It’s no secret: Mobile technology is taking over the world. 77% of Americans now own a smartphone, and it’s expected there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users globally by 2020. When we hear “mobile,” we often think “convenience.” Or “speed.” Or “efficiency.”

But mobile technology is doing more than just changing how quickly we can work. It’s transforming how we work altogether.

Enter the Digital Nomad. While it’s unclear when exactly the term was coined, it began gaining steam in the late 2000s as more blogs focused on remote working popped up, including National Geographic’s Digital Nomad blog.

So just what is a Digital Nomad? Some Digital Nomads own and run their own small businesses. Others are employees of larger corporations. And some are freelancers.  But they all have one thing in common: They use technology to work from anywhere and live a remote, independent lifestyle. This could mean closing deals from a beach. Or coding from a treehouse. Or holding meetings from a tiny restaurant in an unfamiliar city.

In truth, the definition of a Digital Nomad is as nuanced and complex as each individual — and the lifestyle stands to become even more prominent as we enter a fully mobile world. 

While we can’t provide examples of each and every type of digital nomad, here are a few you may have crossed paths with. Who knows, maybe you’ll aspire to become a Digital Nomad yourself: 

The Wanderlust-er:

This worker craves travel — not to get away from others — but to feel more connected. They live for the panache and glamour of jet-setting, meeting new faces, and soaking in new cultures and environments. If they can sharpen their mind and heighten their experiences while getting work done at the same time, why not? It’s not unheard of to catch this type of nomad, armed with a single knapsack, zipping to and from a destination in a single day. Yet you’ll also find them tirelessly clacking away at a cafe during a 10-day jaunt in Tokyo. They seem to be immune to jetlag. With more and more innovative apps allowing greater flexibility than ever before, the Wanderlust-er is becoming increasingly common.

The Remote Worker:

These Digital Nomads are the ones that actually wind up in offices — just not their own. Ever roll into the marketing department to find an unfamiliar face sitting in the desk next to yours — only to learn it’s actually the colleague from the Boston office, with whom you’ve chatted on innumerable email threads? These Digital Nomads aren’t necessarily anti-office, but they are certainly pro-travel. They’re known to have nametags at multiple desks, and a suitcase ready to go at a moment’s notice.

The Solitary Achiever:  

Don’t let the name mislead you — this Digital Nomad is as much of a team player as any — but they find themselves avoiding desks and, often, buildings altogether. Rather, they write and work best in a nature-esque and secluded environments. This may be in an AirBnb treehouse, a cabin, or even on the deck of a ferry headed to mystical lands of rural Washington. They’re freelancers, wanderers, and explorers. They put their work before socializing and feel recharged by quiet and solitude. And of course, they’re always available via Slack.

These are just three flavors of the virtually infinite types of Digital Nomads. In our next installment of this series, we’ll look at the research behind the role technology has played in the rise of Digital Nomad: Just how quickly is mobile technology accelerating? Why has remote working surged in popularity? And what are the stats on remote work and job fulfillment?

Curious to know how DocuSign for Mobile can help you realize your wanderlust dreams?

Whether you’re hooked on the idea of collaborating with colleagues from an underground cafe, clacking away at a draft in the middle of a meadow, or simply want the freedom to go anywhere and everywhere at a moment’s notice, leveraging mobile technology like DocuSign can help you get there. Read on.