Unlike regular remote workers, who tend to stay in one place or shuttle back and forth between their home and a vacation retreat or a relative’s house, digital nomads travel and explore while working. The authors’ research shows that the number of Americans describing themselves as digital nomads rose by 49% between 2019 and 2020, and that unlike in previous years, traditional job holders made up a majority of these workers in 2020. Despite the large and growing number of these employees, few organizations have formal policies and programs for them. But blasé approaches may not be sufficient. Having digital nomads on the payroll can leave firms open to a wide variety of regulatory and legal risks. But the approach shouldn’t be purely defensive or informed only by compliance concerns. The forces that both enable and encourage digital nomadism are here to stay.
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