What Does Remote Work Mean: The Ultimate Guide to The Future of Work

Remote working is any work happening outside the traditional workplace, such as office space. Learn all about what it means, it pros and cons and how you can use the remote workforce to maximize your business.

Written by Anja Simic
October 18, 2021

What Does Remote Work Mean: The Ultimate Guide to The Future of Work

Remote working is any work happening outside the traditional workplace, such as office space. Learn all about what it means, it pros and cons and how you can use the remote workforce to maximize your business.

Written by Anja Simic
October 18, 2021

What Does Remote Work Mean: The Ultimate Guide to The Future of Work

Remote working is any work happening outside the traditional workplace, such as office space. Learn all about what it means, it pros and cons and how you can use the remote workforce to maximize your business.

What Does Remote Work Mean: The Ultimate Guide to The Future of Work

Remote working is any work happening outside the traditional workplace, such as office space. Learn all about what it means, it pros and cons and how you can use the remote workforce to maximize your business.

In the last decade or so, remote work has been crawling its way into the mainstream of the business lingo. Then, 2020 and coronavirus pandemic happened. Working remotely became a norm. As a result, a vast number of companies and startups had to adjust to remote working almost overnight.

Has this transition caught you too? Or do you plan to work remotely? No matter what your situation is, we've compiled a thorough guide. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know, from the most wanted remote positions to the benefits of having your own schedule and much more.

Read on and find out why being a remote worker is so popular and how freelancing can also change your career.

What is remote work?

Remote work is any work happening outside the traditional office. Employees who work remotely don’t commute to centralized workplaces. They work from an alternate location instead. It can be their home office, a co-working space, a local coffee shop, or anywhere they choose to be. The philosophy of remote work can be summed up in one simple sentence. As long as you get work done, it doesn’t matter where you sit.

This way of thinking allows workers to thrive outside of an office environment. It enables them to control their work schedules and improve their work-life balance. The market is shifting from a traditional office space and 9 to 5 full-time jobs. It now favors a more flexible, free-flowing structure. This concept of work has lead to many people choosing remote working. Being a remote employee has contributed to the quality of their lives. It allows them more time for their families, hobbies, passions, and leisure activities.

At the same time, and in a bit of a paradox, remote workers show increased productivity and better work results. They also have much higher satisfaction with their positions and careers.

Remote work terminology

There are different terms used to describe remote work, and some of them may have you confused. Here is a short terminology round up:

Remote work vs. Working From Home (also, WFH, work from home, work at home)

Consider remote work a blanket term of sorts. While remote workers can work from anywhere, working from home means exactly what it says- your home is your workspace.

Remote work vs. Telecommuting

In this case, the lines get a bit blurry. Nowadays, remote work and telecommuting are synonymous, with subtle differences. Telecommuting is a bit of a dated term. It is used to refer to a person working remotely or working from home most of the time. They could, however, swing by the office for a meeting if necessary. They weren't a fully remote employee. Because of this, telecommuters are mainly hired locally. Remote work has been gaining more traction, and companies are looking beyond local talent. This is why most companies don’t use the word telecommuter and opt for remote workers instead.

Interested to hear all about the benefits of teleworking? Read our article to get more info!

Remote work vs. a Distributed team

The term has been gaining traction lately, and with that, debates are taking place. Many wonder about whether the word distributed should replace remote altogether. Some experts argue that remote is a designation for an individual worker. On the other hand, distributed requires the whole company to adopt the mindset. Companies and teams that are distributed usually don’t have offices anywhere. They can only work remotely,  so this term may be what you sometimes call a “fully remote” company.

Remote work vs. Flex jobs

Flex jobs or flexible working is a term describing your work hours rather than a location. Most remote teams also incorporate flexible work options or part-time arrangements. This means that you can be responsible for your schedule. Flexible work jobs are not always remote. They can also be done in a physical office with flexible work hours or time-shifting.

Remote work vs. Hybrid teams

A hybrid office or company is a mix of conventional and remote teams. Workers can choose if they want to work remotely, in the office, or both. Team members usually opt to work some days in the office. It helps them to connect with their coworkers and discuss some things face-to-face. Hybrid teams can be a great starting point for companies not yet ready to become fully remote.

Interested in hybrid teams? Here you can learn all about them.

Is remote work the future of work?

Before the pandemic, remote work was a perk usually enjoyed by certain companies. It was a popular option for IT staff, marketers, and freelancers. However, since March 2020, a shift has happened. Most companies have had to experience working remotely in some form. The debate is still heated about what remote work is and how good it is. Some companies are vocally advocating remote working, while others can’t wait to go back to the company's office.

There are pros and cons to both of these options. This is why hybrid teams are now the new buzzwords in the business world, along with remote work that many are still adjusting to. The ability to enjoy the benefits of both ways of working is appealing to many. It seems like a great option to enjoy the flexible schedule, while still being a part of the busy office environment. The world probably won’t ever go "back to normal", or at least to how it was before. Instead, the trend that arises is a blend of the traditional office environment, flexible jobs, and remote employment.

If you are interested in learning more about this burning question, you can read here a lot more about it.

Hire employees abroad, without setting up an entity

Get access to the world’s best talent. Hire full-time employees in 150 countries without having to set up a legal entity in a new country.

Learn more

Common misconceptions about remote work

The abrupt events of last year forced everyone to be familiar with the concept of remote working. By now, everyone knows someone who is working from home. Perhaps they are even obligated to have remote jobs. However, that doesn’t mean that they are fully on board with this abandonment of the traditional office space. In most cases, the reason behind it lies in common misconceptions and myths surrounding remote jobs. Let’s see if we can debunk them.

Working remotely means being available all the time, often causing burnout

This is one of the most common beliefs about remote work. Blurring the lines between a worker’s personal life and work can happen often. Thankfully, companies are combating the always-on issue and with promising results. They are doing this by adopting remote work policies. In them, they outline everyone’s work hours and encourage time off and work-life balance.

Remote employees are lazy and want to avoid working

This couldn’t be further from the truth - remote work is not an excuse for slacking. This misconception stems from people basing their trust in employees on micromanagement. They can see them in the office, allowing them to oversee their work easily. However, there is no proof that remote workers are any less hardworking than their office counterparts.

Communication is impossibly hard in remote teams

Communicating in remote teams is a significant challenge. However, there are many ways to address and overcome it. Just because employees aren't in a traditional office environment doesn't mean that they'll havw issues. There are ways to tackle the issue of communication for anyone who works remotely. One of them is to use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Microsoft teams. You can proactively schedule entire team meetings so everyone can see each other and discuss important topics.

Benefits of remote jobs for employers

From a company standpoint, remote work can seem like it’s all about the workers, with little implication to the business. However, a distributed workforce can bring many benefits to employers as well.

Access to a wider talent pool

Access to a talent pool, especially a global one, means employers don’t have to rely on local talent pools to fill a specific role. With remote work, your entire team can be distributed across the globe. And they can still achieve amazing results, in their professional lives as well as in private.

If a job can be done remotely, it can be done by anyone in the world. Your ideal candidate only has to have the skills and drive you are looking for. The rise of remote employees can bring great value to any employer. It can turn your hiring process towards the best and most qualified people, not the closest ones.

Talent retention

Talent retention is something that shouldn’t be disregarded when it comes to remote jobs. Remote work can significantly improve the quality of employees' lives. This is a crucial benefit for many companies.  It is proven that healthier employees produce better results. Supporting remote workers with paid time off, sick leave, and other benefits influences employees. It means that they will be happier, less concerned, and therefore less likely to change jobs often. Remote employment isn't only about the best collaboration tools, and the ability to set your hours. Sometimes it's about offering someone a flexible lifestyle - a significant change that has a long-lasting impact. Retaining good people is often harder than finding them. Having a truly dedicated team comprised of many remote workers, who are happy and thriving, goes a long way in making a company successful.

Cost savings

Last but not least - cost savings. Employers often think that remote workers will cost more. They focus on the cost of file-sharing software, collaboration tools, and various investments in remote workers. However, this is not the case, remote companies save a lot of money. Companies don't have real estate, office furniture, maintenance, and upkeep costs. There are also no commuting expenses, catering for on-site employees, and many other office-space-related payments. Besides this, remote employees can end up costing much less than full-time employees. This is especially true the ones that you can hire internationally or the ones that operate as independent contractors.

Benefits for remote employees

Even though remote work has its challenges, some of the benefits are so substantial they can be life-changing. Some employees have gotten used to working remotely in 2020. They are already asking if remote work is the new normal. Many doubt they will ever be ready to go back to office workers.

Flexible schedule

The main benefit for a remote employee is, of course, the flexibility. Remote work gives employees the option of structuring their day around their lives and their circumstances. This is especially true for fully distributed companies. Their fully remote employees can enjoy all the perks of working flexible jobs. They can distribute their working hours as they please, without fixed schedules and wasting time on commuting. Some can even choose to become digital nomads, changing their location frequently. This has a significant impact on their personal life, as well as their performance. Although remote work schedules aren't always flexible, they're still way less rigid.

Mental health and wellbeing

Work-life balance isn't only a desired perk, it's a necessity for any employee. Almost all remote companies understand this. They are focused on enabling their employees to work remotely and improving their health while doing it. Remote employees work in more flexible environments, with less pressure and tight deadlines. They also offer various perks for those who choose to work remotely - wellbeing allowances, gym memberships, or fitness budgets. All of these actions contribute to the overall satisfaction of any remote employee, especially a fully remote one.

Cost of living reduction

The dream of earning a substantial income while living anywhere you please has been met with remote working. It is no longer unattainable, and many have remote work precisely because of it. Fully remote employees can reduce their living costs and choose to settle in a more affordable place, with better living quality for their families. They can do this while still working a high-paying job, just not the one that has to be done in the traditional office.

Increased productivity

With fewer environmental distractions, long in-person meetings, chit-chat with in-office employees, and coffee shops queues, it's no surprise that remote employees are more productive than their in-office counterparts. Many new inventions used by remote workers lead to a better outcome for employers alike. Collaboration software, different ways to measure productivity, file sharing apps, in turn, create happier, healthier employees, well accustomed to the digital age. Flexible lifestyle and lack of commute lead to significant time-saving. This is enabling those who choose to work remotely to be more productive and way happier.

Challenges of remote work

The disadvantages of remote work are usually tied to the habit and desire to see and spend time with our coworkers. However, there are ways to tackle all of these downsides of what it means to work remotely.

It would be impossible to talk about remote work without mentioning the toll that working alone can take. Remote employees are at a greater risk of experiencing isolation. This is especially true if their coworkers are in a different country or time zone, and they only interact on video calls. The inability to form relationships organically and engage in office chit-chats also potentially lowers the sense of belonging and camaraderie. The best way to tackle remote work loneliness is to introduce casual communication deliberately. For example, you can create a virtual coworking space. Your remote workers can discuss non-work-related issues, but also exchange memes, useful links, etc.

If you are a fully remote company, it is advisable to invest in a company retreat at least once a year. Alternatively, you can offer paid in-person meetings, coffee shop breaks, sightseeing, and discussions about their affection for flexible jobs. Remote employees work well alone, that is beyond doubt. But a trip that gets the entire team together at least once a year can be beneficial for everyone.

Another issue to pay attention to with remote workers is their lowered access to teams. They can't collaborate with other team members as often as they would if they were office workers. So, they might struggle with collaborative tasks, following instructions, and exchanging information. This can happen very often when fully remote team members work in different time zones with flexible schedules. If you've noticed this happening with your remote employees, you should take the issue immediately. Schedule a couple of video calls, see what the issues they are facing and implement protocols to help them.

Finally, the biggest challenge of remote work is the responsibility of the worker. The tasks and performance of remote employees depend on their organization and time management. Being proactive and responsible in delegating your own time can be a tricky shift of mindset. However, remote work statistics show something interesting. If remote workers are equipped with tools and tangible metrics, this potential issue can be easily overcome. Make sure to support remote team members with training and education as well to maximize their performance.

Learn more about the pros and cons of remote work so you can make an informed decision.

Is remote work here to stay?

Absolutely. In the past few years, many big companies are changing their work environment and work arrangements towards remote work. Companies like Facebook, Slack, Zoom, Twitter, Spotify, Google, and many more are either fully remote or at least having remote work as an option.

With all the benefits and advantages of a distributed workforce, we can only predict that the number of people working remotely as well as work-from-home jobs will increase in the years to come. If the global business community starts looking at the big picture and realizes the potential of remote work productivity, diversity, and effectiveness, more and more of us may be working from a location of our choosing.

If that happens, we hope this article will prove to be a useful guide in understanding and implementing remote work into your career and your company.

In the last decade or so, remote work has been crawling its way into the mainstream of the business lingo. Then, 2020 and coronavirus pandemic happened. Working remotely became a norm. As a result, a vast number of companies and startups had to adjust to remote working almost overnight.

Has this transition caught you too? Or do you plan to work remotely? No matter what your situation is, we've compiled a thorough guide. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know, from the most wanted remote positions to the benefits of having your own schedule and much more.

Read on and find out why being a remote worker is so popular and how freelancing can also change your career.

What is remote work?

Remote work is any work happening outside the traditional office. Employees who work remotely don’t commute to centralized workplaces. They work from an alternate location instead. It can be their home office, a co-working space, a local coffee shop, or anywhere they choose to be. The philosophy of remote work can be summed up in one simple sentence. As long as you get work done, it doesn’t matter where you sit.

This way of thinking allows workers to thrive outside of an office environment. It enables them to control their work schedules and improve their work-life balance. The market is shifting from a traditional office space and 9 to 5 full-time jobs. It now favors a more flexible, free-flowing structure. This concept of work has lead to many people choosing remote working. Being a remote employee has contributed to the quality of their lives. It allows them more time for their families, hobbies, passions, and leisure activities.

At the same time, and in a bit of a paradox, remote workers show increased productivity and better work results. They also have much higher satisfaction with their positions and careers.

Remote work terminology

There are different terms used to describe remote work, and some of them may have you confused. Here is a short terminology round up:

Remote work vs. Working From Home (also, WFH, work from home, work at home)

Consider remote work a blanket term of sorts. While remote workers can work from anywhere, working from home means exactly what it says- your home is your workspace.

Remote work vs. Telecommuting

In this case, the lines get a bit blurry. Nowadays, remote work and telecommuting are synonymous, with subtle differences. Telecommuting is a bit of a dated term. It is used to refer to a person working remotely or working from home most of the time. They could, however, swing by the office for a meeting if necessary. They weren't a fully remote employee. Because of this, telecommuters are mainly hired locally. Remote work has been gaining more traction, and companies are looking beyond local talent. This is why most companies don’t use the word telecommuter and opt for remote workers instead.

Interested to hear all about the benefits of teleworking? Read our article to get more info!

Remote work vs. a Distributed team

The term has been gaining traction lately, and with that, debates are taking place. Many wonder about whether the word distributed should replace remote altogether. Some experts argue that remote is a designation for an individual worker. On the other hand, distributed requires the whole company to adopt the mindset. Companies and teams that are distributed usually don’t have offices anywhere. They can only work remotely,  so this term may be what you sometimes call a “fully remote” company.

Remote work vs. Flex jobs

Flex jobs or flexible working is a term describing your work hours rather than a location. Most remote teams also incorporate flexible work options or part-time arrangements. This means that you can be responsible for your schedule. Flexible work jobs are not always remote. They can also be done in a physical office with flexible work hours or time-shifting.

Remote work vs. Hybrid teams

A hybrid office or company is a mix of conventional and remote teams. Workers can choose if they want to work remotely, in the office, or both. Team members usually opt to work some days in the office. It helps them to connect with their coworkers and discuss some things face-to-face. Hybrid teams can be a great starting point for companies not yet ready to become fully remote.

Interested in hybrid teams? Here you can learn all about them.

Is remote work the future of work?

Before the pandemic, remote work was a perk usually enjoyed by certain companies. It was a popular option for IT staff, marketers, and freelancers. However, since March 2020, a shift has happened. Most companies have had to experience working remotely in some form. The debate is still heated about what remote work is and how good it is. Some companies are vocally advocating remote working, while others can’t wait to go back to the company's office.

There are pros and cons to both of these options. This is why hybrid teams are now the new buzzwords in the business world, along with remote work that many are still adjusting to. The ability to enjoy the benefits of both ways of working is appealing to many. It seems like a great option to enjoy the flexible schedule, while still being a part of the busy office environment. The world probably won’t ever go "back to normal", or at least to how it was before. Instead, the trend that arises is a blend of the traditional office environment, flexible jobs, and remote employment.

If you are interested in learning more about this burning question, you can read here a lot more about it.

Common misconceptions about remote work

The abrupt events of last year forced everyone to be familiar with the concept of remote working. By now, everyone knows someone who is working from home. Perhaps they are even obligated to have remote jobs. However, that doesn’t mean that they are fully on board with this abandonment of the traditional office space. In most cases, the reason behind it lies in common misconceptions and myths surrounding remote jobs. Let’s see if we can debunk them.

Working remotely means being available all the time, often causing burnout

This is one of the most common beliefs about remote work. Blurring the lines between a worker’s personal life and work can happen often. Thankfully, companies are combating the always-on issue and with promising results. They are doing this by adopting remote work policies. In them, they outline everyone’s work hours and encourage time off and work-life balance.

Remote employees are lazy and want to avoid working

This couldn’t be further from the truth - remote work is not an excuse for slacking. This misconception stems from people basing their trust in employees on micromanagement. They can see them in the office, allowing them to oversee their work easily. However, there is no proof that remote workers are any less hardworking than their office counterparts.

Communication is impossibly hard in remote teams

Communicating in remote teams is a significant challenge. However, there are many ways to address and overcome it. Just because employees aren't in a traditional office environment doesn't mean that they'll havw issues. There are ways to tackle the issue of communication for anyone who works remotely. One of them is to use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Microsoft teams. You can proactively schedule entire team meetings so everyone can see each other and discuss important topics.

Benefits of remote jobs for employers

From a company standpoint, remote work can seem like it’s all about the workers, with little implication to the business. However, a distributed workforce can bring many benefits to employers as well.

Access to a wider talent pool

Access to a talent pool, especially a global one, means employers don’t have to rely on local talent pools to fill a specific role. With remote work, your entire team can be distributed across the globe. And they can still achieve amazing results, in their professional lives as well as in private.

If a job can be done remotely, it can be done by anyone in the world. Your ideal candidate only has to have the skills and drive you are looking for. The rise of remote employees can bring great value to any employer. It can turn your hiring process towards the best and most qualified people, not the closest ones.

Talent retention

Talent retention is something that shouldn’t be disregarded when it comes to remote jobs. Remote work can significantly improve the quality of employees' lives. This is a crucial benefit for many companies.  It is proven that healthier employees produce better results. Supporting remote workers with paid time off, sick leave, and other benefits influences employees. It means that they will be happier, less concerned, and therefore less likely to change jobs often. Remote employment isn't only about the best collaboration tools, and the ability to set your hours. Sometimes it's about offering someone a flexible lifestyle - a significant change that has a long-lasting impact. Retaining good people is often harder than finding them. Having a truly dedicated team comprised of many remote workers, who are happy and thriving, goes a long way in making a company successful.

Cost savings

Last but not least - cost savings. Employers often think that remote workers will cost more. They focus on the cost of file-sharing software, collaboration tools, and various investments in remote workers. However, this is not the case, remote companies save a lot of money. Companies don't have real estate, office furniture, maintenance, and upkeep costs. There are also no commuting expenses, catering for on-site employees, and many other office-space-related payments. Besides this, remote employees can end up costing much less than full-time employees. This is especially true the ones that you can hire internationally or the ones that operate as independent contractors.

Hire employees abroad, without setting up an entity

Get access to the world’s best talent. Hire full-time employees in 150 countries without having to set up a legal entity in a new country.

Learn more

Benefits for remote employees

Even though remote work has its challenges, some of the benefits are so substantial they can be life-changing. Some employees have gotten used to working remotely in 2020. They are already asking if remote work is the new normal. Many doubt they will ever be ready to go back to office workers.

Flexible schedule

The main benefit for a remote employee is, of course, the flexibility. Remote work gives employees the option of structuring their day around their lives and their circumstances. This is especially true for fully distributed companies. Their fully remote employees can enjoy all the perks of working flexible jobs. They can distribute their working hours as they please, without fixed schedules and wasting time on commuting. Some can even choose to become digital nomads, changing their location frequently. This has a significant impact on their personal life, as well as their performance. Although remote work schedules aren't always flexible, they're still way less rigid.

Mental health and wellbeing

Work-life balance isn't only a desired perk, it's a necessity for any employee. Almost all remote companies understand this. They are focused on enabling their employees to work remotely and improving their health while doing it. Remote employees work in more flexible environments, with less pressure and tight deadlines. They also offer various perks for those who choose to work remotely - wellbeing allowances, gym memberships, or fitness budgets. All of these actions contribute to the overall satisfaction of any remote employee, especially a fully remote one.

Cost of living reduction

The dream of earning a substantial income while living anywhere you please has been met with remote working. It is no longer unattainable, and many have remote work precisely because of it. Fully remote employees can reduce their living costs and choose to settle in a more affordable place, with better living quality for their families. They can do this while still working a high-paying job, just not the one that has to be done in the traditional office.

Increased productivity

With fewer environmental distractions, long in-person meetings, chit-chat with in-office employees, and coffee shops queues, it's no surprise that remote employees are more productive than their in-office counterparts. Many new inventions used by remote workers lead to a better outcome for employers alike. Collaboration software, different ways to measure productivity, file sharing apps, in turn, create happier, healthier employees, well accustomed to the digital age. Flexible lifestyle and lack of commute lead to significant time-saving. This is enabling those who choose to work remotely to be more productive and way happier.

Challenges of remote work

The disadvantages of remote work are usually tied to the habit and desire to see and spend time with our coworkers. However, there are ways to tackle all of these downsides of what it means to work remotely.

It would be impossible to talk about remote work without mentioning the toll that working alone can take. Remote employees are at a greater risk of experiencing isolation. This is especially true if their coworkers are in a different country or time zone, and they only interact on video calls. The inability to form relationships organically and engage in office chit-chats also potentially lowers the sense of belonging and camaraderie. The best way to tackle remote work loneliness is to introduce casual communication deliberately. For example, you can create a virtual coworking space. Your remote workers can discuss non-work-related issues, but also exchange memes, useful links, etc.

If you are a fully remote company, it is advisable to invest in a company retreat at least once a year. Alternatively, you can offer paid in-person meetings, coffee shop breaks, sightseeing, and discussions about their affection for flexible jobs. Remote employees work well alone, that is beyond doubt. But a trip that gets the entire team together at least once a year can be beneficial for everyone.

Another issue to pay attention to with remote workers is their lowered access to teams. They can't collaborate with other team members as often as they would if they were office workers. So, they might struggle with collaborative tasks, following instructions, and exchanging information. This can happen very often when fully remote team members work in different time zones with flexible schedules. If you've noticed this happening with your remote employees, you should take the issue immediately. Schedule a couple of video calls, see what the issues they are facing and implement protocols to help them.

Finally, the biggest challenge of remote work is the responsibility of the worker. The tasks and performance of remote employees depend on their organization and time management. Being proactive and responsible in delegating your own time can be a tricky shift of mindset. However, remote work statistics show something interesting. If remote workers are equipped with tools and tangible metrics, this potential issue can be easily overcome. Make sure to support remote team members with training and education as well to maximize their performance.

Learn more about the pros and cons of remote work so you can make an informed decision.

Is remote work here to stay?

Absolutely. In the past few years, many big companies are changing their work environment and work arrangements towards remote work. Companies like Facebook, Slack, Zoom, Twitter, Spotify, Google, and many more are either fully remote or at least having remote work as an option.

With all the benefits and advantages of a distributed workforce, we can only predict that the number of people working remotely as well as work-from-home jobs will increase in the years to come. If the global business community starts looking at the big picture and realizes the potential of remote work productivity, diversity, and effectiveness, more and more of us may be working from a location of our choosing.

If that happens, we hope this article will prove to be a useful guide in understanding and implementing remote work into your career and your company.