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Are internet friends 'real' friends?

A closer look at the realities of remote work

Welcome to Borderless. Every week, we handpick the best links on digital nomads, remote work and global mobility to help you navigate the quirks of living and working on the internet.

This week’s issue explores the intricacies of remote work – from its complex socio economics, to its simple pleasures.

In case you hadn’t noticed, remote work is rapidly changing the way we live, work and interact. And yet, even those of us embedded in nomad culture sometimes forget to look up from our laptops and take a bird’s eye view at the subtleties of how that change is unfolding. The stories in this week’s issue offer a closer look at the realities of remote work and the social impact nomads have on the host communities they visit. 

We’ve handpicked pieces that tackle thorny topics like the ethics of hiring virtual assistants and the fierce competition between digital and physical companies for the future of the global economy. We also bring you heartwarming tales about how remote workers are rejuvenating local libraries, a meditation on the authenticity of online friendships, and an ode to the vivacious nomad hotspot of Lisbon. 

Wherever you are in the world right now, have a joyful and productive week. 

– Anna at SafetyWing

Despite initial fears of the pandemic creating a “she-cession”, recent data suggests that remote work is now helping women rejoin the workforce. If the trend continues it could mean that in the future, women will face less of a “motherhood penalty” for taking time off to have children.

Olga Khazan for The Atlantic

Libraries across the US are welcoming more people than ever through their doors, a trend driven by nomads and remote workers. They offer the same amenities as coworking spaces, but for free. Some say remote workers are gentrifiers, but turns out they might also be community revivers.

Cloey Callahan for WorkLife

There’s a fevered battle playing out in tech right now. The “Bits” (digital companies that make software and virtual reality) versus the “Atoms” (manufacturers of hardware and physical goods). Who will win in the fight for the future of the world economy?

Nadia Asparouhova for The Point

In the Portuguese capital, expats, nomads, tech workers and artists from all over the world are driving a cultural movement reminiscent of 1920s Paris. “This isn’t hustle culture, it’s creative culture: a culture of people pursuing vibrant, fulfilling, and interesting lives.”

Lauren Razavi for Global Natives

American entrepreneurs are hiring virtual assistants in Manila to handle their drudge work. While Filipino VAs can earn up to four times the local wage, the practice highlights how the 4-hour work-week economy is overly reliant on outsourced – and often exploited – labor.

Ashley Westerman for Rest of World

Nomads and remote workers don’t have the same opportunities to make and maintain IRL friendships, but that doesn’t diminish the value of their digital relationships. Sometimes it’s easier to find your people online than it is in person. This piece celebrates the joy and authenticity of online friendship and will ring true for anyone who has more online than offline friends.

Elle Griffin for The Elysian

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