What Does it Mean to be a Digital Worker?

So you might have seen that Jobspotting was on ZDF (Hi Mom! We’re on TV!) at the end of April. The segment that we took part in was all about digital workers, and people who travel to new cities for work.

Moving abroad for a job isn’t a new phenomenon, but the digital economy has moved the goalposts slightly. In digital jobs, people can more or less work from anywhere, and can also choose to move to a new location because it fits better into their lifestyles.

According to the stats quoted in the video, there are circa 6,000 startups in Germany alone, with on average around 17 employees each. That works out at about 100,000 ‘digital workers’ in total. In Berlin, which is home to the majority of German startups, a third of all employees are from other countries.

While, the video rightly underlines that digital work has less security than a more traditional career, many young people are choosing this option as a way to learn, to have a direct impact on the success of the company, and to follow ideas they believe in. For them, the risk is worth it. 

In the video, we talk about some of the reasons that people choose this type of work. For many, it’s a case that the existence of a wealth of information online makes it easier to see work as a global activity – something that can be pursued anywhere. Within Europe, that’s even easier as open borders allow people to move quickly without having to hack through that much red tape. It’s simply a matter of finding which job is exactly right for you.

For others, digital work offered a different opportunity. In the last 8 years since the economic downturn, the jobs that people had expected to graduate into simply weren’t available anymore. They had to think about their careers differently, and to come up with creative ways to cobble together a career.

Software developers didn’t have this problem. They were (and still are) being offered jobs left, right and centre. What has changed for them is the primacy of their jobs in the working world. A great – or even not-so-great – developer can pick and choose between a plethora of jobs, which gives them a huge amount of control over the kinds of work they do, the kinds of lives they live.

So being a digital worker means having a lot of choice, a whole world of potential, infinite flexibility and the chance to make a really meaningful impact on the future of a company. It also means an absence of professional security, but that security is something this generation already had taken away from them. Capitalising on flexibility is the only way forward.

Carrie M. King

Carrie M. King

Carrie M. King is the Editor of the Journal by Jobspotting. Hailing originally from smack-bang in the middle of Ireland, she moved to Berlin in 2014 to join the gang at Jobspotting. Carrie previously worked in journalism and literature. If you want to share thoughts or ideas, get in touch: carrie@jobspotting.com

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