These digital nomads are going to sail the world while they work
Imagine facing another day of work on your computer, full of Skype meetings, email threads and spreadsheets. But instead of rolling out of bed and trucking it to the office, you slide the curtains aside — and gaze upon the open sea and azure sky. That's the idea of Coboat, whose founders bill it as a revolutionary way to think about and to do work. The concept is similar to coworking spaces like WeWork, NextSpace and dozens of others around the world, except here you may have dolphins sidling up beside you.
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Freelancing is fast becoming a new reality for millions of workers. A 2010 Intuit studypredicted that by 2020, 40% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers — that’s more than 60 million people. And in late 2014, the Freelancers Union confirmed the trend, putting the number of freelancers at one in three working Americans.
In Europe, while the overall rise hasn’t matched the U.S., the number of freelancers in some countries — including the Netherlands and the UK — has been on the rise, reaching about 15% each last year.
Whether this trend is a good thing is debatable, but for Coboat it's clear that many people are ready to get on board. (Pun intended.) The company received early commitments from 57 people, who signed up without even having set dates or ports.
Coboat sounds like the Holy Grail for traveling freelancers: They could sail entire oceans — choosing from destinations like southeast Asia, the Maldives, the Caribbean, Mediterranean and India — and have the opportunity to connect with communities far outside the 9-to-5 world.
Other similar programs have popped up around the world, including Hackers Paradise, which takes computer engineers on 2- and 4-week working adventures, and Remote Year, which provides participants with a coworking environment in a different country each month.
Where Coboat differs from other programs is that instead of having workers move around the world, it has the world move around them. And Coboat's founders want to encourage collaboration between the individuals on board; they hope the tight quarters foster innovation and eventually action. In other words, they want it to be more than a party boat.
“If you go swimming and work on your own all day, you’re not getting the most out of it,” said one of the four co-founders, Gerald Schömbs, who forewent a university degree to start a PR firm. “It’s more about collaboration and learning through skill sessions and getting feedback and demo days to pitch projects and ideas.”