At age 21, I left the United States and embraced a fully nomadic existence.
I’d traveled before, but always with plans of returning home. This time, I had a one way ticket. Six years have passed, and I’ve never really looked back.
I began traveling from ecolodge to ecolodge, trading my skills for room and board. It was transient, unstable, and beautiful, but when the opportunity arose to take a job as an editor for an online mindful media platform, I welcomed the (relative) financial sustainability.
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To be a mission-driven digital nomad is a unique privilege in a world where so many people are seeking to align their passion and purpose with alternative and regenerative lifestyles.
It’s also an increasingly viable choice in the digital age.
More and more companies such as GitHub now allow their employees to work remotely. Entrepreneurial millennials are pursuing independent projects in droves. By all current projections, the future looks remote—1 million digital nomads by 2035.
It makes sense, then, that “coworking” have developed rapidly to support this trend. If you haven’t noticed, coworking spaces like Selina (Costa Rica), Nonce (South Korea), and Permalab (Portugal) are proliferating in every corner of the word.
What we choose to do with that new location independence? That’s up to us.
I’ve been a digital nomad (although I use the term grudgingly) for around 5 years now, and I’ve explored every possible form of virtual office. Urban cafe, self-reliant jungle ecovillage, remote cottage in the woods, hammock, hostel, couchsurfing, airbnb—if you can name it, I’ve probably tried working there.
After all that exploration, I think I’ve discovered the magic equation for productivity: coworking in nature.
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Coworking is generally defined as “a self-directed, collaborative, flexible and voluntary work style that is based on mutual trust and the sharing of common core values between its participants.” Coworking in nature adds that paradise vibe you usually can’t find in the city. Birds singing, waves crashing, sun shining, monkeys playing, bare feet on the earth… you get the idea.
I believe that coworking in lush, natural surroundings is more fun, more productive, and more sustainable than any other setup. When I can work outside in the morning, it balances out computer work in the afternoon. When I’m part of a self-reliant, sustainable ecosystem, I feel aligned with the content I’m creating for my work with NuMundo.
Here are a few of my favorite benefits to coworking in nature:
- Healthy lifestyle. When we cowork in paradise, we’re probably also eating local, breathing fresh air, connecting with community, and practicing yoga, meditation, or similar activities in our off hours. If we’re coworking at a self-sufficient permaculture farm, even better! This kind of holistically aligned lifestyle boosts our energy, brain waves, and mood, so that when we’re on, we’re on.
- Support at your fingertips. Your literal fingertips—not the virtual, Google-variety kind. Want a second opinion on some content? Not sure how to phrase a delicate email? Need a hug? Nothing beats asking an actual human—or tree. With coworking spaces, those human experts are just a head nod or “hey you” away.
- Ambient action. If you’re like me, you have a hard time focusing if it’s “too quiet.” Music works. So do jungle concerts, if you live in Costa Rica. But there’s something uniquely stimulating about the sound, sight, and even feeling of the natural world doing it’s thing. Wind, palm trees, and jungle sounds make for unparalleled ambient noise. I also like the feeling of other people working nearby. It’s pretty damn inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs and changemakers whose work you admire.
- Emotional Recharge. Short, enlivening breaks are proven to make us more productive when we get back to the task at hand. And those breaks can be much more fulfilling when we use them for meaningful interaction with self or others—a walk in the woods, meditation in the sun, or quick chat over coffee, for instance. With coworking spaces immersed in nature, opportunities to recharge our emotional batteries are as abundant as charging stations for our tech.
- Accountability. Nothing motivates hard work and focus like watching other highly-motivated individuals pour their passion into purposeful projects. Coworking spaces tend to attract the kind of mission-driven digital nomads who populate NuMundo’s global community. While you may think coworking would enable procrastination, in my experience it actually keeps us accountable. I imagine the hoards of location independents gravitating toward these spaces would agree.
- Networking. Those entrepreneurs and changemakers innovating creative solutions to climate change and building regenerative enterprises? They could be your next business partner, collaborator, or affiliate. In today’s work environment, our professional and personal lives are beautifully tangled in our search for purpose-driven work. Embrace the inevitable, and take advantage of sustainable coworking spaces as the ideal playground for forming connections at all levels.
- Happy people are more productive. Coworking in a natural paradise is fun. It addresses our human need for interaction, support, community and stimulation in a holistic way. It also supports the earth by giving business to regenerative living centers like Puerta a la Vida, which feels good. When our needs are met and we feel good, we can focus that happy energy on getting things done.
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Do you like to cowork in nature? We’d love to hear about it! Please share your experiences in the comments.
Ready to dive into a sustainable lifestyle of coworking and co-living? Connect with a like-minded crew of changemakers and vagabonds with NuMundo’s first co-living and co-working immersion. Each day you’ll have solid wi-fi with time to keep your projects going AND join activities such as acro-yoga, surfing, ecstatic dance, authentic relating games, hiking to the river, and touring the permaculture orchards.
Enter our exclusive discount code HOMESTEAD at checkout for $50 off.
Toby Israel (NuMundo Chief Storyteller) is a vagabondess and storyteller with a metaphorical closet full of hats. She is a creative facilitator, editor, and writer, as well as a trained Empowerment Self-Defense Instructor and Yoga Instructor. She regularly facilitates workshops and retreats to empower, inspire, and transform. She is a full-time lover of movement, food, and words, expressing light and dark through dance, poetry, songwriting, and edible alchemy. For the moment, Toby lives in Costa Rica. (She came for a masters degree in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies from the UN-mandated University for Peace — and stayed for the papaya, sunshine, and conscious community.)