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Some friends meet every week on Clubhouse in quiet ‘co-working’ rooms just to hear the sound of each others’ keyboards while they are working from home. One company I spoke to is introducing a ‘virtual hug’ function to help employees feel more connected. People from remote locations up in the North are moving back home, eager to work remotely while living close to their roots once again. 

I’ve been a digital nomad and freelancer for the past ten years. Location independent, laptop in my backpack, free to roam wherever and work at the same time. Tokyo, London, Windhoek, Kiev. Part of a movement that has been challenging the 9-to-5 for some time already.

Now, I find myself working on my sofa in Stockholm. Birds singing outside. A cool breeze hits my hand as I reach for my third cup of coffee. Sweat pants on and my daughter’s toys scattered across the room. Work from home. One of the most used words in the professional world during the pandemic?  

We will not go back to the old ways. Flexibility will be a term for the future – be it for individuals, organizations or societies. Hybrid working models where we meet some days in the office and spend the rest working from somewhere else. From home, a van or a co-working space. Or maybe a virtual co-working space? Working in a distributed team. We’ll take a walk-and-talk to explore the outside while on the phone. And then close down our computers and attempt to disconnect.

‘The new rich’. That is how the digital nomad lifestyle has been described. Richness is not measured in fancy titles, high salaries or expensive cars anymore. It’s more about having a meaningful freetime. Doing what you love outside of work. Having work adapt to the way you want to live your life, and not the other way around.

Can a positive impact of the pandemic be that more of us become ‘rich’? 

In recent studies people proclaim that the best part of remote work has been not needing to commute. All this time we can save on a daily basis! To take a stroll in the forest, fly a helicopter over the alps, or head off to a remote location somewhere to discuss spatial strategies. Spend more time with friends and family. 

We are in the middle of creating ‘the new normal’. Of course it will be challenging going forward. Society as we know it is changing. We’ll all deal with it in our own way. Depending on our culture, our job, our needs and desires. It’s important to respect our differences, but also to learn from each other’s perspectives.

The pandemic has taught us to appreciate the human aspect of work, and life, in a whole new way. The tech that is being created today is centered around helping us feel more connected.

So let’s continue to explore together without borders. Let’s continue to learn; by talking with each other, blending perspectives, and co-creating the big and the small. I’m hopeful. And excited.

Emelie Fågelstedt

Emelie Fågelstedt

Digital, future of work and entrepreneurship