Iremember the first time I stumbled across the blog of a “digital nomad” – let’s call him Jake. Jake was a 30-year-old copywriter, living in Bali at the time, who ran his business from wifi-connected cafés in the morning, with surf lessons in the afternoon. “Doesn’t this sound great!” I exclaimed to my then editor, after greedily reading about the other fabulous locations he’d been simultaneously working in and exploring.
“Pah”, he replied cynically. “That’s just code for ‘someone else is bankrolling me while I pretend to make a living’.”
I refused to be swayed. Even if “Jake” was a fake, was it really that implausible to run a business from a dreamy exotic location? After all, as long as you have a power source, internet and coffee, does it make a difference if you’re checking emails in an office, or from a gorgeous leafy café in Chiang Mai (the world’s leading hub for digital nomads).
Actually, strike that, of course there’s a difference
– and I know which one sounds preferable.
When you think about it, business travellers were the early pioneers of “digital nomadism”, before it got its hipster terminology. Travelling the world with a brick-like Compaq, while working on the go from whatever mobile office/hotel room you found yourself in, is what you’ve all been doing for years.
But the fresh take on the concept has undeniably revolutionised its appeal. Gone are the days of a solitary work desk in a lonely hotel room; now it’s about purpose-built social hubs, ready-made communities of like-minded innovators, and stimulating work environments. And the trend is growing.
First we had a wave of cool “millennial hotels” – hip new brands with tech-focused appeal, social spaces, trendy bars and funky, creative interiors (think Hotel Jen, Aloft, Moxy, Hyatt Centric and Citizen M, etc).
Next, we saw a crop of co-working spaces: cool, communal hubs in vibrant cities attracting young tech moguls, creatives and entrepreneurs. These communities create a breeding ground of innovation and networking – a win for business – while offering individuals flexible, engaging and inspiring work environments… a win for workers.
Admittedly, for business travellers, dropping into these hubs for the odd afternoon may prove too timeconsuming to be of real benefit, but the latest iteration of this trend is a game changer. Enter the co-working hotel: a new craze of accommodation-cum-working hotspots that make life on the road a dream. Find out more in our feature “Workation mode” on page 64.