Digital Nomads, Co-living Spaces & Well-being

Faculty Research:

Researcher and lecturer Jennifer von Zumbusch and Lidija Lalicic from the MU Tourism and Service Management department have recently published a paper on digital nomads, their usage of co-living spaces and the impact on their well-being stemming out of Jennifer’s master thesis of her MU studies in International Tourism Management"The role of co-living spaces in digital nomads’ well-being" is published in the Journal of Information Technology and Travel as part of a special issue on digital nomads. 

The rise of the digital labour market in recent years has stimulated the growth of the digital nomad community. To cater to this specific work-leisure segment, many co-living spaces are actively marketing their products to be the perfect accommodation solution to help overcome the isolation that urbanity and digital nomadism bring along. However, according to the author, little research has been done to explore these new solutions of living circumstances and whether it enhances digital nomads’ lifestyle.  

“Co-living spaces were trending at the time when I was doing my master thesis research and I figured out that the digital nomad group is prominent. This group uses co-living spaces extensively and I find their lifestyle very interesting, so I decided to write about it”, Jennifer explains. 

Jennifer has no doubts that the current COVID-19 pandemic is directly affecting the digital nomads.  

“Digital nomads who have a ‘work-while-travelling’ lifestyle are definitely impacted [by COVID-19].  [However], although the pandemic has put social distancing in the norm, it does not mean co-living spaces have fallen through.  Quite the opposite, co-living spaces are providing digital nomads a ‘home’ that they need; in addition to helping with their loneliness issues while being away from home.  Results have shown that [co-living] residents are creating new ways to share resources with each other to abide by the newly introduced health and safety measures.  The situation has proven that digital nomads are in fact a neo-tribe group that offer support and look out for the other community members.    

The co-living trend will continue to be strong beyond the COVID19 pandemic.  The co-living management will have to comply with the local health regulations that are currently in place. However, as the effect is temporary, the layout of the co-living spaces will not be fundamentally changed. 

Economically, co-living is still an attractive accommodation, at least in developed countries, due to its lower-than-market rental rate.  Socially, the COVID19 pandemic not only makes people appreciate the human connection, but it also makes people realize the value of being able to live in a community.”  

Through 12 grounded theory-based interviews, digital nomads were questioned on how co-living spaces enhances their well-being.  

The paper elaborates on the specific elements of co-living spaces that influence digital nomads’ experiences and subsequently explains how the elements of digital nomads’ overall well-being link to the neo-tribe theory. In the end, based on the neo-tribe characteristics exhibited by digital nomads, practitioners are given recommendations on how to improve the design and developments of co-living spaces to facilitate digital nomads’ well-being. 

Read the full article here.  


Related subjects at MU Vienna: 

BSc in International Management 

BBA in Tourism and Hospitality Management 

BBA in Tourism, Hotel Management and Operations 

MSc in International Tourism Management