Finding a Job

Q&A: What Is Remote Work?

February 25, 2020

Modern technology makes it possible to work in unconventional ways, and the job market has evolved dramatically because of this. Many companies notice the benefits of remote-based work, and the number of flexible jobs may continue to steadily increase. In this article, you will learn what remote work is and how to find it, what types exist, and the advantages and disadvantages of remote work for employees and employers.

What is remote work?

Remote work is work done outside of a traditional office environment, also referred to as working from home or telecommuting. The concept of remote work is that employees can successfully execute projects and daily tasks without needing to commute to an office each day. Different levels of remote employment opportunities exist, but each type provides the benefit of flexibility in an employee's professional and personal life.

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Types of remote work

Telecommuting takes the following forms:

  • Fully remote employee
  • Flexible job
  • Freelancer

Fully remote employee

Fully remote employees work full-time, from their remote locations, for a company that has a traditional office. They have a transparent wage rate or salary and the jobs are usually very career-oriented with paths for growth. The company itself will likely have many remote workers with a structure that supports remote employment. This helps maintain high levels of communication and productivity. Fully remote employees also receive the same benefits and pay as on-site employees. Employees can normally live anywhere in the country, sometimes anywhere in the world. Here are some popular careers that can be done fully remotely:

  • Digital marketing
  • Copywriting and copyediting
  • Web or graphic design
  • Translation
  • Customer service management
  • Software development
  • Social media management
  • Online teaching
  • Accounting
  • Virtual assistance

Related: Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well

Flexible job

This type of remote job provides some flexibility with schedule, location or both. Normally, a flexible job is a regular in-office position that offers telecommuting opportunities at least once a week. Sometimes organizations allow current in-office employees to transition to a flexible position based on their length of time employed, job success and if their job tasks can be performed remotely.

Some flexible jobs work in the opposite way, allowing employees to work remotely most of the time, but commute to in-person meetings at the office weekly. In this case, employees usually must live within the city where the office is located.

Here are fields that commonly offer flexible jobs:

  • Computer and IT
  • Sales and marketing
  • Healthcare
  • Software development
  • Project management
  • Account management
  • Accounting and finance
  • Education and training
  • Customer service

Related: 11 Online Jobs For Work Flexibility

Freelancer

A freelancer is a remote entrepreneur who often completes side projects and smaller-scale work. Many freelancers do work in addition to a normal full-time or part-time day job. Some freelancers seek to build their side business into their full-time job. Others choose to freelance on the side as a passion project or to make additional money. Fields where freelance work is most common include:

  • Digital marketing
  • Social media management
  • Consulting
  • Design services
  • Coding
  • Writing and editing

Related: 8 Ways You Can Earn Extra Money From Home

Advantages of remote work

The reason remote work opportunities are so desirable now is because of their many benefits for both employees and employers. Here are the main advantages:

For employees

  • Flexible lifestyle: The most common reason people seek a remote job is the lifestyle flexibility it provides. Fully remote employees often get to set their own schedule around general business hours, while freelancers can work whenever they want to. For parents, people with side businesses or those working on their higher education, remote jobs offer more work-life balance to focus extra time on other important tasks in their lives.
  • Better health: Remote employees tend to be less stressed and more enthusiastic about their work than their in-office counterparts. This style of work allows people to work in comfortable environments and eliminates the chaos and time-waste of morning and evening commutes. Working outside the office also leads to an increase in healthy eating and exercise. Happier, healthier employees produce better work and feel more dedicated to their job.
  • Renewed passion: Remote employees often feel more motivated and inspired to complete work outside of the office. They can remove environmental distractions and seek work areas that are as quiet and isolating as they need to be the most productive. The ability to work from anywhere also provides a sense of reward, making employees more excited to work toward and surpass goals.

For employers

  • Higher productivity: Employers like remote work due to its increase in productivity. Employees give more effort, completing their work more efficiently with better outcomes.
  • Cost savings: For employers that hire a completely or even partially remote team, overhead is cut from the reduction in costs of office furniture, equipment, rent and office supplies.
  • Engaged employees: Beyond the more efficient work and cost savings, the increase in engagement from remote employees leads to higher employee retention. The longer employees stay, the more connected and loyal the entire team will be. A team that works well together helps a company grow faster.

Disadvantages of remote work

Like all working conditions, remote work comes with some challenges. Here are the most common ones and some tips to overcome them:

For employees

  • Isolation: One disadvantage of working away from a team is feeling alone. Moving from a busy office environment to the solitude of your own home might make your day feel monotonous. Working from coffee shops or co-working spaces is a great way to feel more sociable.
  • Requires self-motivation: Working away from the office requires a self-starting attitude, since no one is around to check on you. If you find yourself slowing down working from home, try a new environment to minimize distractions.
  • Non-immediate access to team: Because remote work has a flexible schedule, the people you need to contact may not always be available. Sometimes you might realize you have an important question, but the person you need to ask has already signed off from the company chat for the day. Usually there is a second go-to person for these situations, and planning tasks ahead of time can help cut down on unexpected needs.

For employers

  • Potential increase in distractions: While distractions happen in the office too, it's possible that remote employees will experience more. Working from home comes with its own set of interruptions depending on the employee's home life, such as kids, spouses, pets and the TV.
  • Lack of community: Working together in the same space provides community and the opportunity to connect more with each other. Because remote work tends to be isolating, there may be a lack of bonding. Many remote companies utilize teleconferencing, online chat and other tools to maintain an engaging community.
  • Less reliability or accountability: With less supervision, an employee's reliability and accountability for work may not be as high as an in-office position. Utilizing weekly performance measures and incentives can help keep employees on track and motivated to work hard.

How to find remote work

Finding a remote career today is easy. Here are some simple ways to find your next remote job opportunity:

1. Search remote-specific job boards

Many job search websites exist now that only post remote and flexible jobs. You can search by:

  • job category
  • Job type
  • Career level
  • Work schedule such as part-time or full-time
  • Remote work level (full-time, flexible, freelance)

2. Search general job boards for remote opportunities

On sites like Indeed.com, use keywords like "work from home," "remote," "at home," "telecommute" and other similar phrases to find remote and flexible jobs. Some job boards may also have special search functions built in.

3. Ask your current employer

If you would like to inquire about some flexibility in your current position, ask your manager if any possibilities for telecommuting exist. Even once a week can help better your work-life balance. If it works out well, you may be able to telecommute more often, or even turn your job into a fully remote position.