How the Great Resignation is creating a generation of digital nomads

*This content is brought to you by Shyft, the global money app, powered by Standard Bank

Digital Nomad. Holidays at work. Independent location. Distributed workforce. Two years of pandemic life have added a whole new chapter to our lexicon of professional jargon. Here’s what it all means and how you can improve your working life.

Digital what?

In the past, nomad was not a word regularly used by the average Joe (or Jabu or Johan), except in reference to the Maasai of East Africa or the Bedouin of the deserts of the Middle East. But 2020 turned the situation around.

Digital nomads are individuals who choose to spend part of their time (long and/or short) working from all kinds of places, locally or internationally, fulfilling their desire for travel and adventure without compromising their obligations. professionals.

Fueled by the Great Resignation (which has seen nearly 20 million Americans leave their jobs since April 2021, according to McKinsey and Co.), digital nomads typically work in the creator and knowledge economies, the latter based on the use of intellectual capital. in marketing and communication, design, IT and consulting.

Research suggests that in the United States, the number of digital nomads in traditional employment doubled between 2019 and 2020, to 6.3 million, as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders helped us realize that the work can, in most cases, be done from anywhere. in the world that has a pretty decent Wi-Fi connection. 2021 has seen an increase of more than 40% of this group, to reach more than 10 million. American digital nomads who do not have traditional jobs, i.e. work as freelancers and independent contractors, number 5.5 million, bringing the total number of self-described American nomads at 15.5 million.

Local trends

It is currently not possible to determine the number of digital nomads in South Africa; however, some local studies provide some insight into the changes that might occur. Earlier this year, Google revealed that between January 2021 and January 2022, South Africans were among the top five global searchers for the phrase “how to quit your job”.

Last year, rewards management platform Remchannel reported that employee turnover increased by 16% across all sectors in South Africa. While there are a variety of reasons behind this, Remchannel notes that between April and October 2021, 60% of employees left their jobs with a resignation, rather than for other reasons such as retirement or downsizing. . According to Remchannel MD René Richter, “Employees say, ‘I don’t want more of the same. I need balance and I want to work the way I want to work to avoid this phenomenon of burnout”.

What are the benefits?

For digital nomads, the benefits of a seemingly unbalanced lifestyle that doesn’t depend on being in one place (i.e. location independent) are many, but chief among them is the ability to travel to different destinations – many of which are bucket list type – and to be immersed in cultures different from one’s own.

Another advantage is the flexibility of nomadic living. Whether it is a permanent decision or a choice to extend a vacation and continue working from the destination (i.e. working holiday or working holiday), digital nomadism is seen as a panacea in the face of hitherto unavoidable corporate pressure.

For South Africans willing to choose countries with currencies weaker than ours, the financial benefits of being part of a distributed workforce can be particularly attractive, further reinforcing this inspired trend.

Digital nomads also enjoy the sense of community that comes with meeting new people, whether in hostels, co-living and co-working spaces, doing adventure activities, or on spontaneous evenings. There is also a growing sense of wanting to connect with locals and communities that host nomads, with some travelers volunteering and making a concerted effort to participate meaningfully and sustainably in local life.

Some nomads also enjoy the minimalism that comes with a traveler lifestyle and detachment from the politics of home and office. Plus, you’ll be able to chase the sun and avoid the realities of the dark cold fronts of Mother City or the dry, cold winters of the Highveld.


If you’re itching and wondering where to go to start a life of geographic independence, consider Remote’s Best Destinations for Remote Work which suggests 100 of the friendliest cities for digital nomads based on infrastructure. Internet, attractiveness, security and quality. of living, openness, cost of living and incentives for telecommuters. Their top five consists of:

  1. Toronto, Canada)
  2. Madrid, Spain)
  3. Auckland, New Zealand)
  4. Madeira (Portugal)
  5. Helsinki, Finland).

Once you’ve decided which destination appeals to you, focus on research, research and more research! You will need to search for:

A number of countries have introduced digital nomad visas, such as the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Germany, Iceland, Mauritius, Portugal, and Seychelles, among others. Italy recently announced that it will introduce a digital nomad visa, and South Africa is also considering it (in case you have international friends who want a taste of Mzansi).

The digital nomad tax area can be difficult to navigate, as it is affected by your country/countries of choice, the number of days you spend out of the country, where your income comes from, etc. It is best to get sound professional advice. of a suitably qualified expert.

If you already have a medical insurance plan, call your provider to discuss your international coverage. It can always be a good idea to inquire about travel insurance that will cover medical expenses.

If you continue your South African or current work, it is advisable to find a country in the same time zone or with only a small difference. This will go a long way in helping you maintain productivity, accountability, and relationships with your team.

Digital nomadism can become an expensive alternative given that you are more likely to spend on sightseeing outings and unique experiences (as it should be!). One way to cut expenses is to use an app like Shyft, which gives you the best exchange rates at your fingertips 24/7, so you can enjoy great exchange rates anywhere in the world. world. By loading your forex onto a multi-currency virtual card, you can shop online and pay for your travel and accommodation expenses (and much more), reducing conversion fees associated with other traditional payment methods, while maintaining access to your ZAR funds. Plus, you can receive payments in forex and load the currency of your choice onto a physical swipe Shyft card.

  • Other details to read include climate, crime levels, internet speeds, medical services, transportation, and vaccination requirements.

Now or never

If there’s anything Covid-19 has taught us, it’s that life is unpredictable. The pandemic has brought into stark relief our mortality and our sensitivity to the unknown, which is why some call the Great Resignation “the Great Accomplishment.” So, as the Gen Z, #LYBL and digital nomad say, step into the travel realities of your wildest dreams.

Shyft lets you load up to four currencies onto a physical swipe card on the go, with lower fees than traditional payment methods abroad. With Shyft, you can buy currencies at the best rates, shop internationally online with a virtual card, make and receive cross-border payments, and invest in over 300 stocks and ETFs. To visit to download the Global Money app today.

This post was sponsored by Shyft, the global money app, powered by Standard Bank. With Shyft, you can buy foreign exchange instantly anytime, anywhere at the best rates, and invest in the best US stocks and ETFs. Shyft was named Best Financial Solution at the MTN Business App of the Year Awards 2021. Visit Shyft to download it now, no matter where you bank. Shyft operates under license from The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited, an Approved Financial Services Provider (FSP number 11287).

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