Global nomads or just 21st century settlers?

by Priit Alamäe, Nortal CEO, May 17, 2017

Moving to a new country every six months appeals to many millennials, but in the long run, countries that convince talent to stay longer will be the winners. A vibrant economy and great investment climate are of key importance.

N+1 articles have already been written about how millennials are a special and demanding new breed of humans. The generation of global nomads who refuse to work fixed hours, want to create value with a latte and a slim silver laptop from any beach cafe in South-East Asia, will never again call a taxi or stay in a hotel. Millennials are supposed to be the generation re-shaping the existing world order, extinguishing capitalism as we know it and forcing companies to adapt to their requirements or go out of business.

But what if there exists an alternative reality where the employers simply refuse to change and surrender to the millennial ultimatum? What if the millennial dream of changing the world will turn into a slow and painful process of adapting to reality?

You can rename a salesperson to ‘customer success evangelist’ but the revenue quota still needs to be delivered at the end of the quarter. What if the global nomad is just a new and fancy term for freelancing?  There has always been a niche in society for freelancers and there is a high probability that the niche itself will not increase, just the work in this niche will become a bit more location-independent.

The majority of any society still wants stability. Try imagining a new globetrotting global nomad freelancer every six months as your child’s teacher, your doctor, policeman, judge, army officer… the list goes on and on. And these jobs still constitute maybe 90% or even more of our society. Even the companies who are promising to disrupt the whole world are still expecting their employees to come to the office every morning so that the teams could work together. Yes, things might be different fifty years from now but by then the millennials will have grown into disillusioned grumpy old couples who want to stay close to their grandkids and have good healthcare.

The war for talent among countries is increasing. All maturing societies face the same issue – how to increase the inflow of talented and entrepreneurial people who want to settle and increase the tax base that will pay for the healthcare and pensions of the aging indigenous population. To complicate things, nowadays societies are looking for newcomers that are also culturally compatible, so a society to be as attractive as possible for it to be able to choose between the potential settlers.

A global nomad is interested in consuming the best a society can offer and then move on if the heart so desires, minimizing the residual value left behind. As a society, you want ants rather than butterflies. You want people who come to settle, tying their future with your future and committing to long-term contributions to the society.

We strongly believe that a simple and easy-to-navigate business and investment climate will be the key issue in creating a vibrant economy that draws these 21st-century settlers. Combining policy innovation with data-driven technology and change management, it is possible to radically improve the ease of doing business in any country within two years, provided that the political will is there.