Remote Work vs Telecommuting: What’s the Difference?



INSIDE: When we look at remote work vs telecommuting, is there a difference? We’ll tell you the pros and cons of each and help you determine which one is best for you.

We have seen, and continue to see, significant changes from Covid-19 in terms of the way we work.

Many people who are lucky enough to do so have replaced their cubicle with a work-from-home office. Companies are becoming more and more focused on their online strategies, and companies are posting more and more remote opportunities and telecommuting jobs.


If you are looking for work from home opportunities, you may be wondering what the difference is between remote work and a telecommuting job.

Or, maybe you never even thought about it and you’re just now pondering if there even is a difference between the two. 

Well, the answer will soon be clear. Let’s talk about the differences between telecommuting and remote work, the pros and cons of each, and some of the places you can look if you want to find a new job.


Differences between telecommuting and remote work

The terms telecommuting and remote work are often used interchangeably however, there are some subtle nuances between the two. 

Telecommuting is the practice of working from home using the phone and internet to connect with other team members and to accomplish work tasks. With telecommuting, the idea is that you can work from home some of the time but you might also spend some of your time onsite in a physical office. You are essentially doing exactly what you would do in an office, just at home. 

Working remotely means that you can work from anywhere in the world. You are not tied to a physical location and there is no expectation that you will spend any of your time in a particular office. 

So, while these two types of work are very similar, the biggest difference between the two is that with telecommuting there is the option, and perhaps some expectation, that you might spend some of your time in an office. As a result, you might not be able to live anywhere in the world if you want a particular telecommuting job

Pros and cons of remote work vs telecommuting

Because there are some differences between remote work and telecommuting, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of each before pursuing one type of work over the other. While they are very similar there are some important benefits and challenges associated with each. 

Pros of remote work

  • Can live and work from anywhere in the world. You are not tied to a geographical location.
  • No commute….ever
  • No office attire required
  • Flexible schedule 
  • You shape the workplace – you get to set up your office wherever and however you like

Cons of remote work

  • Loneliness
  • Difficulty creating a distinction between work and life
  • Trying to find reliable wifi
  • Working in different time zones
  • May find it difficult to take vacations 

Pros of telecommuting

  • Variety – you have the option to work from home or from an office
  • Reduced commuting – you don’t have to commute every day 
  • Presumably reliable wifi
  • Coworkers to connect with
  • Structured work schedule 
  • Don’t have to try to navigate different time zones 

Cons of telecommuting

  • May still have to commute every once in a while
  • Still need to buy office-appropriate attire (but this may be a positive for some!)
  • Need to live where you work – can’t be a global nomad 
  • Have to work a regular 9 to 5 schedule 

So, now that you know the difference between the two, how do you decide which work style is better for you?

You can start by thinking about the lifestyle you want. Do you want to travel for large portions of time throughout the year? Do you want the freedom to move to and live wherever you want? Are you comfortable working alone? Do you mind taking a conference call in the middle of the night to accommodate clients on the other side of the world?  If so, then perhaps remote work is the right fit for you.

On the other hand, if you crave stability and routine, you enjoy dressing up for work, and you like working with a team, then perhaps a job that allows you to telecommute is a better choice for you.

Setting up a space to work remotely or telecommute

While we have established that there are in fact differences between working remotely and telecommuting, when it comes to the practical side of things, there isn’t a ton of difference. The equipment you need to work remotely is pretty similar to the equipment you need to telecommute. 

If you are going to be working from home, whether home is in the suburbs of the U.S. or a beach hut somewhere tropical, you will need the following:

  • A quiet workspace. Hopefully, you have access to a room with a door because a quiet space is usually a more productive space! Somewhere that you can set up the right furniture – a desk and a comfortable chair. 
  • A laptop or desktop. Obviously, you will need some sort of computer to do your job
  • Reliable wifi. While reliable wifi might be more difficult to find if you are travelling the world, it is so important. A slow or unreliable connection can lead to dropped business calls and a ton of frustration. 
  • Headset. A headset is essential if you do a lot of zoom or skype meetings. This is especially true if you will be working from coffee shops or somewhere that you can’t use your laptop speakers and mic.
  • Task light. If you are working remotely and waking up for a zoom call in the middle of the night, a task light can be a better option than turning on the bright overhead lights.

Companies hiring for remote work positions

Do you want a job or a career that allows you the flexibility to work from home and from anywhere in the world? If so, there are a ton of great job sites you can check out that have plenty of companies remote hiring. Whether you want a position as a freelance writer, computer programmer, or a remote career in customer service, there’s a ton of remote work opportunities available. Start your search at some of these popular sites:

  • FlexJobs – We’ve written extensively about FlexJobs before — check out our review of the job-finding subscription service.
  • – This site focuses exclusively on remote jobs with opportunities from a variety of locations around the world. Jobs are hand-picked with the goal of avoiding scams and junk jobs. 
  • We Work Remotely – Get job postings emailed to you every day. 
  • Jobspresso – Browse job listings and share your resume. 
  • Power To Fly – This is a job site geared specifically toward women. You can easily search using a specific job title, company or keyword to find in-person or remote jobs in your field. You can also search for networking opportunities in your area.

Are you ready to start your remote search?

The work world is shifting. There are more and more companies allowing their employees to work from home and there are tons of organizations looking to hire for remote opportunities. Companies are now noticing that employees don’t need to be confined to a specific physical location in order to be efficient and productive. If you’ve been contemplating a remote career, now is a great time to start your job search so you can begin to experience all of the freedom and flexibility that comes with working remotely.

–By Jessica Martel

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