October 07, 2022 by Andrea Rajic

Remote Work vs. Work From Home: All You Need To Know

Remote Work vs. Work From Home: All You Need To Know

Table of contents


    What does working remotely mean


    Work from home vs remote work


    What is remote work?


    Can you work remotely but not work from home?


    Digital nomads


    Telework and telecommuting


    Facts about remote work


    The pros and cons for employers

Employee Experience

Since working from home became a reality for the vast majority of knowledge workers almost three years ago, we’ve measured its impact, studied productivity levels, and predicted what the future of work would be like.

During all this time, criticism arose of the stress and isolation working from home brings. In time, this became the criticism of remote work in general, making it seem as if WFH and remote work are the same.

It turns out — they’re not. Read on and find out all the subtle differences between working from home and working remotely:

What does working remotely mean

Working from home often has the context of a temporary work arrangement, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. In these circumstances, where offices and all other communal spaces were unsafe, working from home was the only option.

Working from home is also one of the benefits offered to office-based workers periodically — e.g., giving them a set number of days to work from home per month.

Work from home vs remote work

You can work from home full-time or part-time, depending on your job and company policy. People who work from home most of the time are usually called remote workers. More and more remote jobs emerge every day worldwide as companies realize they don’t need people to be in a traditional office space. It’s important to emphasize that working from home full time (or working remotely) is a choice in normal, non-pandemic circumstances and a necessity in times of crisis.

The stress many of us went through while working from home was mandatory is not what remote work looks like in regular times. Without the pressure of kids not going to school and the economy being in lockdown, remote work is the perfect solution for those seeking flexibility and purpose in their work.

What is remote work?

Remote work is a work style that does not presume the worker’s presence in a physical office. In other words, remote professionals work from wherever they deem fit. Companies can hire remotely in their local community, their country, and all over the world.

Remote work has been rising in the past several years, only to be accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Remote work has been made possible by advances in technology and perspective shifts in human resources and management. Remote companies rely heavily on written communication, documentation, procedures for supporting their teams, and a result-driven approach.

The most significant shift remote work has brought to employers’ and employees’ relationships is output. Instead of measuring the hours each employee spent in a chair, managers measure the tasks and KPIs set for that employee.

Can you work remotely but not work from home?

As we mentioned above, remote workers don’t have a designated office space. They can work from their living room if they feel productive there, but they can also pick up their laptop and move to a local cafe, an inspiring workspace in their neighborhood, or travel while working.

An important aspect of remote work is flexibility, which covers each employee's location, work hours, and style. Remote employees can stop by the office whenever they need to sit down with their managers or organize a team meeting in a coworking space or coffee shop. The basic premise of remote work is that employees can choose their work environment as long as their job is done.

Coworking spaces

Remote workers often choose not to work at home, at least not all the time. Some of them lack the space for a separate home office, while others enjoy a change of scenery a couple of times a week.

This is where flexible workspaces come in handy — with a daily pass or a monthly subscription, remote teams can enjoy office perks, work in productive environments, and meet their team members face-to-face when they need to. The spaces are inspiring and often uniquely designed, with safety and cleanliness in mind. On top of that, working from a neighborhood workspace means you’re still close to home without the need to commute.

Digital nomads

When someone mentioned remote work before 2020, most people imagined someone with a laptop lounging on a tropical beach. These workers exist, and they’re called digital nomads. They use their location independence to travel the world while working, often switching between different countries. Digital nomads make it a lifestyle to be on the move and rarely settle in the same place for more extended periods, as the only thing they need for work is an internet connection.

However, digital nomads are a minority in the world of remote employees. Most people like having a fixed location and a home to go back to or work from. While remote employees probably travel more than office-based workers, the nomad lifestyle doesn’t work for many people, especially those with families and children. The digital nomad lifestyle is gaining traction, and local communities worldwide are trying to attract digital nomads by offering housing, infrastructure, and special remote work visas.

Telework and telecommuting

Remote work is sometimes also called telework or telecommuting. The phrase was coined in the 1970s to explain a style of work where employees don’t work from an office environment. But until recently, telecommuting was reserved for a narrow number of roles and professions, whereas remote work is a phenomenon that is quickly expanding to cover most knowledge workers worldwide.

Facts about remote work

Finally, let’s break down some facts about remote work:

Remote work is for driven, self-motivated professionals

Numerous studies have shown the productivity levels of remote workers to be high. However, remote workers also exhibit higher self-motivation, responsibility, and accountability degrees. These traits make it much less likely for them to play Solitaire during work hours than their office counterparts.

Remote employees need to be proactive about work-life balance

Resisting the temptation to always be available is a challenge for remote workers. Many companies realized this challenge quickly and put processes in place to ensure their employees have time for themselves, their personal life, family members, and friends, as well as for fitness and well-being.

Remote workers can bond with their teams

Building team cohesion and a sense of belonging don’t come instantly in remote companies. Because of the physical distance and difference in time zones, distributed teams and companies act deliberately to encourage and promote unity. There are many ways to promote team-building in remote companies, such as organizing offsite team retreats or bonding exercises, scheduling casual virtual meetings, and celebrating employee birthdays.

The pros and cons for employers

As with any other advance in the workplace, working remotely has its own set of benefits and challenges. Let’s break them down!

Benefits of remote work for companies

  1. Productivity: The concerns some employers used to have about low productivity and remote workers watching Netflix in their pajamas at home are, as we now know, unfounded. In fact, remote employees have shown to be more productive, even more so if their employees provide resources on how to work from home.
  2. Flexible work schedules and employee happiness: Employees with flexible schedules are often able to organize their days better and accommodate school runs, lunch prep, and workouts into their day. This increases their work-life balance and happiness at work, making them more loyal and less likely to switch jobs.
  3. Driving real estate costs down: One of the primary incentives for employers to switch to a remote work model is saving money on real estate. The new workplace strategy enables companies to scale their footprint as they grow and save money on long-term leases. Additionally, the office setting for remote workers is different, as in-person encounters now need to be purposeful and intentional instead of just having workstations and desks for workers.

Challenges of remote work for employers

  1. Sometimes it’s hard to connect with co workers: Unlike full-time office workers, remote employees need to be intentional about connection. As they don’t meet in person every day, remote workers and their employers need to schedule time for connections, team bonding, and building trust in teams.
  2. A learning curve: Remote work is a skill in and of itself. Employees who are new to working remotely need to learn about communication, oversharing, and the importance of documentation, which leaves employers in charge of facilitating the learning process.
  3. Increased workload for People teams: Remote work can seem like an administrative nightmare for HR and People teams, as they often struggle to provide workspaces, accommodate employees, and provide a good employee experience to workers across locations.

Foster connections in your remote team

Cater to employees’ needs and give them flexibility without burdening your workload. Provide workspaces, set budgets and policies, and track usage and trends to stay in the loop.

Written By

Andrea Rajic


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