Telecommuting vs Remote Work (Which One Is Right For You)

The terms telecommuting and remote work are often treated as synonyms. However, there are some small differences between the terms “telecommuting” vs “remote work”.  At its core, the term “remote work” simply implies just that, that an employee is remotely located. “Telecommuting” can mean that you work out of the office all of the time or only part of the time.

More companies are hiring telecommuters/remote workers than ever post-pandemic. More people than ever are also aware of the benefits of working remotely and are looking for remote jobs. However, whenever you are debating about applying for a job whose description advertises telecommuting or remote work, it is important that you fully understand the details of the job.  You need to learn more about what your work situation will be.

Does Telecommuting Mean Work from Home?telecommuting

Work from home simply means that you are completing your job duties at home rather than in an office.  This often requires a dedicated home office space, but your employer will likely provide you with the basic materials and supplies you need.  For example, your employer will often provide you with things like a computer and a phone if your position requires one.

Like the terms “telecommuting” or “remote work”, you could be working from home on a full-time, part-time, or as-needed basis.  There may be a variety of situations where an employer can advertise that you could work from home.  This could include anything from a set schedule where you always work out of your home office to a schedule where you can work from home only a few times a year when things like weather emergencies happen.  

There is a large overlap between the term “working from home” and the terms “remote work” and “telecommuting” because you could be working from home while you are working remotely or telecommuting. However, when you are working from home, you are telecommuting or remote working.

How to Interpret the Job Description?

When you are searching for a job, you may come across any of these terms in the job description.  Without talking to someone directly at your potential employer about the job itself, it is impossible to say what exactly these terms imply as they are too similar.  The terms “remote work” and “telecommuting” simply imply that you are working at a location away from the office.

However, to get into the subtleties, the term “remote work” does imply that you are remotely located. However, this can just mean that you are not directly in the office itself.  For example, my own employer classifies me as a remote worker even though I am only located an hour away from the office and could feasibly commute if necessary.

Telecommuting also specifies that you are working outside of a central office location, but you can communicate with your coworkers via telecommunications.  These telecommunications could include things like email, phone calls, messaging applications like Skype or Teams, or video meetings like those offered by Zoom.  The type of telecommunications required will vary between different companies. 

The central thread between the two is that telecommuters and remote workers can be working outside the office, or they could be working at a completely different location such as a coffee shop near their home or even on the other side of the world.  This can give you some awesome benefits and flexibility as a worker.  However, this can all depend on what your potential employer means by telecommuting or remote work. 

In general, the same employee could be classified as both a remote worker and a telecommuter, but the term used may just depend on the person writing the job description.  This makes it even more crucial that you ask questions when you are applying for a job and during the interview process. 

The Bottom Line on Telecommuting vs Remote Work

The bottom line is that the terms “telecommuting” and “remote work” are similar.  There are some subtle differences, but they can be used interchangeably.  At their core, both simply mean that you are working away from a central office.

Either can be right for you. You will have to get more information to know fully what you are getting into if you do decide to apply for a job that uses the terms “telecommuting” and “remote work” in the job description.  Once you have more information, you can determine if the job is a good fit for you and what you are looking for or not.