I recently had a chat with Grant Richmond, a freelance web developer that until last year resided in Dundee working at Fleet Collective, a co-working space that houses an array of creative individuals and companies. I saw Grant give a Pecha Kucha talk last year, he spoke about his work and some of the fun stuff he likes to create, then at the end he mentioned that soon he would be leaving to go it alone as a digital nomad, traveling and working at the same time. This was not the first time I had come across the concept, but it was the first time I had actually met, or at least identified someone local to myself that was taking on the new way of life. Sometimes it can be hard to relate with those already in the thick of it, with their archives of blogs posts and impossibly dreamy Instagram account. I thought it would be interesting to talk to someone that felt a little more familiar. His insights are short and sweet and to the point, which in the world of Digital Nomads where there seems to be a tendency to over glorify the good and sweep any bad under the carpet, Grant offers an honest review of his experiences.
When and where did you first come across the concept of being a Digital Nomad?
Met a guy around 2 and a half years ago at a conference who was doing it
What made you decide to take the plunge?
Mostly boredom. I felt I was stuck in the rut of work to home and back to work again with nothing really exciting going on. So it was either time to do something serious and adult-like by improving my business or getting on the property market or something, but was not really ready for that so decided I would run away and do that stuff later
What do you do? Has your occupation transferred well to a more remote way of working?
Freelance web developer. The majority of my work was remote already so there has been zero issues.
What does a typical day look like?
Not much different than most people I think. I (occasionally) get up in the morning and go for a run for fitness and exploration, then head into the co-working space and work around 10-5. I eat out way more often than I used to since it can be quite cheap depending where you are. The evening is either spent relaxing inside or out depending on the weather or heading to a meetup or with friends (if I've managed to make any in the location)
As a digital nomad, how do you keep yourself motivated to get your work done on the road?
No work = no money. Same as at home
What’s the best things about being a digital Nomad?
Total freedom. Don't like a place? Just leave! Love somewhere? Stay longer or come back. Also really enjoying the minimalism of having so little possessions.
Whats the biggest pain in the ass bout being a digital nomad?
It can be lonely. If you're not happy in your own company it could be hard. Also you make friends with people and then leave.
Where’s the coolest place you’ve worked from?
Hmm, didn't really do any work but I stayed in an old soviet nuclear fallout bunker for a few days in between more permanent locations
Do you think the Digital Nomad movement might mean the death of the office?
Nope. People like offices. It's a requirement for certain types of businesses too
Have you worked in a co-working space and how beneficial have you found spaces like this being a digital nomad?
Almost all the time. They are great for motivating me and preventing me from sitting on youtube or something all day
So loads people are quitting their jobs to become a digital nomad, but do you think it is possible to just skip the office part? Do you think you need the grind of a regular 9-5 before to really appreciate work on the road?
Na, if you're happy and have enough money to survive then who cares?
Any future plans? Do you think you’ll always work nomadically?
Absolutely no clue! I know where I'll be for the next few weeks but after that I don't know. I'm thinking I might head somewhere inexpensive for a few months and save up to do a massive road trip around northern / central America
Any tips for newbies looking to redefine work from themselves? Is there anything you wish you had known before starting out?
There is a lot of hype and nonsense surrounding the "Digital Nomad" lifestyle. Read about the positives and negatives (of which you can find a lot of writing as one of the first rules about being a digital nomad is you have to blog about being a digital nomad :P). And do a test run for a month or 2 so you can go back if it's not for you.