Will the “digital nomads”, anchored by the pandemic, return to Vancouver?

Will the mass discovery that a lot of office work can be done from anywhere cause more people to try the life of a digital nomad?

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Sabrina Chammas-Doumet’s collaborative workspace in Gastown saw enough business from so-called digital nomads crossing Vancouver before the COVID-19 pandemic that she did not abandon the struggling business, betting on it. which could happen once it is completed. .

“I’m trying to hold on because I think it’ll pick up again, if I just stay put,” said Chammas-Doumet, who has run L’Atelier, a 3,000-foot space, since 2016.

Travelers are grounded for the time being and office workers mostly remain confined at home, so Chammas-Doumet estimates that L’Atelier is currently operating at around 40% of its usual income, aided by the services of virtual mailbox that it offers to its members.

However, she is betting that the realization among many white-collar workers – who have been kicked out of their desks for security reasons – that they can work just about anywhere will improve business, especially in one location. like Vancouver.

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“I feel like (Vancouver) attracts a lot of digital nomads in the summer, because of the beauty of the city and all the nature activities people can do,” said Chammas-Doumet. “Canada is an easy place to travel for many Europeans, Australians and New Zealanders.”

Sabrina Chammas-Doumet operates L'Atelier, a coworking space in Gastown.
Sabrina Chammas-Doumet operates L’Atelier, a coworking space in Gastown. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Despite the pandemic, Vancouver still appears on the promotional website Nomadist.com as a popular destination, didn’t think at the top of its landing page.

The company behind a web-based resume assistant resume.io, however, Vancouver boldly declared the “digital nomad capital of the world,” but based only on the number of Instagram photos with #digitalnomad hashtagged from the city.

This finding was based on a small sample, 90,000 Instagram posts across 3.3 million #digitalnomad tags, but the company found the results representative enough to estimate trends as a “soft science study,” according to Luke Doyle, with the company NeoMam Studios, which worked with CV.io on the release.

And on the assumption that freelance professions are on the rise, resume.io posed the question of “where could these new nomads roam”, assuming their freedom to do so will return soon.

However, it stands to reason that the pandemic’s massive discovery that many jobs don’t need to be tied to a specific location creates the potential for the trend to continue, according to Terri Griffith, an innovation scholar at the ‘Simon Fraser University.

“I don’t think organizations can unlearn the fact that they could,” said Griffith, Keith Beedie Chair in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University.

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“They can’t say ‘oh, well, you can’t do that at home anymore’, because we know that’s not true. And people find out for themselves how it suits them. “

Griffith said it’s a trend that has developed from more digitally-oriented professions with employers that don’t exactly have physical locations themselves.

She recalls corresponding with a former student employed by the company which has a leading content platform, but who did so from Italy.

“I said, ‘why are you working in Milan’, and she says’ why don’t you? “” Added Griffith, which perfectly summed up the nomads’ state of mind.

Now anchored in Victoria, Steffani Cameron is a bona fide former nomad who traveled to 25 countries between 2015 and 2019 and has no doubts that Vancouver will remain popular.

“People have been really interested in promoting them on social media in Vancouver for a very long time,” said the longtime blogger, freelance writer and film industry remote worker. “We just have a legacy this way.”

True nomads, Cameron said, are people who have given up a physical address in their home country, which means “taking a lot of risks, (because) it puts you at the mercy of any country.” , whatever the climate in which you find yourself. “

Nomads also generally seek cheaper destinations, which somehow limits Vancouver to travelers already from countries with stronger currencies and a higher standard of living, Cameron said.

And the city’s outward orientation, with plenty to do in a fair, but not tropical, climate is another draw, in her opinion.

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“A lot of people want it to be easy,” Cameron said, which is one of the downsides for some destinations. “(Nomads) go to cities where there is a strong expatriate vibe” and don’t necessarily absorb the local culture.

Looking to the future, Cameron said digital nomads will try to pick up where they left off, although they are likely to face higher air and accommodation fares after the pandemic.

“I think I would go even slower if I had to do it again, and I will probably be traveling for a few months here and there,” Cameron said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever go all out again.”

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