Cornwall: Home for the digital nomad?

4th May, 2018

Seaside

In case you missed last night’s airing of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Out of Office: The Rise of the Digital Nomad’, you can catch up on the episode here. Jonty Bloom, Business Correspondent for the BBC travelled the world to find out if digital nomads could represent the future of work.

We know there is an army of digital nomads wandering the world connected to colleagues and clients via laptop and email.

Cornwall was one of the regions included by the BBC alongside Portugal and New Zealand because it provides the technological infrastructure to support this independent way of working. The region is fast becoming a global tech destination as a result. A combination of lower overheads, access to connected communities with shared thinking, a great work/life balance and a 45 minute flight to the capital, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the region is considered one of the high growth digital-tech clusters in the UK, confirmed by a report due out later this month.

If we look at one or two specific sectors, the growth has been phenomenal. According to recent research carried out by PFA Research Ltd, the creative technology sector in Cornwall has grown 76% since 2010, with the sector currently estimated to have a turnover of around £172 million. With so much activity in the industry, we’re seeing a growing community attracting a wider group of talent and businesses. There are currently almost 1,000 businesses in the region making up the industry, a figure that has risen by 57% since 2010.

Microtest Cornwall

Could those companies have chosen to set up elsewhere in the world? Possibly. However, when we spoke to many of the companies for the creativetech research report, they highlighted a range of benefits to employees which meant attracting and retaining staff was easy, with 41% of interviewed companies attracting skilled workers from the wider South West (20%) or the UK (24%) and even from Europe or internationally (8% each). An undeniable benefit of this region in particular was confirmed by one company director who said that, “The quality of life here, the environment” is one of the main factors helping their retention of staff. This feeling was shared by several other employers who pointed to Cornwall’s lifestyle as a pull for employees. The flexibility of working hours in the region as well as Cornwall’s attitude towards promoting positive and flexible working to aid a strong work / life balance has officially been called out as a key differentiator from other regions in the UK, and globally.

In addition to the region being rated the most flexible in England (Michael Page’s ‘How flexible is the UK? How does your region stack up?’) which is really important to employers to maintain good morale and a positive working environment, the creativetech sector itself has also got something to offer, with the “interesting, challenging and variety of work” called out as a key factor in helping employers to keep hold of skilled employees.

Paddleboard

With the rise of the digital nomad we are working hard to ensure that people across the region may share learnings, best practice and provide networking opportunities to help relationships and businesses thrive. Tech Connect, for example, is an event organised by Cornwall’s Tech Community, Software Cornwall and Goonhilly Earth Station, on the 31st May. More than 100 people are set to attend – double that of the last event – to 120 attendees, to celebrate the growth of the tech sector in Cornwall, discuss future opportunities within the region and review its role in the UK Tech Nation Report. Alongside the increasing number of ‘nomads’ who call Cornwall their home, many of the growing list of high growth creative technology businesses will also be attending in some form, alongside more established companies like Hertzian which, only last week, was selected by the government as one of the top 5 trailblazing AI companies in the UK.

If you’d like to hear from some of the most exciting companies in the region or catch up with us on the business opportunities in Cornwall, please drop us a note as we’d love to hear from you.


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