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Remote Work vs Work From Home (Which Is Right for You?)

Published
April 5, 2024
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6
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Last updated
April 12, 2024
Anika Jahin
Remote Work vs Work From Home (Which Is Right for You?)
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Going to the beach to type on your laptop or attending virtual conferences in your pyjama pants is now more common than we could have ever anticipated.

In the past few years, remote work has exploded in popularity. Faced with technological advancements and the global pandemic, companies are now increasingly embracing remote work arrangements. But with this rise in flexibility comes a need for clear definitions.

While "work from home" is a popular option, it's just a subset of the broader remote work category. So, what exactly is the key distinction between these two seemingly similar terms? The answer lies in flexibility and location.

This blog post will serve as a guide to help you differentiate between remote work and work from home.

We'll delve into the specific details of each approach, explore the benefits and drawbacks, and equip you with the knowledge to determine which option best aligns with your work style and personal preferences.

What Is Remote Work?

Remote work encompasses a work style where employees can perform their duties and responsibilities from any location with an internet connection. This eliminates the need for a daily commute to a physical office setting.

Remote workers leverage technology like video conferencing tools, project management software, and communication platforms to collaborate with colleagues and complete tasks.

Key Characteristics of Remote Work

  • Location Independence: Remote work grants flexibility in choosing a work environment. This could be a home office, a co-working space, a coffee shop, or even a beachside hammock (with a good Wi-Fi connection, of course!). The key distinction is that the work environment is not predetermined by the employer; remote workers have the autonomy to choose a setting that optimizes their productivity and well-being.
  • Schedule Flexibility (Potential): While some remote work arrangements may involve set work hours aligned with a traditional office schedule, others offer more flexibility to structure the workday around personal commitments and peak productivity times.
  • Technology Reliance: Effective remote work hinges on reliable technology. Remote workers depend on a stable internet connection, collaboration tools, and potentially company-issued equipment to perform their jobs effectively. Options like online training modules, video conferencing platforms for remote coaching sessions, and AI-powered note-taking tools like Wudpecker are heavily utilized and benefitted from.

Types of Remote Work Arrangements

  • Fully Remote: Employees work exclusively from a remote location and have no obligation to visit a physical office.
  • Partially Remote: Employees split their workweek between a remote location and a company office, typically requiring them to be physically present in the office a certain number of days per month.
  • Freelancing: Self-employed individuals who contract their skills and expertise to various clients remotely.

Example of Remote Work

Imagine a software developer who lives in a mountain town. This developer works for a company located across the country.

Every day, the developer logs in to their work computer from their home office and utilizes various online tools to collaborate with their team members, review code, and contribute to ongoing projects. Despite the geographical distance, this developer is vital to their remote team.

What Is Work From Home?

Work from home (WFH) is a specific type of remote work arrangement where employees perform their job duties from their personal residence.

While WFH offers a welcome change of scenery compared to a traditional office setting, it typically comes with a more structured work schedule and environment than broader remote work options.

Essentially, work from home can be seen as a subset of remote work with a focus on location. Both involve working outside of a physical office, but WFH offers less geographic flexibility.

Key Characteristics of Work From Home

  • Location: Work from home implies working from a designated workspace within your personal residence. This could be a dedicated home office, a spare bedroom, or even the kitchen table (although long-term work from a non-ergonomic environment can negatively impact productivity).
  • Schedule: While some WFH arrangements may offer schedule flexibility, it's generally less common compared to broader remote work options. Many WFH positions require adhering to specific work hours that align with a traditional office schedule. This can be beneficial for those who thrive on routine and clear boundaries between work and personal life.

Types of Work From Home Arrangements

There are two main types of work from home arrangements:

  • Full-Time WFH: This arrangement involves working exclusively from home, with no regular requirement to report to a physical office.
  • Hybrid Work: This increasingly popular model combines WFH days with designated office days. The specific split (e.g., 2 days WFH, 3 days in office) varies depending on the company and job role.

Example of Work From Home

Imagine a customer service representative who typically works from a dedicated home office set up in a spare bedroom. This representative utilizes a company-issued computer and phone to answer customer inquiries throughout the workday.

While the representative enjoys the convenience of not commuting, their work environment and schedule are more structured compared to someone with a fully remote position.

Remote Work vs Work From Home

While both remote work and work from home (WFH) offer flexibility compared to a traditional office setting, there are some key distinctions between the two.

Here's a breakdown to help you understand the nuances:

(1) Location

  • Remote work: Location independent. Remote workers can choose to work from a home office, co-working space, coffee shop, or even a tropical island (as long as there's Wi-Fi!). The emphasis is on having the freedom to choose a work environment that suits them.
  • Work from home (WFH): Restricted to your home. While WFH offers a change of scenery from a traditional office, your work environment is confined to your personal residence.

(2) Schedule

  • Remote work: Can be flexible. Some remote work arrangements allow employees to structure their workday around personal commitments and peak productivity hours. However, there can be specific work hour requirements depending on the company and role, particularly for globally dispersed teams.
  • Work from home (WFH): May or may not be flexible. Some WFH positions offer schedule flexibility, but many require adhering to a traditional office schedule. This can be appealing for those who manage childcare or commutes but may not offer the same level of scheduling freedom as a fully remote position.

(3) Permanence

  • Remote work: Can be temporary or permanent. Some companies offer remote work as a temporary option, such as during a pandemic. However, it's increasingly common for companies to have fully remote positions or even be entirely remote-first (no physical office at all).
  • Work from home (WFH): Often temporary. While some companies offer permanent WFH arrangements, it's more common for WFH to be a temporary solution or a benefit offered for occasional use.
Remote Work vs. Work From Home At a Glance

Which One Is the Best Fit for You?

Choosing between remote work and work from home (WFH) depends on your individual preferences, work style, and personal circumstances.

Here are some factors to consider to help you decide which option might be a better fit for you:

If You Thrive On...

  • Flexibility and Location Independence: Remote work offers the most flexibility in terms of choosing your work environment. You can work from a home office, co-working space, coffee shop, or anywhere with a good internet connection.
  • Structure and Social Interaction: Work from home may provide a good balance. While it offers some schedule flexibility and decreases the commute, it maintains a more structured work environment. It also allows for some occasional trips to the office (depending on the specific WFH arrangement).

Consider Your Needs For...

  • Work-Life Balance: Remote work may offer a better opportunity to achieve work-life balance, especially if you struggle to "switch off" in a home environment. The physical separation between work and personal space can be helpful for some.
  • Focus and Fewer Distractions: Both remote work and WFH can be suitable depending on your ability to manage distractions. If you find a dedicated workspace at home to be most productive, WFH might be a good fit. However, if you find a change of scenery or a co-working environment helps you focus, then remote work might be preferable.

Think about Your Personality

  • Do you crave social interaction and collaboration? If so, working entirely remotely may require extra effort to stay connected with colleagues. WFH or a hybrid model with occasional office visits might be a better fit.
  • Are you self-disciplined and easily motivated? Success in both remote work and WFH environments hinges on self-discipline and time management skills. If you struggle to stay focused in non-traditional work settings, working in a physical office might be more suitable.

Ultimately, the best way to determine which option is best for you is to discuss it with your employer. Many companies offer flexible work arrangements, and some may even allow you to experiment with both remote work and WFH to see which one you prefer.

Conclusion

Due to technological evolution, remote work and work from home arrangements are becoming increasingly popular options for both employers and employees. While both offer flexibility compared to a traditional office setting, there are key distinctions to consider.

Remote work provides the ultimate location independence and often allows for more schedule flexibility, but it can also present challenges with maintaining focus and social interaction. Work from home offers a taste of the flexibility associated with remote work, with the benefit of a familiar environment, but it may come with limitations on location and potential work-life balance challenges.

Ultimately, the best work style for you depends on your individual needs and preferences. By understanding the advantages and considerations of both remote work and work from home, you can make an informed decision that fosters productivity, well-being,  and a positive work-life balance.

FAQs

What Is the Difference Between Teleworking and Home Working?

Teleworking (Telecommuting)

  • Emphasis on Technology: Telework continues to emphasize the use of technology (telecommunication) to complete work from a remote location. This could be a home office, co-working space, coffee shop, or anywhere with a good internet connection.
  • Wider Scope: Telework remains the broader concept, encompassing a range of remote work arrangements, including fully remote positions where no regular office presence is required and partially remote positions, which are a mix of remote work and some on-site office work.
  • Historical context: The term "telecommuting" originated to describe remote work facilitated by earlier technologies like telephones, fax machines, and early computer networks. This focus on technology as the enabler of remote work is a key characteristic of telework.
  • Commuting for Specific Needs: Your point about occasional office visits for meetings or discussions aligns perfectly with the teleworking concept. Telecommuters may not be required in the office every day, but they might need to come in periodically for specific purposes.

Home Working

  • Focus on Location: Home working specifically refers to working from your personal residence. This aligns with the traditional understanding of the term.
  • Temporary or Permanent: Home working can be a temporary arrangement, such as working from home due to illness or during a pandemic, but it can also be a permanent work style for some positions.

Key Distinction

While both teleworking and home working involve remote work, the crucial distinction lies in the scope.

  • Teleworking is the broader umbrella term encompassing all forms of remote work that leverage technology for communication and collaboration.
  • Home working is a specific type of telework that refers to working exclusively from your home office.

What Does It Mean to Work Remotely?

Working remotely means performing your job duties from a location outside of a traditional office setting.

This could be your home office, a co-working space, a coffee shop, or anywhere with a reliable internet connection. Remote workers leverage technology like video conferencing and project management tools to collaborate with colleagues and complete tasks.

Does Home Office Mean Work From Home?

Yes, a home office is a specific workspace you create in your home for remote work.

Work from home (WFH) is a broader term encompassing any situation where you work remotely, but it doesn't require a dedicated home office.

You could work from your kitchen table or even your couch as long as you have the necessary equipment and can focus on your tasks.

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Remote Work vs Work From Home (Which Is Right for You?)
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Remote Work vs Work From Home (Which Is Right for You?)
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