All about the LIM (Location Independent Movement)
Coworkation as a company has one core passion, and this passion drives the people working at Coworkation, we all aim to design the life we desire, a life of freedom, a life lived on own own terms. Through our work we hope to provide people with the knowledge, resources and connections that further enable on our ability to do this. We strongly believe in a new way of living, no longer constrained by outdated and unrealistic notions of professional or materialistic security.
It is these beliefs, or values, that define the Location Independent Movement. I’m here today because we hope that through the sharing of resources, such as this presentation, through connecting with and learning from you all, we can bring awareness to the possibilities, both positive and negative, surrounding the growth of the location independent lifestyle.
Also, I’m going to assume that the people here today are already aware of, or connected to this movement. You might be a remote corporate worker, you might be a fully-fledged location independent professional. You might never have considered yourself “a part” of anything, you’re just doing your thing. Whatever the case, all I really hope to do today is to raise a discussion around the bigger picture, the issues we face, the positive and negative impacts of this lifestyle, and where it’s all headed.
The Location Independent Movement can be defined as the individuals, businesses and resources surrounding a lifestyle based on the ability to live and work from anywhere you want. The movement is more easily defined by the values that drive people who identify as location independent. Through many many discussions, interviews, brainstorming sessions and wine-fuelled passionate conversations, I’ve compiled the following list, but I’d love you to add to it if anything springs to mind.
- Freedom. Freedom is number one. Freedom of movement, freedom to travel, freedom to structure our days as we desire, freedom to change our minds, freedom to go with the flow, freedom to stay put, freedom to choose who we work with, and freedom to be yourself! People are expecting more from life, and this isn’t a just case of ‘millennial entitlement’ as it’s so often labelled, it represents a major shift in how people are looking at life in the 21st century.
- Many of us became itinerant because we simply didn’t feel at home, at home. Perhaps a sense of, ‘these aren’t my people, this isn’t my tribe’. Through travel we are able to connect with others who feel the same way, and through coworking spaces we find a sense of belonging amongst others who recoil from belonging. Being a Citizen of the World IS a valid identity, if you can look past the acronym.
- Taking risks over the sense of security that full-time employment, home ownership, and traditional community structures claim to offer. Living that life infers a compromise on potential life-enriching experiences, thus people inspired by freedom consider these ‘securities’ as false in the first place. The ‘life-plan’ model simply doesn’t appeal. We’ll take experiences over possessions any day. There is a growing trend towards minimalism and the ‘de-cluttering’ of life within the movement. Youth, and its’ lack of dependents and responsibilities, means that the millennials are more able to embrace this lifestyle, and as such, they are the ones defining the movement.
- Designing our lives so that we have the freedom, time and space live according to our own passions and values. We are able to tune into our natural rhythms and become more effective, more productive.
- Whilst a ‘conventional’ lifestyle is driven by survival and obligations, the location independent lifestyle is often defined by the search for meaning and purpose, and a desire for growth, both personal, professional, and spiritual.
- Location changes as a source of inspiration. Whether you be a freelancer who works from one coffee shop in the morning and another in the afternoon, or you’re a self-identified digital nomad who changes country every 3 months, a change of location is a sure-fire way to get off autopilot, make you more alert and aware of your surroundings, and perhaps even more aware of yourself.
- Curiosity. In the world, in other people, other cultures, in ourselves and how we behave in the world.
- Time to Be. When you’re so caught up in the daily grind of getting to work, working long hours to pay for high rents, hectic social schedules that try to make up for feelings of discontent with life- you rarely have the mental or emotional time and space to really check-in with yourself. Why am I doing what I’m doing with my life? Do I enjoy it? Do I have a sense of purpose? Am I contributing in some positive way? What do I want for the future? How cool are clouds?! Most people I’ve met who live a location independent life realised the importance of time to reflect, and have created that time for themselves now because they’re masters of their own schedule.
- Nature, and being able to immerse yourself in nature, is another major drawcard for leaving urban environments. People increasingly recognise the important role time in nature plays in our overall health and wellbeing.
- Balance. A tricky one. But achieving balance in work and leisure, productivity and pleasure, is a driving force for people living a location independent life. Blurring the lines between these
- And then there’s the simple fact that living somewhere with shitty weather, overpriced coffee, and no beach might just be enough to get you thinking…WTF am I doing, I’m going to figure this shit out in Thailand, on the beach, whilst drinking a coconut I can write-off as an expense because I’m working abroad. Boom. Take that system!
So that’s why we’re all into it! But what about the factors that got us all on the LIM bandwagon? And where’s it going from here? The growth of the LIM can be attributed to a few major factors.
- Technology. Ease of travel, increased bandwidth, free wifi in public spaces (or for the price of that latte you’re letting go cold so it looks like you’ve still got a drink and you’re not taking the piss), the declining price of electronics, these are the most obvious contributing factors.
- But then you’ve also got an emerging range of disruptive technologies that making living and working from anywhere a hell of a lot easier. -Airbnb, Uber, Googlemaps, and Tripadvisor all let you find your way around an unfamiliar foreign location as easy as downloading an app. –Cloud-based storage and team project management apps such as DaPulse, Slack and Asana let us stay connected, and working. -There’s peer to peer social networks, mobile technologies, and specialised serendipity enhancers for entrepreneurs to find useful connections in coworking spaces and events.
- Then you’ve got the major shift in how we behave in “real-life” being affected by how we behave online. We are creating and utilising technology that brings us together, that enables trust between strangers, that facilitates crowd-power and a Peer to peer revolution. The internet has removed the middle-man and we’re more able than ever to collaborate internationally, create roaming, virtual and real life global communities.
- ‘Access over ownership’ is being reflected in the collaborative consumption movement, as championed by Rachel Botsman. Technology is being used to propagate the sharing economy by making it easier to share rather than purchase, to connect with people that have a product or service you require that you can exchange for something they want or require. It leads to less anonymity across the web, more connection with strangers on opposite sides of the globe. The global economy, the global community- technology is breaking down not only the barriers of location dependence, but cultural barriers, ethnic barriers, social barriers. Whilst we need to remember here that this still is reserved for those people and places with access the the internet, which is only 40% of the world.
- Technologies, products and services that digital nomads use to work while travelling are themselves becoming popular amongst the general population, even those who never travel. This is reflected in major shifts to management strategy of the workforce. The corporate world has recognised the benefits of remote teams, reduced floor space and the associated costs, and this has in turn led to workers having higher expectations from their employers. People are reacting to the low quality of life that comes with long commutes, how that affects their health, their relationships, and most importantly for their employers- their performance! These changes in management strategy often result in rating of output over hours-based productivity. Location independence is a backlash to the status quo, but its’ guiding principles are increasingly being mirrored by the corporate sector. Companies are realising, as they compete with each other for talent, that they have to offer their staff freedom, and to be considered a progressive company, they are offering remote working opportunities.
The LIM is a result of the increasing disenchantment people are experiencing with the corporate world, the rat-race. Through rapid exchange of digital information we are now keenly aware of the damage done to our planet, our health, and our spirits through the productivity obsessed agenda of the corporate model.
This shift is a natural evolution, and may I be so bold as to suggest, you, the location independent life-styler, or aspirant are part of this…revolution.
Two words: exponential growth. Google location independence and you’ll see what I mean. There are so many societal, technological and economic factors contributing to the growth of this movement that it is rapidly becoming an industry, as well as a movement based upon personal and professional satisfaction. Here are some of the shifts already occurring, or set to occur in the location independent space due to the impact of world travel.
Co-working and co-living hubs of are increasingly becoming major destinations for the worldwide LIPs. The DN hubs will drive the economic development in regions previously untouched by tourism or entrepreneurial culture. Hubs over metropolis: an exodus from cities, reduced city sizes, encourages regional development, positive environmental aspect, developing countries can compete.
Co-housing is growing as a result of not only financial factors but the desire for community. As compared with the ‘communes’ of the past, co-housing and shared ownership allow people to have a home but not shoulder the full financial or other responsibilities. It allows people to travel and live a LI life whilst having one or more bases around the world.
PLUS, consider the possibilities!…
- Further shifts in mindset around work/life balance and life paths. Alternative work order, location independence as the new normal.
- Less materialistic, more minimalism, more sharing, owning less.
- Social and environmental impact driven businesses as a result of values-driven self created careers.
- More awareness of ‘why’ we do what we do, self-reflection and greater choice to create the work that drives us.
- Growth of a more conscious approach to work and life.
- Better infrastructure and resources supporting location independent professionals.
- More connectivity=Global connections.
- More ‘Third-Culture Kids’ changing how people view nationality and identity, affecting values and world view.
- Breaking down of communication barriers through technological and social shifts.
- Corporate restructuring, reflecting a workforce with increased expectations with regards to their own autonomy and personal satisfaction.
- Family balance changes, as self-designed schedules and the ability to work from home lead to beneficial family time.
- Schooling/Education changes: Independent schooling, fuelled by the LI lifestyle, Coworking schools for the children of location independent professionals, Coworking as an alternative education for adults, exponential growth of online education.
- Other institutions potentially forced to evolve:
- Immigration: already happening with Obama’s introduction of a startup visa, and research being conducted in Thailand to better serve an regulate the large digital nomad population of Chiang Mai.
- Political reassessment or borders and International Passports! (we can but dream)
- Courts online & International law
- Housing: already coliving and cohousing is growing in acceptance amongst a population who can not afford their own homes.
- Trade: Obvs.
- Finance: New currencies, Bitcoin, etc.
- Healthcare: Medical Tourism a way to provide care to people unabe to pay for care in their own countries.
- Association of international nomads to help regulate and connect global community.
- Further tech & trade disruption through collaborative consumption.
- Local economies fuelled through partnerships and apprenticeships with LIPs.
We don’t use the word much, but an entire industry has emerged to meet the needs of the location independent professional, and these players make up the landscape pr ecosystem of the movement. There’s a whole market emerging just gagging to be serviced. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial mindset, this is opportunity central.
This lifestyle isn’t all laptops on the beach and sweaty thighs. Here’s a list of considerations.
- Legality of LIM life, taxes & visas.
- Security, card skimming and naivete.
- Relationships, Try establishing relationships on the road that have long term merit-not easy. Also, although you were happy to leave family and friends to go on your own adventure, being around new people constantly can me you yearn for them.
- Being misunderstood in a foreign culture.
- How to create routine or stability.
- Not running out of money.
- Discipline (how not to lose it), self management of time, work/leisure balance.
- Superficial experience of culture due to short stays, Being in a bubble.
- Wanting to contribute/engage/integrate but not knowing how.
- Language and cultural barriers.
- Neocolonialism. Are we any better than expats, are we…Nextpats. How do we avoid the “bubble”.
- Mental/Emotional/Psychological challenges: Are you running away? Being alone when you’re sick and other fear factors, sense of identity, reverse culture shock– not being able to fit back in, commitment issues….
The standout issues can be addressed to a degree with awareness of Nomad Social Responsibility. If you haven’t heard this term before, it refers to the notion that we can and should consider our impact on the cultures and environments we inhabit as location independent professionals.
NSR asks that we consider the following values, and try and implement them in our LI lives.
- Social responsibility
- Celebrating diversity
- Environmental responsibility
- Local community integration
- Balance impact and profit, purpose, lifestyle
- Respecting traditional cultures
- Cogiving: collaborative giving
- Empathy: Listening to others
- Investing in local resources
- Community engagement
Whilst it may be hard for individuals to find solutions in foreign and new cultures, where language is a barrier, coworking spaces and community organisations within the LIM can help raise awareness of NSR and offer practical tools and resources, such as…
- Access to local homestays.
- Workshops for locals: Airbnb training for free.
- Connecting Coworking spaces with local Freelancing spaces.
- Partnerships with local business, directory of local suppliers, freelancers.
- Language meet-ups, cultural orientation for free.
- Volunteer opportunity directories.
- Cogiving: project based giving initiative.
Coworkation organises coworking retreats that facilitate workshops and activities to encourage the growth of your business or project. We aim to arm people with the skills, resources and connections that allow them to take their location independent life to the next level, wherever they’re at.
Building upon the trend towards location independence, we want more than anything to be involved in facilitating skill-sharing, empowering people to design their own lives, and connecting people with their worldwide tribe through sharing a comprehensive network of coworking and co-living spaces and events.
This isn’t just about lifestyle design, productivity hacks, apps and travel. This is about being inspired to unleash your creative potential, it’s about having the right environment, resources and support to find or create your purpose in life. In our way, we hope to contribute to making our dream of a true global community, a reality.