What are Remote Jobs?

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Written By Andrew Shannon

I think that it is safe to say that most most people wish they had remote jobs.  There are plenty of reasons to want a remote job – such as finding a career suitable for living as a digital nomad, getting out of a hellish daily commute, or simply improving work life integration

Most people have heard or seen the statistics regarding the growth of remote jobs (apparently they’re up 160% since 2005).  In total, 22% of workers say that they work at least part of the time remote. Think about that. Nearly one in four people work remote at least part time.

That’s not a small number, and it makes it all the more confusing why it’s such a difficult process to find a remote job.

While it is difficult to find remote work, I believe that it is the future of work.  We just need to wait until most of the “legacy industries” discover the benefits of allowing their employees to work remote.  I have a feeling that once they understand the cost savings of only having required employees in the office, they will begin to adopt more remote friendly work practices.

Though, I’ll digress before i go off on some long winded tangent.

While it is difficult to find remote jobs, and there is generally more competition for the positions that do exist – It is not impossible to find one.  I will detail exactly what is required to find the best remote jobs. Everything from a thorough definition of what remote work is, to the common skills and industries offering work.  Including the best resources for finding remote work, advice on how you can improve your odds of landing an interview, and how to succeed during the remote interview.

What is a remote job?

The short answer is: Any job that is not tied to a physical office is a remote job. Remote work is usually accomplished using an internet connection and a computer.

Now, if you have spent any time looking for remote jobs you have likely come across additional terms such as telecommuting, flexible schedules (flex jobs), and work from home jobs. These terms are all closely related, but are not necessarily the same thing.

Telecommuting dates back to when people used phones to conduct the majority of their business.  Generally, today it is used to indicate a job that works some, or all of their hours from home – but usually in the same geographical area as the company’s office.  

Keep in mind, that when you are hunting for remote jobs, it may be best to pass over such positions if you want full location independence.  However, if you are willing to work remote from the same geographic area as the employer it is worth pursuing telecommuting jobs.

Flexible Schedule jobs (also commonly referred to as flex jobs) are jobs that generally offer employees the ability to choose when and how much they work.  The main benefit to this category of job is that they allow you to prioritize your needs and responsibilities (such as child or elderly care).

It is possible that a flex job can be a remote job, but it also may be more closely related to a telecommuting job. Be mindful of this during your search, and check what it explicitly states in the job post.

Work from home jobs are typically one and the same with remote jobs.  BUT they may also be telecommuting jobs, or flex jobs where you must be located in the same geographical location as the employer.  Again, it is important to be mindful of this during your search.

In addition to the terms above, there are a few more things that you should look out for when you are searching for a remote job. The first being how distributed the company is.

What is a distributed workforce?

Another important remote term is distributed workforce.  Companies can be fully distributed, or partially distributed, or not at all.  If a company is fully distributed, it usually means that all of the employees work remote.  If they are partially distributed, it is likely that the company has an office space somewhere that is either optional, or for certain positions.  This varies by company.

Find Your Motivator

One of the most important skills for working remote is being able to be motivated to work. It is more closely related to being an individual entrepreneur than a traditional office job in that you need to push yourself.  You won’t have anyone checking in on you and your work.  When you’re a remote employee, the only one telling you to work is you.

Generally, the best remote workers are those that truly love, and believe in what they are doing, and don’t worry if you struggle with this, you can learn.  The Muse has a great article titled 7 ways to get motivated.

On top of this there are many pros and cons regarding remote work. Below we will cover some of the most common.

The pros of remote work

  1. The ability to work when and where you want!  Ever wanted to work from the beach (be sure to get a keyboard protector to keep the sand out if you’re a macbook pro user), your kitchen island, or your favorite coffee shop?  Or maybe you just want to sleep in. I think you understand what I am getting at.
  2. Savings!  Yes, really – you no longer have to commute.  That means you can pocket the cost of gas. You’ll also find yourself saving on breakfast and lunch costs.  You’ll feel less guilty taking that second drink while you’re working at your favorite cafe.
  3. No office, no politics…or distractions!  If you’ve spent any time in an office environment, you know what I’m talking about.  Remote companies tend to lean more toward being mission focused rather than wasting time on politics.  It’s much easier to put your head down and grind when you’ve only got yourself

The cons of remote work

  1. Loneliness.  You’ve only got yourself (in person).  You’ll have to make a concerted effort both with your online colleagues, and offline environment to overcome this.  Maybe that means spending more time in a cafe, or picking up an extra class at the gym.
  2. Over or under working.  When working at home, it becomes difficult to separate work from home which can lead to overworking.  One way to combat this, is to set up a separate workspace (and avoid working in bed, unless you’re fond of committing sacrilege).  Similarly, if you rely on extrinsic motivation, your productivity will deteriorate when dropped into a remote environment.
  3. Limited in person interaction with your colleagues.  Partially distributed companies tend to suffer the most on this point.  The employees in the office take the office interpersonal interaction for granted leading to feelings of seclusion enveloping the remote workforce.

There are plenty of other points that could be added to the pros and cons list above, but these highlight the main benefits, and problems with working remote.  The problems can be overcome, but it requires conscious effort. It also depends on the type of person you are. Some people can be ok not seeing, and interacting, while for others it’s an essential part of their working life.


To recap, we covered what differs between remote jobs and telecommuting, flex jobs, and working from home jobs.  We dove into why it’s important to be able to motivate yourself to as a remote worker, highlighted the difference between fully distributed, and partially distributed companies, and covered the most common pros and cons.

In the next post we will dive into the common jobs and industries in remote work.