The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has forced many people to change the way they live and work but has also given remote workers the opportunity to relocate and tap into the benefits of digital nomadism.
Digital nomads are people that travel intensively and “take” their job with them.
In recent years, the term “remote worker” has emerged stronger, referring to people that work remotely as independent professionals or for a company, but do not constantly travel.
Since early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has created a new kind of digital nomad: This is a person that works remotely (usually) for large corporations and temporarily relocates but will probably continue to travel after the pandemic subsides.
A significant change
This new trend is considered by travel and labor experts as one of the most significant changes in the way people work and travel globally.
“It is one of the greatest shifts that we’ll probably see in our lifetime,” said David Williams, co-founder and CEO of NomadX , a global co-living marketplace for digital nomads, remote workers and digital professionals.
Williams participated in a panel discussion titled “Is Greece attractive for digital migrants?” that was recently held online during the “Greece: Competing for global talent” virtual event.
“It is also a great opportunity for countries to adopt new visa policies and attract remote workers. There are so many remote workers around the world at the moment, and many wish to become digital nomads,” he added
According to Williams, there are around 10 million digital nomads in the United States at the moment.
Moreover, the number of digital nomads is expected to reach 1 billion globally by 2035.
What do digital nomads seek?
Southeastern Mediterranean destinations such as the Canary islands and Portugal have attracted a large number of digital nomads during the last few years. They are considered ideal destinations for offering a number of key incentives.
Further analyzing the market, Goncalo Hall, co-founder of Remote Work Movement Podcast referred to the “tools” that digital nomads seek for in a destination. These are:
– high-quality internet
– communities of like-minded people
– opportunities to mingle with locals
– affordable housing
– government incentives and
– partnerships with local businesses and international companies.
Hall’s company provides interviews of outstanding people doing their best work, remotely.
Is Greece attractive for digital nomads?
Referring to Greece’s potential, David William said the country is considered a phenomenal location for digital nomads due to its climate, history and other comparative advantages.
Citing data from NomadX’s social media community counting 12,000 active members, Williams said that most digital nomads working from Greece are based in Athens, as well as on the islands of Rhodes, Santorini and Mykonos.
However, he stressed that digital nomads working from Greece are up against significant challenges including poor infrastructure and slow wifi connection; insufficient taxi services; unaffordable housing; lack of government incentives and niche-friendly options for non residents.
In order to overcome these obstacles and move forward, Greece should build a digital nomad community with the support of the public and private sector, according to Goncalo Hall. He added that the public sector could offer the necessary infrastructure while private bodies could provide their knowhow.
Nacho Rodríguez, founder of repeople.co, agreed with Hall.
“Greece features a large tourism industry which has obviously stopped due to the pandemic. All economies that depend on tourism are looking for alternatives. Attracting talent and remote workers can work as a substitute for tourism,” he said during the same event.
What needs to be done?
According to Rodríguez, if Greece manages to take the necessary steps and create a digital nomad community, reform taxes and infrastructure, and build an integrated package, it will be able to attract digital nomads.
Repeople.co is a company working with digital nomads on the Canary Islands.
Greece: Gov’t efforts and initiatives
Attracting remote workers has become a priority for the Greek government in recent months.
Speaking during the same event, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis referred to the progress that has been made with the roll out of advanced 5G technology in Greece, and the introduction of tax incentives for digital nomads.
In addition, Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis referred to the launch of a business visa for entrepreneurs that wish to visit Greece and establish business relations and partnerships; and a student visa for students that wish to tap into the educational opportunities offered in Greece.
Varvitsiotis also announced the establishment of an integrated digital service for digital nomads looking to relocate to Greece.
The “Greece: Competing for global talent” virtual event was organized by the Delphi Economic Forum.