What is remote working? Definition and examples

Remote working means working far from where your employer is located. For example, if you work at home but your employer’s offices are ten miles away, you are a remote worker.

In a remote working situation or arrangement, the worker does not commuter or travel to an office building, warehouse, etc., he or she does not travel to a central workplace.

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Over the last couple of decades, the percentage of employees working remotely has increased significantly. Will the office or central workplace cease to exist one day?

According to WORKFROMHOMEJOBS.ME, which lists work-at-home job vacancies from nine different online boards:

“Remote working, teleworking, and telecommuting mean working away from your employer’s main workplace. In most cases. it refers to working from home, but may include anywhere away from the office, such as on a train or bus, in a cafe, or a library.”

We use the term teleworking with the same meaning as remote working. Telecommuting is also a popular term for working remotely.

Remote working becoming more common

Since the advent of the Internet a few decades ago, how we work, study, play, spend our leisure time, communicate, and gather information has changed significantly.

Today, we can have video conferences, communicate by texting, mobile phones, and email. We can store our work in the cloud for colleagues and bosses to access and also work on.

Teamwork today does not require all members to be physically together. With modern technology, members of a team might be thousands of miles apart, but are able to function as one harmonious, synchronized unit.

This means that many employees can function just as effectively if they work remotely, i.e., at home.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 26 million Americans work remotely today either full time or part-time. This is approximately 16% of the country’s total workforce. In just one decade, from 2005 to 2015, the number of Americans involved in remote working grew by 115%.

The American Psychological Association says the following about people working remotely:

“Telecommuting arrangements can vary greatly for different workers. They can be fully or partially remote; they may work from a home office, co-working space or other location; and increasingly they may be geographically distant from the organization or clients they serve.”

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Thanks to modern technology, teleworking is possible for virtually every type of work-related function.

Remote working successfully

If you want to function successfully as a teleworker, you need to have:

  • A laptop or desktop computer.
  • An email account.
  • Access to a VoIP service such as Skype which has telephoning, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing technology (videoconferencing is not always necessary). VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol.
  • A smartphone.
  • A fax machine (in some cases).
  • A printer (in some cases).

Advantages for the employee and employer

Remote working offers several advantages for both employees and employers. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Benefits for the employer
  • Lower office running costs. If people are working at home, your utility bills will be lower and you won’t need so much office space.
  • Travel-related problems, such as public transport strikes, bad weather, or floods are less likely to disrupt work.
  • Your talent pool for recruitment is much bigger. You are not limited just to people within commuting distance. In fact, you can employ anybody worldwide as long as they have an Internet connection and access to communication technology.
Benefits for the employee
  • No more commuting.
  • You don’t need to get up as early as your commuting colleagues do.
  • Your work environment is familiar and comfortable.
  • No travel costs.
  • You have a better work-life balance.
  • You are less likely to be the victim of workplace bullying or harassment.

 

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Richard Branson, who co-founded the Virgin Group, once said: “In 30 years time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed.” (Image: https://twitter.com/richardbranson/)

What about office camaraderie?

If you are considering working at home, you need to be willing to give up some of the benefits of being with others in an office. You will meet your colleagues less often and you will have fewer opportunities to forget about personal problems with workplace banter or getting together with workmates for a drink at the end of the day.

If you are the only one who works remotely, you may eventually find yourself becoming the ‘outsider.’ Will you feel left out?

In a Market Business News article about teleworking, we made the following comment:

“If you prefer separating your personal life from work, teleworking may not be for you. Bear in mind that you will be spending considerably more time ‘immersed’ in your personal life.”

“A teleworker needs to be a self-motivated person. There will be nobody there motivating you to carry out your duties properly and on time. Are you that kind of person? Can you work successfully under your own steam?”