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Remote work vs. work from home are common words these days. Although the phrases remote working and working from home existed long before, the recent global pandemic strongly affected this type of work. “Working remotely” and “working from home” have become more popular in professional conversations. However, the phrases remote work vs. work from home are often misused. Many people still use them interchangeably without realizing that they’re, in fact, different in some aspects.
Working from home is a temporary situation, where people take some days off from the office to continue their daily tasks from the comfort of their homes. However, working remotely is a way of working that doesn’t occur in a traditional office and in specific time durations.
Read on as we disect the differences between the terms remote work and work from home along with the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
Working From Home Explained
Working from home is a temporary situation that represents a change from your normal routine and regular place of work. A person who works from home from time to time has a desk, cubicle, or room in an office space but can spend days at home doing the same tasks for personal or professional reasons.
Management structures and the chain-of-command are already evident and established when employees work from home. Employees will still keep in touch and have the framework and structure of their office. Both employers and employees realize that the benefits of telecommuting are present with working from home.
However, there’ll be no assessment or attention paid to their home working environment, and they have the freedom to design their workspace as they please. They could have a home office setup or work from the bedroom or the kitchen while cooking lunch!
Take a look at some examples to get a better grasp of the working from the home concept:
- You’re feeling unwell, so you decide to work from your bed today instead of taking a day off.
- You don’t have any face-to-face meetings today, so you decide to work from home.
- You need a change of scenery or a break from the interruption of coworkers to be more focused on work, so you decide to stay home for a couple of days.
- You have caretaking responsibilities over your children, seniors, etc., and you work some days from home to look after them.
Remote Working Explained
Working remotely means working from anywhere other than the company office. Instead of going to work every day and interacting with coworkers face-to-face, remote workers can set up their desks anywhere and use different digital tools to communicate with the team and complete projects. You can even work a contract-to-hire job remotely.
They can work from their homes, co-working spaces, cafes, or even while traveling. Remote working bears a slight resemblance to a traditional workplace, but it’s more flexible than working a 9-5 office shift, depending on your company’s laws.
Different companies might have different approaches towards their remote workers. Some want their employees to be partly remote, while others allow them to be fully remote. Partly remote employees have to come into work at least a couple of times a month. Amaon is a great example of this as you can work at home for Amzon in both settings.
However, fully remote employees can work from anywhere in the world; they might never even see their boss and coworkers.
Some companies require their remote workers to work during specific hours and shifts, while others are more flexible and allow their employees the freedom to work how and when it best fits into their lives.
Remote Work vs. Work From Home: Employee’s View
Let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of remote work and working from home from an employee’s viewpoint. If you’re looking for a unique job that falls under any of the two categories, you’ll be able to compare the two more closely and decide more easily.
Work From Home
- There’s less commute. The most obvious benefit of staying home for a day or two is that you won’t have to commute to your office, saving time and money. Many people don’t even have to get out of their pajamas!
- Your schedule is more flexible. Although some people still have to follow the office hours, many employees are free to work when they’re most productive when they stay at home for a day and manage their schedules on their own.
- It boosts productivity. Changing your work environment from time to time can always increase your productivity. As mentioned, flexible working times will also boost productivity because there are so many ways to manage a team remotely preserving productivity. Moreover, fewer distractions from noisy offices and being more focused will also help with productivity.
- You’re less stressed. Working in an office space often comes with its own stressful situations, such as deadlines, toxic coworkers, or ungrateful bosses. Staying at home will reduce your stress level to an extent, and you can stop your work and go for a walk whenever you’re overwhelmed.
- You can better manage your household. When you stay home for the day, you’ll be able to put the extra time you have to good use and run some errands or spend more time with your family members.
- You can get lonely. Although it shouldn’t last longer than a couple of days, working from home can become lonely for some people. If you work all day while alone at home, you may end up feeling isolated.
- Work/life balance can be harder to achieve. If you have a family staying at home during office hours, they might distract you or make it hard to attend a meeting. It’s usually hard for family members to understand you’re working when you’re at home.
- Managing your work and time can be hard. You’ll need self-discipline and motivation to manage your work while at home. It’s hard for some people to manage their time if their boss isn’t around watching them all the time. On the other hand, some people get so caught up with work that they forget about having a break.
- You can lose some living space. You might have to temporarily sacrifice one of your rooms for an office, which may be problematic if your living space is already tight.
- You have more freedom and work/life balance. When working remotely, you can create your own work environment and establish a space that works best for you. Also, you can plan a timeline for yourself, spend more time doing what you enjoy, and spend time with your family, creating a well-balanced personal life. It’s also possible for you to travel and work from any spot in the world.
- You become more focused. Working from where you’re more comfortable gives you the benefit of a more focused time every day without distractions. More focus brings more productivity, as well.
- You have a healthier lifestyle. Office employees usually can’t pay much attention to their health. When you work remotely, you can get balanced meals and put some time aside for exercise.
- You have fewer expenses. Working remotely cuts down on traveling expenses completely. You won’t have to worry about lunch, parking tickets, gas, or public transit anymore.
- There can be some communication gap. Remote teams can face issues with collaborations and communications if there’s no proper management plan. The efficiency of contacting your coworkers depends on the company’s strategy for retaining good connections between coworkers.
- There’s a lack of social interactions and connections. Remote working can become lonely due to no social interactions between teammates, especially for full-time remote workers. Face-to-face communications can strengthen relationships and build connections. However, many companies approach team-building ideas to solve this issue, including conference calls, hosting online game nights, or social media interaction.
- There can be management issues. As a remote worker, you’ll have to work on your time management abilities because you won’t have bosses or coworkers around to keep you focused. You can get help from personal time and work management apps to keep you on track.
- You can lose motivation. Some people may lack motivation and even procrastinate when working remotely and away from supervisors. You’ll need to learn to be your own boss!
Remote Work vs. Work From Home: Employer’s View
If you’re an employer trying to decide between remote work and working from home approaches for your employees, you may come across different determining factors.
Here’s a list of what you should consider when facing this decision:
Whether your employees work from home now and then or work remotely full-time, managing them would be more challenging than managing an office-based team. Fully remote workers are harder to manage than partly remote workers and those who work from home from time to time, but the challenges are still there.
You’ll need to work on your management skills and use the right tools to measure output and outcomes.
Necessary Hardware and Software
Since working from home is a temporary situation, the employees will eventually return to the office after a couple of days. This way, they can share their work in person. However, remote workers need another way to access the company’s data and deliver their work.
To ensure your team is doing their jobs efficiently and on time and collaborating and sharing their work without issues, you’ll need to provide them with the necessary hardware and software.
For the hardware, you’ll have to make sure they have decent laptops, webcams, internet connections, and whatever is necessary for their job.
As for the software, investing in management cloud-based programs will make your company more organized, speed up the work, and make your job easier as the manager. You’ll have to teach your employees how to use these tools, as well.
Here are some examples of the best apps for remote teams that bring all the work in one place:
Lack of communication from the team can result in them getting frustrated, feeling lonely, and losing motivation. That’s more of an issue with remote workers. However, there are ways to get around it.
Communication is one of the skills you need to be a freelancer whether remote work vs. work from home. You need to schedule regular video calls and conference meetings with your employees through applications such as Skype or Zoom and keep everyone informed about the work and the company.
Use social media to be connected to your employees and have them connect, as well. Just because you’re not at the same place doesn’t mean you can’t be close.
When your team is working away from the office, there’s no way you can monitor how they’re working and how productive they are. However, you can provide them with clear goals to achieve and set proper expectations. Monitor their work and give them feedback regularly.
Security can become a significant concern with remote teams, primarily when the employees work outside of a secured network. However, there are security measures you can take to decrease the risks.
- Ensure all their devices are updated with the latest security packages and software applications.
- Use reliable cloud-based applications suits to ensure all the company data stays in one place and is regularly backed up.
- Implement multi-factor authentication and strong passwords for using the programs. Put together a strong IT team and have them monitor your security and inform you of any cyber security issues.
How To Increase Productivity When Working Away From the Office
Many of these issues below are important if you are wondering can you survive as a freelancer working remotely? When you decide to work away from the office, there are a few things to consider:
- How can I stay focused?
- How can I stay productive and motivated?
- How should I balance my work and personal life?
- Where should I work?
Let’s set your mind at ease. Here are some tips on how you can increase your productivity when working away from the office.
Get Ready for Your Work Day
Although staying in pajamas all day seems comfortable and easy, it can help you stay motivated and productive if you dress up for your working days. It might be okay to stay in your pajamas if you stay home for a day, but full-time remote workers won’t benefit from wearing casual clothes for days straight.
That doesn’t necessarily mean dressing as formally as you would for work. Just perform the act of changing clothes to let your brain know that work has started!
Create a Comfortable Workspace
An office is designed to keep you focused and productive, and recreating a workspace as close to an office as possible will serve you best.
You can choose to work at a café, a co-working space, or home. If you’re at home, put aside an extra room for your work or dedicate a corner of your room to work with a desk. It should be comfortable and far from distractions.
Install Quality Hardware
Good technology is the ultimate tool for those who work remotely. If you’re dealing with old laptops or hardware, low-quality webcams, and poor internet connections, you’re bound to spend more unnecessary time, get frustrated, and lose patience with the slow speed.
Be sure to install a competent Wi-Fi router, a decent PC setup, and keep everything updated for the best results.
Stay Organized and Manage Your Time
Adopting a suitable organizing system is highly important when working away from the office, especially for full-time remote workers. Some people benefit from maintaining consistent working hours mimicking an office, and some prefer to segment their working hours throughout the day.
Whichever you choose, it’s essential to create a schedule and stick to it. For instance, you can write a to-do list in a notebook or app and follow the steps accordingly.
Creating a to-do list will help keep track of how you spend every hour and understand when you’re more productive when you’re wasting your precious time. This way, you’ll be able to dedicate your precise, productive hours to more critical tasks.
Also, remember that being a workaholic is good, but only within working hours. Force yourself to shut the laptop as soon as the working hours you set for yourself are up. Don’t overdo it!
Having your work-time get tangled with your breaks when you’re working from home isn’t what you want. Taking regular breaks is the best way to stay productive because it allows your brain to refocus and relax.
Committing to smaller but more regular work intervals will allow you to focus and be more productive. Monitor yourself and see how long you can work before getting distracted. Then set precise times for breaks between the work intervals and add the time and duration of your breaks to your planner.
Walk away from your workspace when it’s time for a break, and take a stroll on the lawn, go for a walk to get some fresh air, check on family members, and do what puts your mind at rest.
Connect With Your Coworkers
The hardest part of working away from an office is the loneliness and lack of social interaction.
Remember to take any chance to interact with the team and check in with coworkers. Use face-timing applications for regular video calls and conference calls and try to connect with your team.
If you feel isolated at home, you can try working in a café or a co-working space and surround yourself with people to feel less lonely.
Set a Proper Sleep Schedule
Maintain a proper sleep schedule to keep your head clear and your body healthy. Get at least six hours of sleep because sleep deprivation leads to a loss of concentration.
Besides working on your sleep schedule, meditation can also help strengthen focus, improve self-awareness, and reduce stress levels. You can meditate for 5–10 hours before you start working and after you’re finished for the best results.
Regular exercising can help you be proactive and increase your performance at work. Increasing the blood flow to your mind and heightening your endorphin levels will help sharpen your mind for work and keep you feeling happy and stress-free.
Make Ground Rules for Family Members
The best way to avoid hurdles caused by family members is to have an open conversation with them. Explain the expectations of the work-from-home culture. Set clear rules for the kids, parents, and spouses by telling them what they should and shouldn’t do.
Additional Resources For People Who Want To Try Remote Work
If you are not ready to quit your day job but want to make some extra cash or give freelancing a try, joining a remote work marketplace is the perfect place to get started. We’ve included some examples below:
Task Rabbit: Find jobs you can complete in your own city.
Flexjobs: Browse freelance and part-time telecommuting job opportunities. You can search by industry and other criteria such as desired hourly rate.
Trash Pickup Jobs: If you’re willing to haul off someone’s waste for them, this might be the right fit.
Jobbatical: People seeking temporary gigs abroad are likely to find what they’re looking for here.
Luxeed: This is another site that brings together clients who want expertise with professionals who have good experience under their belt. Look at listings on CoTAs (Certified to Apply) professionals.
We Work Remotely: This is a job board from the company behind WeWork, an ideal place for remote workers because of their 24/7 coworking spaces.
RemoteOk: A simple, clean interface with an extensive list of jobs makes it easy to use this site. The community section lets you find new places to work remotely and also includes valuable articles on starting a freelance business. RemoteOk has partnered with several remote companies that offer employment opportunities as well.
Working Nomads: Connects freelancers who need locations with businesses looking for talent across all types of fields, including marketing, web development, design, and more. This site partners exclusively with high-growth digital nomad organizations around the world, which helps to keep you working in an environment that is known for its innovation and entrepreneurship.
Are virtual and remote jobs the same?
If you’re interested in finding a job working from home, it might be best to look for remote jobs instead. Though they may both describe work that doesn’t require you to go into an office, virtual positions are generally more focused on the technology side of things. They involve less direct contact with your co-workers and employer than remote jobs do.
What are the main differences between working from home and telecommuting?
Telecommuting means working off-site without going into an office but still maintaining some level of daily interaction through phone or video chat, email, or instant messaging. In contrast, work from home is when you do your job or tasks in your own house rather than at a workplace. This could be because you might live in an area with no jobs in your field, or you often prefer to stay close to home, but it has its benefits.
What is the difference between working from home and being self-employed?
It can be difficult for some people to imagine doing any job without showing up at an office somewhere. But if this describes you, know that remote work is more common than you think.
Fortune Magazine estimates that 35% of US workers have already taken on some form of telecommuting arrangement, with 44% saying they would like to try it someday. On the other hand, self-employment is when someone works independently as a small business owner, freelancer, or sole proprietor instead of having an employer who pays them wages or salary. Following a process to transition to working for yourself can help ease the burden.
What are the benefits of working from home?
There are several benefits to having a work-at-home job, including:
- More flexibility in your schedule
- Minimal distractions since you’re not at an office
- Consistency since there’s no commute.
These can be excellent reasons for parents to try telecommuting because they can work anywhere and whenever it fits into their family obligations.
What are the main difference between remote workers and virtual assistants?
Virtual assistants typically focus on administrative tasks such as managing calendars, coordinating travel arrangements, or scheduling meetings for their employers. Remote workers perform contracted work off-site with little to zero face-to-face contact with their employer.
When it comes to working away from an office, it’s not really about picking one option between working from home and working remotely. It’s about customizing your work and blending the two options into an overall package that fits your specific needs as an employee or an employer. Remember that communication is key in these situations.