When you hear the terms “working from home” and “remote working”, you might automatically think they are one and the same thing. The truth is that home working and remote working are very different things. Working from home is when you actually work from your home for a certain period of time, while remote working means that you decide where you work everyday, instead of working from a designated office. Let’s consider how working from home compares to working remotely…
Below are the 14 points of consideration when trying to understand where home working and remote working differ. While most people think these two working options are similar, they are actually quite different. Let’s take a look at just how working from home is different from working remotely.
14 ways working from home differs from remote working:
1. The permanence of the situation.
One of the biggest differences between remote working and home working is just how permanent each is. Home working is typically not a permanent situation. Usually, it is temporary, and employees only enjoy it occasionally or a few days a week. Remote working implies a permanent style of working. This is not just a few days a week or on occasion…remote workers work out of the office on a permanent basis.
2. Possible disruption of the chain of command.
When an employee works from home temporarily, there is generally already a chain of command in place. While the employee is out of the office, this chain of command remains intact and is not disrupted. On the other hand, a remote employee is not part of the in-office chain of command, and the fact that they can work from anywhere and are in control of their own schedules means that the chain of command can be disrupted.
3. Motivation & drive required.
Because working from home is typically short-term or occasional, employees don’t particularly need to have self-motivation or drive on a long-term basis. As remote workers never work in the office, they have to be self-starters who are self-motivated and able to stick to a schedule. Remote workers need to be on point, whereas there’s more leeway for people who work from home on a temporary basis.
4. Communication abilities.
In order to work from home, one doesn’t have to learn to be a great and effective communicator. There’s already a chain of communication in place, and while one works from home, they simply follow the same communication protocols. Remote workers need to have specific communication abilities. As a remote worker, you must be able to be proactive about communicating and ensure that when you do communicate, you do so concisely, professionally, and clearly.
5. The working environment.
When working from home on an occasional basis or for the short term, you will typically set up your workspace in the kitchen or dining room if you don’t have a home office. This doesn’t have to be a specialized space as it is not a permanent working area.
Remote workers are faced with a completely different situation. Their working space has to be ergonomic and comfortable as well as kitted out with everything required to work on a permanent and ongoing basis. The working environment is another one of the biggest differences between working from home and working remotely.
6. Infrastructure and business strategy.
When an employee works from home occasionally, there is no real need to provide them with any provisions in terms of infrastructure and strategy. On the other hand, remote workers need to be provided with secure remote access to networks and systems. You also need to ensure that they have access to the right people and data in order to carry out their functions without inconveniencing them.
7. Distractions and ability to focus.
Working from home is undoubtedly jam-packed with distractions. Employees are tempted by their couch, the television, their bed, their hobbies, and even the draw to go out and spend hours shopping or having a lavish lunch.
Remote workers, on the other hand, suffer less at the hands of distractions as this is their permanent way of earning income. They are acutely aware that time on the couch or out to lunch means loss of income as they might not get paid a salary but generally paid for the work they complete. Remote workers need to have a remarkable ability to focus.
8. Budget and cost implications.
When an employee works from home a few days a week or for a set period of time, this typically doesn’t impact their budget as they still have access to all business stationery and resources. On the other hand, remote workers must pay for their own workspace, equipment, high-speed internet, stationery, and more. The cost implications for remote workers might be considerably higher than those who occasionally work from home.
9. Productivity levels.
Employers who allow workers to work a few days a week from home generally experience the benefits in increased productivity levels. Working from home on a few days is seen as a reward or something to look forward to, and so employees are often driven to work harder and put in more time on the days that they are in the office, so as to free up more time when they work from home. Remote workers have to keep their own productivity and motivation levels up in order to protect their income.
Occasionally, employees who work from home usually receive a set salary, whereas remote workers are paid per project completed. This could mean that those who work from home occasionally earn more than remote workers in general.
11. Opportunity to earn more.
Permanent employees who work from home on an occasional basis are tied to their working contract and don’t have much opportunity to earn additional income. On the other hand, remote workers can arrange their schedules in such a way that they can serve other customers and therefore earn more money on the side.
12. Home/work balance.
Homeworkers often struggle to get away from demanding work projects when they are working at home. They could wake up early to get started and work into the wee small hours of the next morning if the work demands it, but this is a temporary situation. Remote workers, because it is how they work permanently, need to ensure that they strike a healthy home/work balance.
13. Daily structure.
Someone who only works from home occasionally doesn’t have too much pressure in terms of structure, but because they aren’t experienced in self-motivation and scheduling, they might struggle. Remote workers need to be pros at creating a daily structure that boosts their productivity. Remote workers need to have exceptional time-management skills.
14. Security risk.
To a business, the security risk with home workers and remote workers is the same. Providing team members with network access and online systems could backfire if those employees don’t have sufficient cyber-security systems in place. Someone who works from home occasionally can expect their employer to provide security systems where a remote worker will need to ensure that they have the latest updated security software and systems in place.
Working from home and being a remote worker are essentially different things. Understanding the difference can help you to ensure that you know what is expected of you and what to expect from your working environment. Consider the above points before leaping into either situation.