Digital Nomads

Original by Joe for the Dell Digital Nomad Blog:

As a digital nomad myself I’ve found that despite the wonders of an “almost always connected” environment there remain challenges in the motivation and attention departments. The ability to do work on the road pretty much from anywhere andactually doing work from anywhere are not – exusing the pun – even remotely the same two things. In fact it is important to be mindful of one of the classic pitfalls of being a digital nomad which is using the power of the ubiquitous workspace to put off “until later” work that is best done from the office – e.g. work that may require paper or personal documents or information histories that are unavailable online.   The ability to work 24/7 should not distract you from the fact you cannot work 24/7, and need to manage your time effectively regardless of your work environment.

Yet the productivity pitfalls for the remote workforce pale next to the productivity advantages. A workforce of digital nomads can use downtime in airports and waiting for meetings to check email, make calls, and conduct other follow ups. Unlike their counterparts who are chained to an office desk at a single location, the digital nomad travels fully equipped to handle most if not all the demands of their job from pretty much any location.  A Customer complaint needs handling in real time? Call them and email follow up online information and links to support the troubleshooting.   Here the customer will be impressed with your “”From the road” response, knowing that you are there for them all the time.   Is a server down?  Remote reboot from a laptop with EVDO card or over coffee at a WiFi hotspot at the coffee shop or airport.

An example of a digitally nomadic benefit I experienced last year came while covering CES 2008 – the massive Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.  I often worked  from the blogger lounge, using online tools and blogging combined with Treo picture uploads to cover several sessions and product launches almost in real time.  In some ways I was working faster and covering more topics  than most of the thousands of “old school” journalists at the event.

When GM CEO Rick Wagoner released the Cadillac Provoq on the Keynote stage I was one of the first – if not the very first – to have pictures online since I could take the shot and then upload and caption it from my second row seat at the Venetian Ballroom.

In summary I’d suggest that productivity is more a function of the worker and how they are motivated than which tools they choose to use, but certainly companies large and small should always look for the best ways to digitally enable their workforce, empowering them to work effectively … anytime and everywhere.

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