Telecommuting vs. Telework vs. Remote Work: What’s The Difference?

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Nov 3, 2022

What’s the difference between telecommuting vs. telework? Or remote work? Or virtual work? How does working from home fit into all of this?

Is one better than another?

Is there anything you should know when you’re looking for remote work and you see these different terms listed?

What’s the difference between telecommuting work, telework, virtual work and remote work? Turns out there’s a lot of overlap – but also some key distinctions.

If you’ve been paying attention to the world of work, you’ll know that there are a lot of new buzzwords floating around. Telecommuting, telework, virtual work, and remote work all describe different ways of working outside of a traditional office setting. But what’s the difference? And which one is right for you?

There’s no doubt that the remote work model is here to stay. Even the most hard core old-school companies have seen the light.

Gone are the days of working from kitchen tables and setting up from home on a temporary basis. Here to stay is the permanent home office for the career paths for serious, highly educated and trained professional, white collar individuals.

In this article I’m covering everything you need to know about each type of working arrangement, why  employees and team members thrive as remote employees, the benefits, the challenges and why companies love them (and hate them).

Real quick, before we get too far into it here, if you want to get more great ideas for your gaming room or home office and want to connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

What is Teleworking?

What is Teleworking?

Teleworking is a work arrangement where employees trade their commute for working from an offsite office. Workers may work at any location where they can get internet access. Some locations include libraries, coffee shops, coworking spaces, etc.

Employers may require workers to travel to the central office for certain reasons, including meetings, conferences, training sessions, etc. However, if there is no requirement to travel, then teleworking becomes an ideal solution.

Teleworking is the perfect solution for jobs that involve research and writing, data analysis, sales, customer service, telemarketing, and other similar tasks.

Teleworking is becoming increasingly common in today’s workforce. Many businesses consider it a cost-effective alternative to hiring additional staff. Employees enjoy working remotely because they can spend less time commuting and more time doing productive work.

For those who prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes, teleworking is a great option. You’ll save money on gas, parking fees, and other transportation costs. Plus, you won’t have to worry about traffic jams, road construction, and other issues associated with driving to and from work every day.

What is Telecommuting?

What is Telecommuting?

With the rise of the Internet, the number of knowledge workers who work full time and telecommute has increased dramatically. These individuals tend to be highly educated professionals who enjoy flexibility and autonomy.

As a result, many employers are offering telecommuting options to attract and retain talent. Some organizations provide flexible schedules, allowing employees to telecommute during certain times of the day.

Many people choose to telecommute because they want to avoid long commutes or simply don’t want to drive to work everyday. They also enjoy having more control over their schedule and being able to set

There are two types of telecommuters: those who work remotely from home (which we will talk more about in a minute) and those who work remotely from a non-office location, for instance, like from a client’s office.

Telecommuters are usually highly skilled professionals who perform complex jobs requiring specialized knowledge. These include software developers, graphic designers, accountants, even lawyers, engineers, scientists, and architects are among the telecommuting labor force.

A telecommuter is someone who works remotely most of the time. They might work from home, a client’s location, or an offsite location, at places like a coworking space, library, coffee shop, etc. A telecommuter may work from home occasionally, but most of the time he/she works at a remote location.

A telecommuter may work from home or a client’s office or other satellite offices a few days a month. Some telecommuters prefer to work from home every day, while others only work from home occasionally.

What Is Remote Working?

What Is Remote Working?

When an employee telecommutes, they may also be called a remote worker. This term can be used to distinguish between employees who live outside a reasonable commuting distance of their place of employment and those who do not.

Remote working is working from any location where there is access to the Internet. You can do this from home, at a local coffee shop, or even from another country.

Remote work is incredibly popular with the digital nomad lifestyle because it’s the one type of “traditional” work that you can do while traveling.

Usually, with remote work, you aren’t close to the headquarters, but you might still interface with other teams in the organization. Even though that’s the case, as long as you have Internet access, working remotely is an option.

You’ll find that remote workers tend to be highly productive. They are able to focus on their tasks without distractions, and they can easily collaborate with others through online meetings and video conferencing.

This flexibility allows you to work whenever you feel like it, and you won’t have to worry about commuting.

As a result, remote workers tend to be happier and more engaged with their jobs.

They also tend to be less stressed out than those who commute to the office every day.

What are the big differences between remote work and telework?

What are the big differences between remote work and telework?

Are there any real differences between remote work and telework? Are we splitting hairs here?

I get that someone might think that. But there are nuances that make subtle, but real differences.

It’s an important point to note that telework and remote work are similar in that they involve working remotely.

However, there are subtle differences. One key difference is that telework involves traveling to the office , at least occasionally, whereas remote work does not.

Remote workers are free to work wherever they please, including their homes. Generally, there are no restrictions regarding where they can work. As long as they are able to communicate with coworkers via email, phone calls, video conferencing, etc., they are considered remote workers.

Though remote work is a broader term, telework usually refers to working from home. Most teleworkers are required to come into the office at least once per month. Some teleworkers may only visit once every couple months.

Both telework and remote work are beneficial to employers. Both types of work arrangements reduce costs associated with commuting and provide flexibility for employees.

What are the big differences between telecommuting and telework?

What are the big differences between telecommuting and telework?

Both telecommuting and teleworking involve working from somewhere other than the traditional office. However, while telecommuting can mean working from home or offsite at a client’s location, comparatively teleworking means working from a location outside the traditional office environment.

Both telecommuting and teleworking involve working from a distance. However, telecommuting means working from home or offsite, whereas teleworking means working from a location outside the traditional office environment.

While telecommuting may include working from home, it does not necessarily mean that the worker must live in the house where he/she works. A telecommuter may work from his/her parent’s house or another place that is convenient to him/her.

Though telecommuting and teleworking are used interchangeably, they do have slightly different meanings.

That said, the terms telecommuting and telework are considered dated terms and aren’t used that much anymore and instead are usually both replaced by the broader terms, remote work, and work from home.

What are the benefits of teleworking, telecommuting & remote work?

What are the benefits of teleworking, telecommuting & remote work?

Jack Nilles, widely considered the father of telecommuting, was one of the earliest – if not the earliest – advocate for working from home, and been preaching about the benefits of “telecommuting” since the early 70s.

In past decades the concept of a telework program was widely shunned if for no other reason than employers could not keep track of their employees and were hesitant about even the idea of a flexible schedule or mobile work.

But now, because change was forced on the world due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, so many companies have come to realize that such an arrangement benefits employers in addition to the benefits it has for remote employees.

There are numerous benefits to stepping out of the traditional office and embracing remote work, or at least a hybrid working model. Here are just a few:

  • Case studies widely report employee satisfaction for remote workers is higher
  • Remote work opens doors to talent in rural areas and other remote areas that would otherwise not be an option
  • Greater options to coordinate with workers in different time zones
  • Allows you to be effectively productive at your job while working from different locations
  • Getting out of the office building, powered by the use of technology reduces stress and improves performance on work-related tasks
  • Increase productivity by allowing employees to focus on their job without distractions
  • Reduce employee turnover rates due to employees not wanting to return to the office
  • Improve morale by giving workers flexibility and greater control over their schedules and work hours
  • Help reduce carbon emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled
  • Provide better quality service by eliminating long commutes
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for physical office space

Still curious? Click here to learn more about the benefits of working remotely.

What are the challenges of teleworking, telecommuting & remote work?

What are the challenges of teleworking, telecommuting & remote work?

While there are many benefits to working remotely, it does require a certain level of trust between employer and employee. At the very least, you must be able to trust your employees not to steal confidential information, misuse company resources, or otherwise damage your brand reputation.

Telecommuting is great because it allows you to work from anywhere at any time. However, it does come with certain challenges. One of the most common challenges is isolation. Many teleworkers find themselves alone in their homes without anyone else to talk to.

Another challenge is lack of communication. Because telecommuters don’t interact with each other face-to-face, they may struggle to communicate effectively.

A third challenge is poor technology. Technology is constantly evolving, which means that older devices and apps may become obsolete.

The challenges of remote work also include isolation, loss of focus, and a hard time building team camaraderie.

Regardless of which option you choose, best practices dictate that it’s important to establish clear expectations regarding the hours worked and the types of tasks performed. Also, make sure your employees understand that they are expected to maintain confidentiality of any information shared during meetings or phone calls. Finally, make sure your employees feel comfortable asking questions if they don’t fully understand the policies governing their employment.

Where can I find remote jobs?

Where can I find remote jobs?

Whether you’re looking for gig work or a long term career working from home, there are plenty of places where you can find remote jobs. Here are some of the best ones:

  • FlexjobsFlexjobs is easily the most popular website to browse listings of remote jobs. The site contains more than 50 categories that will allow you to work from home, each one with plenty of options for different experience levels.
  • Remote.coRemote.co is a remote job site that offers remote positions in six different categories, but each of these categories includes a hand-curated list of jobs. Each job listed on Remote.co is combed through carefully by hiring experts before posting online.
  • Virtual VocationsThis remote job site features positions in fields such as paralegal, technical writing, and data entry. This website also features a very helpful blog that covers a wide variety of subjects that are beneficial to all job seekers.
  • RemotiveRather than a job board, like the three previous options, Remotive is a bi-monthly newsletter that posts extensive lists of remote job opportunities. These listings are separated into several different categories that make the newsletter easy to navigate.
  • We Work Remotely – This is another online job board that will give only the best options for remote jobs. You will find all kinds of different companies and the biggest industry names recruiting here, like Automattic, Google, Basecamp and more.

Click here if you’re interested in learning more about remote jobs and staffing agencies.

Related Questions: Is working from home the same thing as telecommuting?

Working from home isn’t the same thing as working remotely. While telecommuters may work remotely, there is usually still a requirement for them to attend meetings at the physical office occasionally. A teleworker doesn’t necessarily have to physically be present in the office every day.

Related Questions: What is the new term for telecommuting?

Working from home has become synonymous with teleworking and telecommuting, the later of which have become dated terms.

Related Questions: What is the difference between telework and virtual work?

Telecommuting means working from a remote location without actually being physically present at the workplace. A typical example of telecommuting is working from home. You may not be able to talk to co-workers face-to-face, but you can still communicate via email, phone calls, video chats, etc.

Virtual work is a form of telework where you are physically located at a remote location, but you only work from that location. An example of virtual work is working from a coffee shop or library. You may not be physically present at the corporate headquarters, but you may still be required to check-in periodically.

Related Questions: What do you call working from home and office?

When your employer requires you to have certain days where you work from the office while the rest of the days are spent working from home, this is called a hybrid work model and has been adopted by many companies that cannot function properly without at least some in-person time in the office. This means that you work remote part of the time, and from the central office on a part-time basis.

Next Steps

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Robert David Orr

Robert is a writer & creator, author of the WordPress Website Blueprint, award winning web developer, and leader in digital strategy. He's also a tenured work at home veteran who's been working from home for more than 10 years. Learn more. Got questions? Reach out and connect here - Contact Home Office Hacks here.

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