Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
A new employment site aims to give teleworkers a drastic change of scenery.
Tried of working from home? You could change up your coffee shop routine. Or you could ditch your current grind entirely and go program apps in Jakarta, Bali, or Barcelona.
That’s the premise of Jobbatical, a new site that connects wanderlust-stricken workers with employees looking to hire people for short-term gigs.
In the intro video, founder Karoli Hindriks explains, “This is where the world is headed—working on an on-demand basis.”
That does seem to be true. In many industries, the traditional office model has already been shaken up. Instead of embarking on draining commutes, employees are telecommuting; instead of hiring a robust long-term staff, managers hire a steady rotation of specialized temp workers to tackle specific projects. In 2010, 13.4 million Americans worked from home at least one day per week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. That number is likely to continue to climb. Within the decade, more than 60 million people—40 percent of the workforce—may be freelance or contract-based employees.
Thanks to the trend towards nomadic employment, many workers won’t be tethered to a specific city, let alone a desk.
Of course, going freelance doesn’t mean that bills suddenly disappear. Jobbatical offers freelancers the chance to experience a new environment while growing their client base. (Many of the jobs in the site’s current marketplace are in the coding sector, where skills easily translate from one location to another.)
The potential problem is that we may confuse work with vacation. "I tried the vacation thing. I spent eight days in Malaysia, and I thought I would lose my mind," Hindriks—a native of Estonia—told Fast Company. She imagined Jobbatical as a solution, writing that the site aims to be:
A combination between recharging your batteries, expanding your world view, and sharing new ideas without dipping into your life savings.
Americans are already pretty bad at taking breaks, though. That’s partly systemic: Nearly a quarter of American workers don’t receive any paid vacation time, reports the Center for Economic and Policy Research. But even those who have the option to take paid vacations often fail to do so. Glassdoor estimates that 75 percent of eligible U.S. employees forfeited paid vacation days in 2013. There are certainly legitimate concerns that play into people being reluctant to take vacation: Some workers worry about losing clients or whether their co-workers can shoulder their workload. Freelancers aren’t exempt, either: According to census estimates, they actually log more hours each week than employees who clock out of an office at the end of the day. The result: As a nation, we take fewer real vacations than any other OECD country.
So here’s hoping that those people who score beachside programming gigs also take some time to just sit around with a beer, staring at the waves.
(H/T: Fast Company)