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New oDesk Survey Shows That the Digital Nomad Lifestyle Is Here to Stay

REDWOOD CITY, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 4, 2014) - oDesk, a leading marketplace for online work, today announced results of a new survey, "Digital Nomads: A Revolution in Work Freedom." Findings of the survey validate a surge in Digital Nomads -- people who are living life as an adventure, empowered by technology to break free of the constraints of physical workplaces. Also debuted today, this film on Digital Nomads brings the survey's results to life.

Key survey results show:

  • Decreasing ties to actual offices: Of the almost three quarters (74%) who made a change to be less tied to a physical workplace, 67% became a freelancer and 34% created a virtual business or team.

  • Increasing happiness: Since becoming less tied to a physical workplace, 92% said they're happier (vs. 6% no change and 2% slightly less happy).

  • A surge of Digital Nomads: 39% said they now consider themselves a Digital Nomad and of these, almost half (45%) became nomads in just the past year.

  • A sustainable new lifestyle: Digital Nomads saw an increase in income (59%, vs. 17% with no income change after "going nomad" and 24% with a decrease). 79% said they expect to be a Digital Nomad for the rest of their life.

Technology is empowering professional freedom
More than 9 in 10 professionals surveyed agreed that "technology is making it easier to work wherever you want," and 82% agreed that "the Internet is freeing us to live life how we want (versus where we need to be for work)." Around the world, almost 3 billion people have online access today. This access creates an unprecedented opportunity for people to work together regardless of where they happen to be.

With this opportunity comes professional empowerment -- 81% agreed that people increasingly expect flexibility in how they work. In fact, a prior oDesk survey found that a wave of people were planning to quit their jobs in order to be entirely independent (72% of those who had started freelancing said they'd like to quit their "regular" jobs, and 61% said they would within 2 years).

Introducing Digital Nomads
Almost 40% said that they would consider themselves Digital Nomads already. To ensure a common understanding, "Digital Nomad" was described in the survey as someone who "tries to live life as an adventure and take work with them as they go, rather than letting work dictate their path, typically loves to travel and has broken free of some of the confines of traditional work."

"I saw this explosion of location independence take hold over the past year or so," said Shawn Matthews, Chief Creative Officer of Tractive West, a video production agency and creator of the Digital Nomad film. "Because of this movement, I was able to use an entirely virtual film crew."

No looking back
In addition to generally earning a higher income and being happier, results also showed that those who had made a change to be less tied to a physical workplace became more productive (79% said they were more productive vs. 13% no change and 9% less productive).

"People are ditching their desks rapidly, but they're by no means neglecting their careers," said Matt Cooper, oDesk VP of International. "I meet Digital Nomads as I travel the world myself, and it's clear that these people are thriving and more productive than ever, since they love living their adventure as they want, versus where they need to be for work."

"I think that 10 years from now this absolutely will be the norm," said Jay Shapiro, CEO of Infinite Monkeys, a virtual business he runs while traveling the world. "There are so many reasons why being a Digital Nomad is a great way to work."

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted among 847 oDesk customers, both businesses and freelancers. The sample was pulled from oDesk's database, and limited to English-speaking countries in order to ensure understanding of key terminology (such as "Digital Nomad"). All professionals were surveyed online and had been active on oDesk's online workplace within the past 180 days.

About oDesk
oDesk is a leading online workplace that enables the world's best talent and businesses to work together, regardless of location. Over one million businesses and five million freelancers, offering any type of skill that can be done via the Internet, are registered on oDesk. In 2013, oDesk reached more than $1 billion of work completed cumulatively via its platform. oDesk is a registered trademark of oDesk Corporation.

Headquartered in Redwood City, Calif., oDesk is a privately held company. For more information, visit oDesk.com and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.