HAVE multiple mobile devices, will travel… and earn a living.

Being a digital nomad is fast becoming a way of life and work for many, allowing people to travel in their own backyards and the world at leisure. That has been made easier by the rapid growth of the global gig economy, which in turn has spurred the flexible office market that provides serviced offices and co-working spaces at competitive prices. This is taking off faster in large global cities. Studies by the world’s major consultancies show that flexible workspaces now make up about 8% of global office space, rising to 30% by 2030.

South Africa has been quick to get into this niche market. Programmers, web designers, app developers, writers and digital marketers and customer support representatives are now working flexibly, while being productive and meeting regular deadlines. Multinationals provide fast bandwidth, serviced offices, virtual offices, meeting rooms and video-conferencing facilities in South African cities and economic hubs. Research shows that, globally, millennials feel that flexible working is important to them and that companies that don’t trust their staff to work like this risk losing out on talent. Some South African companies have jumped on to this bandwagon, providing fully serviced workspaces and hot-desking facilities. Some host regular events supporting entrepreneurship, digital learning and networking across sectors.

Pay-as-you-go services range from about R65 an hour to daily rates of about R280 or five, 10 to 20-day packages for between R1 250, R2 300 and R4 400 or short-term contracts starting from less than R2 000 a month. Also, there are virtual office services that include call answering, mail handling facilities and a professional business address.
A recent Statistics SA’s employment outlook indicated that the number of people in temporary employment rose from 2.6 million in 2017 to 3.9 million in 2018. A flexible lifestyle is not only sought after by entrepreneurial millennials and digital roamers that make up Generation Z. A recent Southern African Freelancers’ Association survey of about 400 respondents showed that South Africa’s freelance media sector is dominated by women over 30 years of age, with most producing work for online platforms.

South Africa is a fantastic place for digital nomads. Wyse Travel Confederation, a global not-for-profit membership organisation representing the youth, student and educational travel industry, said digital nomads are high-value customers who are looking for new experiences, culture and adventure. The nomads are coming and they will benefit our economy greatly.

Andrew Robinson is a co-founder and cxecutive chairman of SiSebenza.

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