Ever run into an Airbnb guest who is busy typing away on his, or her laptop? Or a traveler pausing his nordic trek and whipping out his Ipad to check emails and take calls? These two are examples of digital nomads, i.e. The tribe of working professionals who work while on the move.
No matter which physical location they pick, a digital nomad still touches base with an office elsewhere. They have to be more deliberate about their accountability and reliability. After all, they have no one from work to check in on them and help them resolve issues that crop up. It requires considerable self-discipline, time management, and interpersonal skills to assimilate a new way of working.
And what teaches one these digital nomad skills better than sports? Be it contact or spectator events, sports drills teach players all about playing by the rules. It also emphasizes on teamwork, commitment to craft, endurance, speed, and keeping an eye on the competition. All these lessons apply in digital nomadism, too
At present, there are about 10.9 million digital nomads. According to a study by MBO partners, this number is expected to go up to 17 million within the next two to three years. It follows that digital nomad skills are no longer optional. The agenda for a digital nomad is different from the one for business or touristic travelers traveling solo or as part of an entourage.
Digital nomads are usually freelancers or entrepreneurs who take a break from their 60 hour week for some inspiration and flexibility. They can also be casual earners, apprentices or vocationally trained professionals. From adapting to a different physical environment to scouting economized internet packs that will last one for the duration of their stay, there are plenty of challenges that come with the turf (literally).
In this post, I’ll dive into a few tips from sports that when applied to a nomadic lifestyle makes it easier for one to thrive no matter where their move takes them. Lets’ go!
Digital nomad tips from sports
Just imagine if your favorite basketball or football team’s members turned on each other in the midst of a live game! Not only would it be a poor showing, but a team that is divided also creates a weak link for the opposition to score points. Teamwork is essential to moving forward as one.
When different personalities are in one group, it’s natural for there to be differences of opinion on a method, practice, or way of working. But it should not come to a point where team members refuse to cooperate and work with a particular coworker. Or do so resenting said coworker and the organization. The absence of visual cues and in-person conversation makes it harder to pick up on these feelings, especially when some of your team are digital nomads.
The first step to encouraging teamwork is to build a remote-first work culture. It can be a simple inclusion of remote policies into the company handbook to help you set policies, rules expectations, rewards, and recognition. Documenting material to support teamwork such that a team’s performance is assessed impartially (without favoritism) demonstrates your efforts to include and involve everyone even when they’re not reporting to a physical workspace every day.
In sports, you’ll notice the coach gathering the team for a huddle to discuss strategy, leaving no one out. This helps everyone remain on the same page and stay aware of what they’ll need to do. It’s the united front that keeps the team’s spirit up, regardless of winning or losing!
2. Giving credit where credit is due
In sports, every member and the position they play is valuable, even benched players. From the water carrier to the referee, their role in the team support members where needed. When a team wins the match, credit goes to all for making it this far. And giving kudos is crucial when members are distributed remotely.
The aforesaid absence of interactions can unintentionally make you forget someone. If this feeling persists, it can lead to a gradual disinterest in work and not wanting to put more thought and effort into reaching goals. This spells disaster for a company. Just think what would happen if members one by one begin to feel that they are doing a thankless job!
It’s not about drawing a salary. Today’s young and adaptive workforce look for appreciation and opportunities for growth. While 37% of employees consider employee recognition important, 69% of employees admit their willingness to work harder if they are better appreciated. Put simply, giving credit where it’s due is one of several crucial digital nomad skills. It engages your workforce even when they opt to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle.
The simple act of thanking an employee and praising them for something they are doing well can give them reason to remain with your company. In other words, they will not feel the need to walk out the door and take their valuable experience and talent with them.
3. Staying driven and goal-oriented
Sports are intrinsically intense. It requires discipline, fitness and focus. Even when they’re not playing matches, players always train to condition their mind and body. The more prepared they are, the better able they are to move quickly and strategically during the game.
This is perhaps the best lesson sports can teach those who wish to embrace digital nomadism. It’s about creating a routine that works for you. That is, you should be able to immediately identify what needs doing, meet deadlines and drive work to the finish line.
Deepening your focus on priorities lets you cross them off your list, and prevents you from procrastinating. The dopamine and endorphin released from exercising can do wonders for both your mood and powers of concentration. You’ll notice how much better you feel overall once the soreness leaves your body. After all, a healthy mind resides in a healthy body! And maintaining your health can prevent you from falling ill and having to take too many days off work to heal and recharge.
4. Geared for action
Not everything goes according to the plan. In professional sports, players can sustain injuries that can either put them out of action for the rest of the season, or even lead to early retirement. In such cases, when teams are short of a member and in the time to replace them, the rest of the team should be geared for action and to welcome new recruits. Similarly digital nomads should also prepare themselves to work in adversities. This is a great opportunity to show initiative to your leader as well.
Living and getting used to a different locale can help digital nomads read the market. It’s helpful to businesses to have someone on the ground report back on market conditions, user responsiveness and find out which products and services sell in that particular community. Consequently, they can get in on the trend and use a digital nomad’s knowledge of local customs, language and culture to change how they serve and sell. They can even negotiate rates and liaise with vendors, resulting in a partnership that can eliminate the reliance on unknown middle men.
5. Resilience through hardships
Digital nomad skills offer the independence and flexibility to experience a different environment and work-life. However, you’re also mostly by yourself if there’s a setback, loss or total failure and no one is around to help you take a load off. It can even sometimes feel like you’re being singled out to ensure maximum hardships.
Remember that saying, the only way forward is through? It’s true, whether you apply it in sports or at work. Take John Orozco, for example. The U.S gymnast took several nasty tumbles between 2011-12 but rehabbed his way into the RIO finals in 2016. It was sheer perseverance and dedication to his profession that helped him power through the psychological and physical effects of his injuries. If you are unable to find a workaround to a problem, pause and take a breather. Recognize that you’re mentally blocked and need to clear your head. You can de-stress by going for a long walk, indulging in a hot soak, reading for a while, really anything that distracts you and puts you in a better mood.
When you feel more relaxed, you may even find that the solution to the problem becomes clearer. Take time to talk about it on a one on one or group call so that you can get a different perspective. Just remember, everyone goes through hardship. And while they may not be with you while you work, reach out to colleagues virtually who can help you share concerns and revisit priorities.
6. More than one ‘right’ way
Digital nomading offers the independence and flexibility to experience a different environment and work-life. However, you’re also mostly by yourself if there’s a setback, loss or total failure and no one is around to help you take a load off. It can even sometimes feel like you’re being singled out to ensure maximum hardships.
Remember that saying, the only way forward is through? It’s true, whether you apply it in sports or at work. Take John Orozco, for example. The U.S gymnast took several nasty tumbles between 2011-12 but rehabbed his way into the RIO finals in 2016. It was sheer perseverance and dedication to his profession that helped him power through the psychological and physical effects of his injuries. If you are unable to find a workaround to a problem, pause and take a breather. Recognize the fact that there’s a mental block and that you need to clear your head. You can de-stress by going for a long walk, indulging in a hot soak, reading for a while, really anything that distracts you and puts you in a better mood.
When you feel more relaxed, you may even find that the solution to the problem becomes clearer. Take time to talk about it on a one on one or group call so that you can get a different perspective. Just remember, everyone goes through hardship, and while they may not be with you while you work, reaching out to colleagues virtually when you’re stuck can help you share concerns and revisit priorities.
How do you become a digital nomad in 2020?
One of the most important digital nomad skills to have, is hustling. You have to be a hustler to make a digital nomadic lifestyle work. First, you need clearance if you’re already employed. Take stock of the remote collaboration tools and office set up you’ll need where you’re going. Map out the logistics and travel itinerary and inform your office so that they too can keep up with your schedule. Two, do your research.
Find out economy packs for travel, stay and internet plans, preferably an accommodation that already has Wifi in its packages, so that you can work in comfort and do your traveling. And three, store emergency contact information so that people know where to reach you and check in.
Did these lessons give you digital nomad skills to take to the nomadic lifestyle sportingly?