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Office Nomads: take your job to where you want to be

KPMG Demographer, Bernard Salt explores the growing breed of small business owners no longer confined by a traditional office space. 

Question: what do you call a small business owner without an office? Answer: an Office Nomad.

An Office Nomad isn’t the annoying work colleague who never seems to do anything other than wander aimlessly around the office all day.

No, a modern day Office Nomad is someone who may work from a traditional office, home office, co-working space, coffee shop, an airport lounge or a hotel lobby and the like.

The Office Nomad is continually on the go – meeting clients, inspecting sites, attending off-site meetings.

In an Office Nomad world, business owners are not confined by a traditional workspace, they simply ‘touch down’ in a temporary office in order to ‘collaborate’ and then spin off to actually complete their work in a place that is far from the madding cubicle.

KPMG Demographer, Bernard Salt

Meet the nomads

But who are the businesses benefiting from this nomadic work style?

Meet the micro-business owner and the sole-trader.

These are businesses that employ less than five people and they have been the fastest growing genre of business entity in Australia the last five years, with sole-traders reaching a new base of 1.2 million.

Small businesses employing between 1-4 workers also saw significant growth over the same timeframe to reach a new base of 582,000. We are turning into a workforce, if not a nation, of small and independent businesses.

Part of this trend can perhaps be attributed to the collapse of the mining boom which resulted in the retrenchment of skilled workers who may be reinventing themselves as sole trader consultants and contractors.

This growing group of business owners are saying goodbye to the nine-to-five workday to pursue a flexible business venture in collaborative working spaces.

Small business, big thinking

But the rise of more small business operators is much more than this.

It is a lifestyle shift underpinned by retrenched mining operatives as well as by downshifting baby boomers looking to reinvent themselves. As a consequence we are seeing the rise of a new lifeform.

Out with the FIFO (Fly-in-fly-out) worker; in with the Office Nomad. If you are a sole trader, a consultant or a contractor then there is no need for a traditional office.

It is now possible with access to the cloud and access to fast broadband over the nbn™ network to download files, upload photos, conduct video conferencing, or manage accounts payable and accounts receivable from any nomadic location you choose.

Here is the ultimate Aussie lifestyle. Take your job to where you want to be. The rise of the Office Nomad may be a phenomenon of the post-FIFO world and it offers a working life that is deeply aligned with Australian values.

Finally—finally—after decades of yearning and wishing and dreaming it now possible to organise your work around your life rather than have your work dictate where you live and the hours and the locations in which you work.

I confidently predict that the Office Nomad is here to stay. Australians will see it as being way too good a deal to let slip away.

Read more about the Office Nomads in our special blog series.

Last updated on 18 July 2016

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