Remote work is the practice of employees doing their jobs from a location other than a central office operated by the employer. Such locations could include an employee’s home, a co-working or other shared space, a private office, or any other place outside of the traditional corporate office building or campus.
Remote work has become increasingly popular because it offers benefits for both employers and employees alike. It also gained a great deal of renewed attention as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many organizations to quickly shift from a traditional face-to-face work environment to a fully remote workforce for health and safety reasons.
The long-term popularity of remote working is tied to the upsides it can provide, including reduced or eliminated commuting times, recruiting and hiring advantages, and productivity improvements.
Both individuals and organizations tend to choose remote work because it offers some clear-cut benefits compared with traditional on-site work. These include:
Although there’s no single “right” way of working remotely, there are some general best practices to create the conditions for success. These include:
Problems with remote working tend to surface when the best practices and basic principles of how remote teams work are missing. This leads to challenges such as:
Working from a home office is one form of remote work, but the two terms are not necessarily interchangeable. This is because remote working does not prescribe where someone works; it just means that they rarely go into a traditional office to do their job. Their day-to-day norm is to work from some other location, which may be in their home but is not limited to that location.
Moreover, “working from home” may also refer to a temporary or less frequent version of remote work. This scenario could include, for example, a person who is unexpectedly working from home for a day or two because of a short-term childcare need, but who otherwise would ordinarily work from the company’s office. This style of working is sometimes called telecommuting or telework. Whereas remote workers typically work from an off-site location most or all of the time, telecommuting or teleworking typically means that the person also regularly works on-site in a traditional office.