don’t want that.

We want to create a vibrant and colourful community.

A bit like Woodstock but with better toilet facilities.

If you’re curious about joining us, and even more curious about some of the characters you’ll encounter while you’re here, let us make a few brief introductions.

1. Introverts

There’s this misguided notion that you have to be the outgoing type to be a member of a coworking space. Actually, that’s not true. We have a few quiet and shy types working with us. They tend to hire space in broom cupboards where no one will see them. Actually, that’s not true either.

2. Extroverts

They’re outgoing but not unbearable. Our resident extroverts appreciate that this is a working space and they subdue the volume so everyone can work. Their shirts are often louder than they are.

3. Hipsters, hopsters and hamsters

We love our hipsters and our hopsters. (Hopsters are just like hipsters but with an added fondness for craft beer. So we probably love them a little bit more than our hipsters, just quietly.) But we don’t love hamsters, so please leave them at home.

4. Corporate types

They dress like they mean business.

5. Creative types

They dress like they’ve just dived into a pool of Dulux colour charts.  They often borrow shirts from our extroverts.

6. Coffee snobs

Go and ask them if they’d like a cup of International Roast. Go on. We dare you.

7. Really, really brainy people

Smart people doing PHDs and Masters and Doctorates and brainy stuff like that. They’re so bright we no longer need light bulbs.

8. Night owls

These are the people who come in while everyone else is leaving. (We’re not brave enough to ask what they do while no one else is looking.)

9. Social animals

These are the people who start talking about Friday night drinks from about Tuesday morning. If you need directions to the bar, you know who to ask.

10. Circus animals

No. That would be politically incorrect. Besides, elephants wouldn’t fit through the door. (We’ve tried)

11. Celine Dion fans

We’re not allowed to discriminate so yes, they’re here too. All one of them.

In our coworking spaces, diversity is unity.

We join together in an inclusive community, and even though there’s a “chalk and cheese” element about our membership, it works.

Just why it works?

Well, we haven’t figured that out yet. I guess we should ask our really, really brainy people.

2020 Trends Shaping Coworking Spaces

It’s fascinating to see how our coworking spaces have evolved.

Although coworking is still a relatively recent phenomenon, it’s been around long enough for us to observe trends and changes. We’re not the only keen observers. COVID-19 shifted workers from their usual office to their home office. For many, that shift is an ongoing one, and remote working is a way of life.

Working from home is a way of life that doesn’t sit too comfortably with many of them. While the change of scenery and novelty factor might have been energising to start with, the lack of social contact from working with other people has left them feeling down. That’s why they’re checking us out and calling us.

Most ask us two key questions:

Do you have real people coworking there? (Why yes, yes we do.)

What’s a coworking space like in 2020? (How long have you got?)

To answer that second question, we usually point to the trends that are shaping the global coworking model in 2020. They give our potential clients a vivid picture of what life is like in coworking spaces right now, or what might happen in the near future. Here are the big four that we’ve noticed.

Smaller Spaces Are Thriving

Worldwide, there is a trend towards “coworking conglomerates”: large companies that run coworking spaces like branches. These spaces are generic, and one is virtually identical to the other. At the other end of the scale, there are some smaller players who won’t reach the same scale, and who don’t aspire to anyway. They do offer something different though, and that is variety. For example, they might provide a career-specific type of space, or work closely with local businesses in their neighbourhood, or bring more of a sense of community and inclusion to the coworking space (like us!).

Whatever the niche, coworking spaces that do something a little different are thriving.

A Space For Startups

Coworking spaces and startups are naturally suited. The space we provide is affordable and used on an “on-demand” basis. These things make it perfect for new companies that need to keep their overheads low while giving them access to the professional services they need, e.g. fast wi-fi, meeting rooms, event spaces.

This is why an increasing number of startups are moving into coworking spaces as they begin their operations, and why coworking spaces are actively reaching out to startups at the same time.

More Add-on Services

Coming soon to coworking spaces near you: a more diverse range of services. While offering space-as-a-service is the foundation of any coworking enterprise, there is a trend towards adding other revenue streams and services, including business coaching, on-site restaurants and cafes, and IT services.

The Sense Of Community Is Growing

One of the biggest trends is community outreach, where coworking spaces look to associate with the local business community. In some cases, this is done to get local businesses to purchase memberships for employees, or to attract freelancers and remote workers away from cafes and other spaces.

Our approach towards community is slightly different.

As far as we’re concerned, a community is something we’re creating from within.

It’s important to us.

We celebrate the diversity of our members, and as more remote workers join us, and from all sorts of backgrounds, our community becomes an even more interesting and inclusive one.

No matter what new trends shape our coworking spaces in the future, our sense of community will never change.