HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

Digital nomads: Aussies confident they can do their work across borders

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

The increase in remote working in recent years has breathed life into the idea of the digital nomad.

A digital nomad is someone who works online from various locations rather than being restricted to just the office or their home.

COVID-19 saw a significant rise in these types of workers as restrictions shook up work norms. In the US, between 2019 and 2020, reports said that digital nomad numbers increased by 49 per cent.


Three years later, in 2023, the concept is still going strong, with ADP’s People at Work 2023: A Global Workforce View report claiming that 30 per cent of Australian workers believe they could relocate overseas and still stay working for their current employer.

“The option for extended travel and true workplace flexibility by being able to work from anywhere is becoming a huge consideration for Australian workers,” said ADP’s ANZ managing director Kylie Baullo.

Ms Baullo noted that young workers are more likely to take up these opportunities. Thirty-nine per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds consider relocation an option compared to only 9 per cent of those aged 55 or older.

“Young people crave experiences abroad following COVID-induced lockdowns. This changing landscape of work has expanded workers’ horizons – and the trend is here to stay,” she said.

There are a variety of benefits that can come from the digital nomadic lifestyle, said Ms Baullo.

“Flexibility of location empowers workers to explore countries with lower living costs or a different life experience, leading to heightened job satisfaction. Employers who offer location flexibility can therefore attract a larger pool of talent,” Ms Baullo explained.

“In light of these shifting expectations, employers in Australia need to carefully assess their comfort level in enabling remote work abroad and proactively adapt their policies and systems to meet these evolving needs.”

IT, in particular, agree with this idea, with 70 per cent of workers in the industry believing they could do their role from another country.

Employers may need to get used to the possibility of this coming up in the workplace, with 18 per cent of Aussie workers believing borderless remote work will become readily available in their industry within five years.

Many are already seeing the possibilities, with 20 per cent of employers offering complete flexibility. Eighteen per cent of workers said being able to choose where they work is an important factor when choosing a job.

Ms Baullo continued: “Ensuring the appropriate placement of workers becomes paramount for employers, particularly in the Australian context. Factors such as security and logistical considerations, including safe access to company networks and effectively managing work across wildly different time zones, must be effectively addressed.”

“It is imperative for employers to communicate clearly and transparently regarding the permissibility of working from abroad and the specific circumstances under which it is allowed. They should be well prepared to handle requests for overseas work, emphasising to employees that having a laptop does not automatically grant unlimited work freedom.”


Remote working

Professionals can use remote work as a working method to do business away from a regular office setting. It is predicated on the idea that work need not be carried out in a certain location to be successful.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.