Updated: Jul 3
Many people are only now hearing these buzz words: ‘digital nomad’ and ‘remote worker’. But for others, they have been living their dream lives for years, long before others jumped on the band wagon due to Covid-19.
So what exactly is the difference between a digital nomad and a remote worker?
There isn’t a big difference. Generally a remote worker works from home – or perhaps a coffee shop when they want a change of scenery. A digital nomad does the same, except that they often don’t have a home but spend their lives travelling and work from wherever they are at the time.
Most of the time, a digital nomad is a freelancer, working for themselves. They tend to be in IT, Tech, copywriting and even…. teaching English online!
A remote worker could perhaps work for a big organisation, but as their work involves admin, their boss has allowed them to work from home. Or, they could work for themselves in any field, from sales, to copywriting, web design, and… teaching English online!
Being both a digital nomad and a remote worker have their ups and downs.
Pros and cons of being a remote worker:
· Working from home gives you a somewhat flexible schedule (depending on whether you work for yourself or someone else.
· Think of all those hours sitting in traffic travelling to and from work… you have none of that working from home!
· You can write off some of your home expenses to tax, as office expenses.
· If you are a night owl or an early bird, you may be able to schedule your day according to when you function best.
· However … working from home can have distractions. Think barking dogs, kids coming in to your office, unexpected visitors who don’t think that you are really working when you work from home. It's also hard to switch off - as you never leave the office. This can take some control, and you may have to put on your 'office cap' and home cap'.
· Working from home can also get lonely at times – there’s none of that ‘chatter around the water cooler’ that you get in an office environment.
Pros and cons of being a digital nomad
· For many people, this lifestyle sounds extremely glamorous, and it can be! But it’s not all just travel – you will need to balance out your time while travelling to do work, or you won’t be able to finance your travel.
· Working in a different location every week or month can be very inspirational, especially if you are working in a creative field.
· You get to meet many likeminded, interesting people. There is a huge digital nomad community and many websites and facebook groups where digital nomads arrange meet-ups.
· However, being a digital nomad does have its cons too… it can become a lonely existence, as your meetings with others are fleeting, so you struggle to form deep connections.
· Visas and work permits can be an issue depending on where you are working from. It’s hard to stay longer than a certain time in each country without a work permit.
Depending on your own passport, it can have even more limitations.
Depending on who your clients are, you may have to take time zones into account.
· It can be as expensive or as cheap a lifestyle as you want it to be. The money you save on rental or a mortgage and paying off a car pays for airfare and travel accommodation. You may end up in backpackers – but that can be half of the fun.
· Digital nomads have been far more affected by Covid-19 than remote workers have been, who can continue working from home.
So whichever lifestyle you prefer, teaching English online is a great option.
What do you need to teach English online, either as a digital nomad or a remote worker?
· A TEFL certificate. Like with everything in life, you pay for what you get. Be careful of cheap online courses. If you can’t travel right now, have a look at our VIRTUAL COURSE as an option. Some (but not all) companies will require you to also have a bachelor’s degree.
· A good internet connection. If you are travelling – be sure to check out the accommodation’s internet before booking. Network with other digital nomads for suggestions.
· Your own device – a laptop is preferred, a tablet is sometimes suitable.
· Noise-cancelling headphones and a headset with microphone would be great.
· Some props to set up your virtual classroom – this doesn’t have to take up much space if you are a digital nomad and packing up all the time. A poster, a puppet… be creative!
· Good time management skills and able to commit to scheduled lessons. These are usually flexible, but you do have to give sufficient notice in cancelling lessons.
· Be a native English speaker – or a neutral accent and good command of English.
Does the idea of being a digital nomad or remote worker appeal to you? Consider signing up for our Virtual TEFL course, and making the most of lockdown times to gain a new skill, allowing you to change your lifestyle. We have added an in depth component on how to teach online, which includes making your introduction video, and a comprehensive list of all companies that hire online teachers.