The nomadic worker's trip

Sunday, 22 october 2017 | Brenda Rodríguez López

They flow with the change, value their freedom, are camaleon-like, sociable, generous, ingenious and creative, know how to adapt to the new digital age needs, are not scared of unknown environments, replace "competing" by "sharing",... They are the workers who best face the changes that bring along the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They are professionals immersed in a trip where knowledge, personal development and creativity are the goals. What do you know about knowmads? Are they changing the labor world or do they change with it? Is this the new paradigm of the worker of the future?

 

Have you ever thought about what kind of worker you are? Do you prefer independency and flexibility or safety and stability? Do you get motivated by teamwork or do you prefer to run alone? Do you face the changes as if they were challenges?, or, do you have trouble when you try to give up doing things in a particular way? Whether you are a professional of one kind or another, you may have noticed that your labor environment is changing. It is most likely that if you have not done it yet, whether you like or not, you will need to prepare yourself for adapting to the new times and giving a twist to your professional development. A new way of understanding work is clearing the path in companies across the world, it is "the knowmad phenomenon": professionals in an active knowledge and innovation search.

Without fear of anything

John Movarec, a United States sociologist and founder of Education Futures LLC, was the one who coined the term knowmad to refer to those professionals who are capable of working with anyone, anywhere and at any moment. Individuals who use their knowledge to deal with different contexts and obstacles that they find in their work journey. These workers are characterized by their independence and malleability. At first sight, they might seem like what we nowadays label as entrepreneurs or freelancers, but although they have similarities, other qualities complement and distinguish them.

When we go into an unknown future, the uncertainty lurks at every corner. The nomadic workers  identify this mysterious and volatile terrain as a perfect location; that is the territory where they prosper and the one that makes them stand out. The new technologies advance is transforming the world and the people who inhabit it. Like Rafael Sánchez Hurtado, Co-Director of the Executive Master in Human Resources, Talent Management and Leadership of the Institute for Advanced Management CEU, explained in a recent interview <<We are moving towards increasingly changing environments where the capacity for adaptation is essential>>.

Every sector has had to adapt to new situations and face problems that have not existed before. These changes are not a problem for knowmads, these kinds of challenges are precisely what motivate them to work. In fact, the origin of this new "professional tribe" is in the context of this digital revolution that is changing the labor landscape.

 

The nomadic worker's trip

A future that is already present

From the presenteeism promoted by the old school, which was more concerned about 'how' and 'how many' rather than 'what for', to the new flexible and independent labor model, where companies promote work by projects and objectives as an opposition to the schedules and calendar compliance. The work mentality is turning 180 degrees. The independent professional hiring has grown significantly in recent times and does not seem to stop. According to a study conducted by the consultancy Hudson, half of new US workers will be self-employed. The European figures, although lower, also show an ascending trend.

A study by Oxford Economics estimates that by 2020, 45% of the world's workforce will be knowmad. This is an increasingly palpable reality. Many professionals no longer need to go to the office. Some are their own bosses or do not depend on a boss in particular. They often jump from company to company and work on highly specialized tasks. Their workday is flexible; they have no hours, no places. This is a new and different space where knowmads adapt in an unequaled way.

Can I become into a knowmad?

The changes have gone from being linear to being exponential. Like the Polish sociologist Zigmunt Bauman explained, we now live in a liquid society where nothing lasts or stays in time. You have to be willing to change your tune when it is appropriate for surviving in it. Companies and workers need to adopt a new paradigm of work; a new behaving and thinking way; a new mentality. The tomorrow's worker would fit according to this theory in the knowmad profile because, today, being impassive when it comes to facing the change can leave us behind.

Anyone can become a knowmad. This job profile has neither age nor profession, contrary to what it may seem. Their identity lies in an attitude change towards work, being willing to have a flexible and open mind, and embracing new technologies. Our work situation can change overnight and we need to be prepared. Being a nomadic worker can greatly increase our employability, where to start?

They have to leave the comfort zone to become a nomad. Knowmads are not tied to a single company, nor do they need it, but they do benefit from the privileges of networking and work in community. They live in a hyperconnected age and it is indispensable for them to have a digital brand. Achieving the necessary knowledge and being willing to innovate requires continuous effort. These workers face new and indeterminate obstacles and have to be prepared to deal with them. Their best asset is their talent.


The nomadic journey is a personal path where workers are responsible for their work and the goals that they set for themselves. Their professional career follows the path that they determine. And you, traveler, how far are you willing to move?