Let’s give digital nomads a place to hang their dongles

Ideas

Let’s give digital nomads a place to hang their dongles

With remote working now ubiquitous, SA needs to reap the benefits by attracting location-independent workers

Columnist

One shining beacon in the general miasma of 2020 has been the widespread adoption of remote working. I’ve said it before and will continue beating that drum: we’ve had the capability to support remote work for ages, but an old-fashioned view of “managing workers”, rather than the state of technology, has been holding us back. Turns out, when we all had to stay away from the office, miraculously we could and the world did not fall apart. This is the one lesson I hope we take along after the current iteration of end times.

But we could take this lesson further, opening up the country to an interesting subset of workers: digital nomads. This rather esoteric-sounding category is really just “location-independent workers”, such as freelancers and the self-employed, creatives and independent consultants. They can work from anywhere with a reliable internet connection and do.

Armed with a laptop and a smartphone, many South Africans have recently swapped, say, traffic in Broadacres, Johannesburg, for surfing in Bali. Estonia, of all places, has been a trendsetter in this regard. It isn’t the first to offer freelance-friendly work options, but it seems to have done it so well that Estonia is almost synonymous with the term. It first launched an “e-residency” option, which allows people to be resident in the country only in virtual or electronic terms. The applicant now has access to the EU market and Estonia to your taxes. Win-win...

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