June 19, 2021 – Recently appointed to head the Transparency and Open Data division of the Catalan government, Albert CaÃ±igueral will be a speaker on the future of work at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week.
One of the many exciting things about next week’s Zagreb Digital Nomadic Week (ZDNW) is the sense of continuity of recent events in Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads last October was the very first Digital Nomadic Conference in Croatia, and it was followed by the world’s first Digital Nomadic Resident Project in the Pearl of the Adriatic.
One of the ten winners was Future of Work explorer (and published author on the subject) Albert CaÃ±igueral from Barcelona, ââwhose application video you can see above and the initial interview here.
Albert’s contribution and ideas throughout the month were wonderful, and he was a popular member of the group, and he came to be known as Dubrovnik Beach Bum after an exercise in stereotypes and reality on how to life of digital nomads.
It was only natural that we tried to tap into Albert’s expertise within ZDNW, and we are delighted that he agreed to be a keynote speaker on Friday June 25 on the topic of the future. work.
Albert originally planned to come in person, but was recently approached to head the Open Data and Transparency division of the Catalan government. Its presentation will therefore be done remotely. Albert kindly found the time to tell us more about his thoughts on Croatia as a DN destination, as well as the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Albert will not be the sole contributor to the Dubrovnik programs, with another nomadic resident in residence, Ron Tardiff, from Budapest, and the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Ana Hrnic, also a ZDNW panelist.
1. From the tramp of Dubrovnik beach to the head of the Transparency and Open Government division of the Catalan government. Your life has changed since we last met in Dubrovnik a few weeks ago. Congratulations on your new position. Tell us a little about that first.
Thank you! It was completely unexpected. I was part of a project “Catalonia 2022âWith 30 experts to deliver a set of post-pandemic ideas for Catalonia. One of the co-leaders of this project, Victoria Alsina, has been appointed âConsellera d’AcciÃ³ Exterior i TransparÃ¨nciaâ by the Catalan government (Generalitat de Catalunya). When she started building her team, I was asked to join her and I couldn’t refuse. It is an honor to serve in this position and I am sure I will learn a lot as well.
2. As an expert and published author on the future of work, and someone who just spent a month as a digital nomad in residence in Dubrovnik, your perspective is very interesting. Tell us first about your experience in Dubrovnik. You obviously didn’t expect to find the perfect DN destination. How would you sum up your 4 weeks there?
The phrase âcontent is king, context is kingâ is widely used in marketing. In the DN universe, I would translate people (the community) is king and location is queen. Our experience was just breathtaking because of the community of NDs who were selected to participate, partners of some NDs who decided to be part of the adventure, locals who joined the workshops and other moments, the team professional who animated the whole program and also the support of the town hall (in full local elections!).
Then, the 4 weeks were a lot of exploration, discovery, rhythm, collective learning, etc.
3. Barcelona is an established nomadic hotspot. What lessons can cities like Zagreb learn to make themselves more attractive to potential digital nomads?
âSimplicity is the ultimate sophisticationâ is a quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. For any destination that wants to attract DNs, the simpler the better. By this I mean where to find information related to DNs, where to access services (accommodation, workspaces, health, communication, etc.), bundled offers for medium and long-term stays, reduced language barriers, where to find ‘other DNs and residents, etc.
I would also encourage cities to break away from âND competitionâ with a scarcity mentality and adopt a âND destination networkâ with an abundance mentality and cooperation between cities. What about a DN friendly destinations network?
4. Based on your recent experience in Croatia, what do you think are its competitive advantages in the DN niche?
The most obvious are the location, climate, cost of living, English widely spoken, friendly locals, etc.
A unique asset that we discussed on several occasions was that Croatia is not part of the Schengen area, which offers a number of unique advantages to short-term NDs who are still juggling visa limits. Another big plus is the pioneering and generous DN visa.
5. And on which areas should Croatia focus in order to improve its offer? Do you have 3 quick wins that Croatia and Zagreb could implement?
I won’t be very original because the recommendations we gave in Dubrovnik are broadly applicable to Croatia in general and Zagreb in particular: 1) a “seal” which identifies DN friendly accommodation (including coliving) 2) as well as orchestrating an ecosystem of workspaces in the city (coworking, hotels, public libraries, etc.). 3) Thinking not only in terms of long term ND but also in shorter experiences like ours in Dubrovnik (1 month) with the slightly different concept of âworkationsâ. I see a lot of potential in this area, especially for European workers.
6. The future of work is an important topic. Without writing another great book on the subject, can you give us some insight into how all of this has developed and how cities like Zagreb are preparing for the huge change that is coming?
It is impossible to predict where all of this is going. Work (tasks), workforce and workplace management are strongly impacted by digital technologies. All the same in all types of directions according to each context. The message, then, is that we are moving from a monolithic (almost religious) perspective on what “work” is and means to a vast array of possibilities that we are only beginning to experience and understand. Be flexible and eager to learn
In the project “Ciudad in Betaâ(City in Beta), which we recently launched, we explore how new ways of working and living are creating a metamorphosis in cities, metropolitan and rural areas. Check out the Twitter thread to get an idea of ââthe topics covered. My recommendation is to keep a really systemic perspective. We must break down functional, managerial and political silos while trying to prepare for these changes from a city perspective. Think about both city services, economic development, real estate, tourism and the well-being of citizens. Also keep an eye out for high tech developments that could impact the way we work over the next decade (telexistence, metaverse, etc.) by trying to anticipate the sociological and cultural evolutions of the analysis. This last bit is the most difficult to predict.
7. We are delighted that you are joining Zagreb Digital Nomad Week as a keynote speaker. Tell us a bit about your involvement.
I wanted to return to Croatia but due to my new position this is unfortunately not possible. I will be participating in the Future of Work discussions on Friday by explaining some of the topics mentioned in this interview and the deep dive where people are most interested. I am really excited to âbe backâ in Croatia.
8. And finally, if Croatia takes the right steps to develop this niche, where do you see Croatia on the European stage for digital nomads in 3 to 5 years?
Clearly in the top 5 DN friendly destinations in the Mediterranean. Hopefully with many links to other DN friendly destinations as part of the networking idea I brought up before, and maybe as a leader or co-leader.
The growth of NDs over the next 3-5 years will create doubts and tensions in several areas of our working, living and social security systems that have been designed and optimized for the traditional way of working. For its scale and dynamism, I believe that Croatia can be at the forefront of much needed experimentation.
You can register for Albert’s presentation (and all other presentations) free of charge, online and in person at the site. Saltwater Nomads website.
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