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Unpacking the ideas and trends shaping Asia’s future
The idea of working remotely is no longer unusual—and this might not change even after the pandemic. Why? Let’s take a Deep Dive.

🧳 Before the pandemic, digital nomads—people who work remotely while travelling to different locations—already existed. It was already becoming more common as people and companies increasingly realised not only the feasibility of remote work, but also its merits.

💪 Digital nomads tend to be equally, if not more productive than office workers, plus they save companies money by not taking up office space. Shifting to a hybrid or fully remote work model also makes companies more competitive in attracting and retaining the best talents.

👋 Some countries are taking steps to widen their doors to digital nomads, to make up for their failing tourism economy. Remote work visas are fast becoming a thing, but only a handful of Asian governments have shown signs of interest in the idea—most of them in Southeast Asia.
“With Covid, I think the digital nomadism trend has been accelerated by three to four years. Companies will have to embrace it, as the best hires may no longer be based locally or working for only one company. When the pool of digital nomads grows large enough, they may influence government policies, and how communities and cities are built.”
70% By 2025, it’s estimated that about 70 percent of the global workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month.

3 Within a few months of the coronavirus outbreak last year, LinkedIn saw remote job postings on its platform nearly triple, with the Philippines reportedly seeing the highest growth in Asia.

12 Most remote work visas available today typically last up to 12 months and offer local tax waivers. 

94% A recent survey found that even with employees working remotely, 94 percent of employers surveyed said their company productivity was either the same or higher than before the pandemic.

US$13 billion The global co-working space market is expected to grow from US$7.97 billion in 2020 to slightly over US$13 billion in 2025.
What year was the term “digital nomad” reportedly first coined?

A. 1985
B. 1993
C. 1997

Scroll to the bottom of the email for the answer.
The world’s first visa designed specifically for digital nomads was launched last August by Estonia, the European country that gave us Skype. It was quickly followed by Dubai, Croatia and several Caribbean nations.

By contrast, no Asian nations have announced such a visa yet. But there are signs of progress in two of the most popular digital nomad destinations, Indonesia and Thailand, with the former exploring a five-year visa.
Is async work the next frontier of remote work? The Nomad List’s Pieter Levels predicts that once remote work achieves mainstream status, it could lead to asynchronous work, where people work within their own optimal times and without needing to wait for someone else.

🌳 ‘Zoom towns’ are drawing outdoorsy digital nomads. Across the US, several scenic towns and cities are appealing to remote workers seeking a higher quality of life by dangling the nature carrot. A few are even paying them thousands of dollars to stay.

👩‍💻 Remote work demand has increased, with top jobs varying per market. In several countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and China, the most popular remote jobs are customer or technical support roles.  

🌹 The nomadic lifestyle isn’t all rosy. Digital nomads may have a pristine beach at their doorstep, but there may be some things their Instagram photos aren’t telling you. This includes job insecurity, a low salary and longer work hours than you’d expect. But it might be true that they’re happier.
In this video, entrepreneur and digital nomad Ahmed Mokhtar says the change in perspective on remote work since the pandemic broke out is down to trust—the trust that business owners and managers have in their employees to work remotely without losing productivity.
Due to certain job limitations, such as the need to use fixed or heavy equipment, only a proportion of a country’s workforce can realistically work remotely. Considering the job distribution in different economies, developed nations are more likely to have a larger decentralised workforce than emerging nations.
Olumide Gbenro
Bali-based social media influencer Olumide Gbenro is helping to grow the world’s largest community of digital nomads. He founded the Digital Nomad Summit and, in 2020, launched a petition with two other entrepreneurs calling on the Indonesian government to create a remote work visa.
Mario Berta
An Airbnb for offices, Mario Berta’s FlySpaces helps organisations to maximise their office space. Nomadic workers, for example, can rent furnished, well-equipped spaces by the year, day or even hour, all with the click of an app. 
On July 8, we’re teaming up with luxury fashion maison Valentino to host a private virtual panel discussion on how to lead with emotional intelligence. The Cloud Talk session features three speakers: DesignSingapore Council’s Mark Wee, Jublia’s Errol Lim and Lyte Ventures’ Vincent Ha. By invitation only.
Fancy working by the pool or in a ferris wheel? Late last year, Yomiuriland, an amusement park in Tokyo, introduced its “Amusement Workation” day pass. It comes with a poolside work booth; a one-hour ride on the Ferris wheel, for which you’ll be given a portable Wi-Fi router; and access to an onsen, just outside the park. 
That’s it for this issue. Have a productive week!

This issue of the Deep Dive was written by Chong Seow Wei, with design and illustration by Francesca Gamboa.

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The answer to the quiz is C (1997).
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