As the year is coming to a close, I’m thinking about how much my life has changed in the past 12 months. I almost can’t believe it. Just a year ago I was working a “prestigious” job as a finance consultant for the largest consultancy firm in the world: Deloitte. A job that many graduates dream of. But to tell you the truth, I was miserable. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my coworkers and I’m still very grateful for the opportunities that were given to me, and being able to learn from very smart people. However, my day-to-day activities were not that glamorous at all and the long work hours were getting the best of me. On top of that, I dreaded being in the same dull office every day for 10+ hours, and living the work-eat-sleep-repeat cycle.
In March, after having just returned to my home in Amsterdam from a four-month project in Toronto, I met up with my good friend Amy. She was working for Unilever at that time and was feeling the same sense of unfulfillment as I was. We talked for hours about how there must be a different way to work. A way that is more flexible, allows for more freedom, and that lets you tap into your passions. Amy and I had met in our first year of university and immediately bonded over our shared passion for travel. Throughout our studies we had always been very ambitious and it was logical for us to want to start working for the big firms and dream of becoming a CEO one day. Nevertheless, we loved traveling just as much, and were always off to another country. Now here we were—we had achieved our ‘great’ corporate jobs, but didn’t travel much anymore. We were completely disillusioned.
Starting a New Journey
I can’t even remember how we both found out about the remote work movement, but all of a sudden it felt like there was no other way for us. We met up a couple more times and talked about what kind of work we could be doing on the road and how we could help others travel too. That’s when we came up with The Remote Trip: our startup that brings together a community of 30 (max) remote workers to live, work, and travel the world together for 1, 3 or 6 months, living in a new country each month. The trips start from February 2017 onwards and we’ll be visiting Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Panama, Curacao, and Colombia. During the trip we arrange accommodation, flights, workspaces, and several activities.
Amy quit her job first in May, as her contract was ending anyway. She then booked a one way ticket to Chiang Mai: a ‘digital nomad hub’ where she could do some research on the remote lifestyle and completely focus on building our website. I personally needed a little longer in my job to create a solid foundation for me to be able to live for a couple of months without an income. I was working for Deloitte throughout the day, and spending all my free time in the evenings and on the weekends on building The Remote Trip. In September I finally quit my job and I took a one way flight to Costa Rica, which is my favourite destination to date, to work from there.
Within a time frame of just 9 months after having decided I wanted a different life, I had quit my job, given up my house and my car, and had moved to the other side of the world to work on a startup with my good friend who was 13 hours time difference away. I had never been happier!
Friends and family, on the other hand, observed my move with a high degree of skepticism. They are sure that it’s just a phase and they think I’m foolish for taking such a big “risk”. While I think what they are doing is the biggest risk: building your life around work and being unhappy, instead of building work around the life you want. Many people complain about their job, but they never do anything about it.
I truly believe that remote work and flexible work is the future. The new generation of millennials understands much better that people are happier when they can decide when and where they work. Happier employees are more motivated and more productive. We need to shift the focus from a traditional workforce in which present=productive, towards a new workforce where your performance is evaluated based on your results and your achievements. If I can finish a report in 4 hours, why the heck should I stay in the office for 8?!
The Remote Trip Vision
Our vision with The Remote Trip is to change the way people work. We want to show people that you can indeed work from a beach and still be productive. Or work from home so you can be close to your family. Whatever works for you.
Many people still think this lifestyle is a hoax and that it’s impossible. I know it’s not: the only thing you need to change is how you look at your job and tasks. Nowadays, we don’t have to be in the office anymore to be productive, meetings can be held over Skype, and many activities can be performed from afar.
The only downside to working remote is that it can be quite lonely. The social aspect of having an office and ‘watercooler’ conversations can get lost when you’re always traveling or working by yourself. That’s why The Remote Trip gathers a community that functions as an office, where other remote workers are your colleagues to talk to, bounce ideas off and network with. We take care of all the hassle of traveling, so you can just focus on work.
Right now, I work every day, just like I did in my corporate job. The only difference is that I’m happier and feel more fulfilled than ever. If you’ve been thinking about working remote, I hope in 2017 you will find the courage to take the jump. It might be difficult at first, but you’ll never want to go back to the traditional office afterwards!
photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com