If you’ve never heard of the “four-hour work week,” you’ve likely been living a life void of social media for the past five years. The concept, which is encapsulated in a New York Times best-selling book by author Timothy Ferriss, stems from the idea that in the multimedia age no one should have to report to the nine-to-five jobs of old. People who toss their traditional career paths to the side for seemingly riskier business ventures — say traveling the world as a blogger or starting their own internet company — tend to be happier and more satisfied with their lives.
Ferriss: “Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows. Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”
For those who do choose the more fulfilling yet uncertain path, the benefits of working from home abound. A 2015 article published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest reviewed research on the impact of telecommuting on employees and the companies they worked for. Researchers found that employees who worked from home expressed more job satisfaction, a greater sense of commitment to their companies, and less work-related stress and exhaustion.
Of course, telecommuting programs that were structured produced the best results, giving employees clear start and finish times and outlining the circumstances under which telecommuting would be allowed. In many cases, just having the option to work from home led to workers feeling more satisfied in their jobs.
It was on this premise that YonderWork, a community experience for remote workers, was established in January of this year. The company allows remote workers to do two-month stints in locations around the world where they can tour locations, learn new skills, and make money while working remotely. YonderWork co-founder Nick Messina says he started the company after deciding that his job at a federal consulting firm in Washington, D.C. left little room for things like consistent exercise, but did contribute to extreme bouts of stress and insomnia.
“My wife and I both have the travel bug and had been talking about taking some extended time off to travel the world before settling down and starting a family,” Messina told The Culture Trip. “Originally, the plan was to to take a year off work but we started learning more about remote work and decided that we didn’t need to make a choice between our careers and a lifestyle that allowed us to travel.”
The initial selling points for YonderWork and companies like it are simple: employees who work remotely are more productive (it’s scientifically-proven), companies who recruit remote workers can work with the most qualified candidates no matter where they are in the world, and companies can save money on office space and supplies. But the individual benefits of a more flexible work life go far beyond what most companies can even conceive, as Messina learned firsthand. Being a part of the “rat race” takes a toll on your health, whether you know it or not.
“Mentally, I feel 110 percent,” Messina told us. “I am able to work when I’m most productive, take time to exercise and eat healthy, and get a full 8-hours to sleep […] The constant stimulation of new cultures and surroundings has done wonders for my happiness and mental state.”
So, if you’re thinking about ditching the monotony of your current job, it may be worth the risk. Messina had this to say to anyone who feels unfulfilled in their nine-to-fives.
“People often forget they are the masters of their own destiny,” he said. “If you are really not happy with your job or your lifestyle, then you have to create the positive change you seek. It’s probably not going to happen on its own, and it’s not going to happen overnight, but the first step is to acknowledge the source of your unhappiness. Then create a strategy for making that change and begin implementing it one step at a time.”