Working Remotely Abroad: Five Risks Self-Employed Digital Nomads Should Be Aware Of
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. While the trend among employees clearly goes towards home office, digital nomadism is becoming increasingly popular among freelancers and the self-employed - both permanently and on a monthly basis. However, the new freedom also brings with it some risks that you should keep an eye on – we will examine some of the most important ones in this article.
Working Remotely Abroad: The Trend of Digital Nomadism
According to a large-scale study by the US blog ABrotherAbroad.com, there were around 35 million digital nomads worldwide at the end of 2022. Around 83 percent of them are self-employed individuals in the fields of IT and technology, online marketing, design, text and e-commerce, who either have their own business (66 percent) or work as a freelancer (34 percent). The majority of digital nomads come from the USA (31 percent), Portugal (8 percent), Germany (7 percent) and Brazil (5 percent) and are on average between 35 and 40 years old.
The restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic most likely rekindled the trend towards digital nomadism. In 2019, for example, just under 16.9 million people thought of themselves as digital nomads. For many, the freedom to work anywhere in the world, combining work and travel, is the biggest motivator for the remote model. But with that freedom comes some new challenges to keep in mind.
#1 Internet Connection
If you have a digital business, you usually only need a laptop and a good Internet connection – but the latter can quickly become a challenge. Of course, almost every hotel, airport, as well as numerous restaurants and public facilities now offer Internet access – but the bandwidth is often not good enough. And, the more people use the same network, the slower it can become – anyone who has ever worked at a trade fair has probably experienced this. Large coworking spaces in particular repeatedly struggle with this problem when a lot of people use the space at the same time.
So you should make sure you are in a place with a stable internet connection, especially for important appointments – such as online meetings with clients or customers. The choice of location not only affects your place of work, but may also affect the countries you want to travel to. Anyone who wants to work in a Tibetan monastery, for example, should first find out about the Internet conditions there and, for example, not plan any meetings during this time.
#2 Unsafe Networks
Even if there is a strong enough Internet connection, you should exercise caution, because public facilities such as train stations and airports, as well as restaurants and hotels, often have networks that are not always sufficiently secured by encryption. This makes it easier for cybercriminals to access and steal confidential data. One way to solve this problem is with a VPN, for example.
#3 Inadequate Backups
Speaking of cyber security: One of the most important rules when it comes to cyber security is: Make regular and secure backups in case your business falls victim to a successful cyber attack. Anyone who works remotely should ensure they use suitable storage media and not USB sticks or cloud services for the consumer sector.
The following article provides a good overview of IT risks for freelancers and the self-employed with numerous practical examples: IT Risks: Lessons Learned and Precautions For Your Business
Especially during the final phase of a project, you often have to communicate more frequently with your customers – in writing or verbally. What can make this communication more difficult, apart from a weak internet connection, is working in different time zones. There are already different time zones in Europe, and it gets even more difficult if you work from the USA, China or Australia, for example. It’s really important here that you adapt to your customers – even if it means having to host an online meeting from your hotel at 1am. Also, with regard to deadlines, make sure that you don’t fall behind as your clients naturally expect the work to be delivered within their own time zone.
#5 Professional Mistakes
Regardless of whether you work from Germany, Austria or Switzerland or from a campsite in Finland, a hotel in China or a coworking space in South Africa: Professional mistakes, such as an error in code, an incorrect layout or a comma error in an ad, can happen to you anywhere. That’s why it makes sense to protect your business with Professional Indemnity Insurance.
In a video interview, Nick Oestreich from Uplink, a network for IT freelancers, talked to us about how working as a digital nomad actually feels and what the challenges are:
Safe Regardless of Location with Professional Indemnity through exali
No matter where you work from: With Professional Indemnity Insurance through exali, you are not only covered in the event of professional errors, but also in the event of legal warnings, for example due to legal violations, or cyber damage that your client incurs as a result of an error or hack in your systems. exali offers tailor-made insurance solutions for freelancers and self-employed people from a wide variety of industries such as IT and tech (e.g. programmers, software developers), media and design (e.g. bloggers, graphic designers) as well as for service providers (e.g. virtual assistants).
By the way: With exali, you are also well insured as a digital nomad. For one thing, Professional Indemnity Insurance through exali offers worldwide coverage, so you can carry out projects for clients all over the world. And on the other hand, our Professional Indemnity Insurance is available in many European countries, including Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Croatia, Estonia, Czech Republic or Malta. Visit www.exali.com for an overview of all the countries where we offer Professional Indemnity.
Do you have any questions or would you like advice in German or English? Then feel free to contact our customer service team on +49 (0) 821 80 99 46-0 (available by telephone Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CET) or use our contact form.
Daniela has been working in the areas of (online) editing, social media and online marketing since 2008. At exali, she is particularly concerned with the following topics: Risks through digital platforms and social media, cyber dangers for freelancers and IT risk coverage.
In addition to her work as an online editor at exali, she works as a freelance editor and therefore knows the challenges of self-employment from her own experience.