The pandemic was the catalyst for the remote work revolution. While many companies are now asking employees to spend some days in the office in a hybrid work style, there is no going back.

An increasing number of people are prioritizing the ability to work remotely, and a number of those are choosing to travel while working, joining the growing number of digital nomads.

According to a recent report by MBO Partners, one billion people worldwide will be classified as digital nomads by 2023.

This doesn’t necessarily mean people traveling full-time, moving from country to country or city to city every few months. It could be someone who chooses to travel a month or two each year while working or someone who lives long-term in another country on something like a digital nomad visa.

As digital nomads start to make up a significantly higher portion of the workforce, they will inevitably influence how we work. What impact can we expect digital nomads to have on how we work and live in the future?

These are my big predictions for 2023.


1. Digital Nomads Will See Different Cities Rise

Traditionally, people have flocked to big cities with varied employment opportunities. This is why cities like London and New York have become so large, and demand for housing and services means that the cost of living in those cities is high.

Initially, it was believed that remote working could defuse the influence of these big cities, as remote workers can now live in cheaper areas and more distributed across states and countries while still working for the big companies with offices in cities like San Francisco or Sydney.

But while digital nomads do chase a more affordable cost of living, they still tend to gravitate towards hubs rather than rural areas. Big digital nomad communities are emerging in places such as Bali (Indonesia), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Lisbon (Portugal), Tbilisi (Georgia), and Medellin (Columbia).

Therefore, while we may see a pause in growth in established hubs like New York and Los Angeles, we are unlikely to see workers spreading across rural areas. Instead, they will form new hubs based on criteria such as an established digital nomad community, good connectivity, affordable cost of living, liveable cities, access to nature, and beneficial visa conditions.

While these digital nomad hubs have been emerging naturally over the last 20 years, we are likely to see more countries constructing these conditions to attract digital nomads to invest in the economy.


2. More Companies Will Adopt Work from Anywhere Policies

We are already seeing companies adopting remote-first policies and investing in tools that enable teams to collaborate remotely. However, many companies are still unprepared for employees who work from anywhere, as they don’t have policies in place for managing related tax and social security contributions.

But as talent increasingly wants the flexibility not only to work remotely but to travel while working, companies are likely to develop work-from-anywhere policies. This will be key to attracting and retaining talent. Plus, as leading companies make the transition, smaller companies will have templates that they can adapt and follow.

These changes will be key to normalizing digital nomadism.


3. More and Better Digital Nomad Visas Will Become Available

As the number of digital nomads increases, more countries will release digital nomad visas to attract these high-spending individuals to invest in their economy, while using visa conditions to control their activity within the country.

However, the minimum required income for digital nomads may increase. We are already seeing this in the case of new digital nomad visas emerging in Asia. The minimum income for the Thailand digital nomad visa is US$80,000, in Japan and South Korea, it is roughly US$65,000. This reflects countries becoming more selective and prioritizing high-worth individuals likely to spend more in the local economy.

The lower-paid remote workers who currently have access to DNVs on incomes around US$2,000 per month are likely to be pushed out of the system.

Visas are also likely to develop clearer conditions around things such as tax liability and social security contributions as systems adapt to better accommodate the increasing number of digital nomads.


4. There Will Be Proliferation of Coworking Spaces

The number of coworking spaces, the growth of which has plateaued since the end of the pandemic, will continue to grow as digital nomads look for flexible workspaces that enhance productivity.

These spaces are likely to become more sophisticated, providing both hot desks for remote workers and flexible office spaces for emerging companies that choose not to have permanent office space. Virtual office facilities such as mail management are also likely to become standard services.

More coworking spaces are also likely to offer special services, such as pods for work calls and media studios for podcasters and videographers. There is also likely to be an increased focus on community building through networking events and well-being activities such as yoga and meditation.


5. The Property Market Will Change

The rise of digital nomads will also likely change the property market, especially in the most popular digital nomad hotspots.

In the short term, locals will be priced out of property markets as an increasing number of central buildings are repurposed for short- and medium-term accommodation for digital nomads. This will also lead to gentrification as more businesses open to service digital nomad communities, resulting in increased inequality.

Governments will experiment with a variety of policies to control the amount of housing that is dedicated to short-term accommodation while still attracting digital nomads into the community.

In the longer term, demand for houses in richer countries may drop as large numbers of digital nomads stop prioritizing investing in property and setting down roots. They are likely to invest in other commodities. This may see house prices drop and the unraveling of the value that many cultures place on owning your own home.


6. We Will Start Talking Differently About Work-Life Balance

An increasing number of studies show that digital nomadism is good for you, as it reduces stress, increases productivity, and improves satisfaction. While we are already seeing increased importance placed on jobs that are fulfilling and satisfying, in response to the rise of digital nomadism, we are likely to see the conversation pivot further toward flexibility and autonomy.

This will be a floodgate that opens discussions about other aspects of work-life balance. It may also see discussion around increased holiday, maternity, and paternity provision, healthier workspaces with standing desks, access to nature, and well-being activities, and contracts that focus on tangible outputs rather than hours put in.

These discussions will be particularly welcome in the United States, which has no federal law guaranteeing paid parental leave and only mandates 12 weeks of unpaid leave for companies with more than 50 employees. In the United States, most workers also only receive 10 days of paid holiday each year, which is about a third of what is common in Europe.


7. We Will Talk More About Loneliness and Isolation

Some of the biggest challenges for digital nomads are the loneliness and isolation that come with living outside your established networks and moving frequently. These are likely to become bigger topics of research and discussion in the realm of mental health.

This won’t just benefit digital nomads, but may people who find themselves isolated, such as remote workers who work from home and new parents. Alongside stress and burnout, companies are likely to provide more support for employees struggling with these issues.


What Does the Future Look Like?

As digital nomadism moves from being an outlier to the mainstream over the next 10 years, the philosophies that underpin the digital nomad lifestyle, the challenges that digital nomads face, and the pressures that foreign workers place on local communities are all likely to have a significant impact on the shape of the world.

These are my predictions for what the big changes are likely to be over the next 10 years as a result of this shift. What are yours?