Every office worker, at some point, has dreamed of working anywhere besides an office. Thanks to the technological revolution, this is exactly what some people have done. They’re known as digital nomads, and as long as they have access to wireless networks, they work from beaches in the tropics, coffee shops in Europe, and one woman worked for Evernote for 6 years from her sailboat.
There is, however, a tradeoff to foregoing the office. Many digital nomads experience a disconnect from their teams. They’re not present for conversations that inspire creativity, or the details of product launches. They miss out on the camaraderie the physical office fosters, and for them, company culture is delivered via pixels, losing some of its impact.
There are also corporations such as Aetna and Yahoo eliminating remote worker policies, bringing their nomads back to the office. The reasons vary from a lack of productivity to a stagnation of new innovation, the lifeblood of capitalist competition. Some nomads make the decision to return to the fold on their own, citing family planning, difficulties connecting to coworkers from far-flung time zones, and headaches surrounding the logistics of travel and temporary lodging.