October 07, 2022 by Andrea Rajic
Table of contents
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, let’s break down some facts about remote work:
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.
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.
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 online meetings, and celebrating employee birthdays.
As with any other advance in the workplace, working remotely has its own set of benefits and challenges. Let’s break them down!
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.