With the majority of the working population in the UK now set up to work remotely, or from home, there has been an assumption that working from home and working remotely are one and the same thing. But they are actually not the same, and have quite different definitions, not to mention ways of operating, with public health restrictions impacting very differently on each model.

Is remote working the same as working from home?

We’ll take a look at both remote and home working, definitions, differences and implications for technology going forward.

Definitions of home and remote working

  • Homeworking simply means, ‘doing your job from home’. Homeworking can be part or full time and just means doing some or all of your hours, not in the office, but in your home; using home as an administrative base for your job. 
  • Remote working means working outside of any traditional working environment. Work tasks, goals and projects are all undertaken anywhere remotely. Remote working can include homeworking and means any non-traditional premises that are outside of any typical ‘work commute’.

Differences between home and remote working

With homeworking, workers are likely to be set up in a semi-permanent, ‘fixed’ type of situation, with perhaps a laptop, or a home desktop computer. Access to and security of systems has probably been enabled by the organisation’s IT department, to the appropriate cyber security and organisational protocols.

A homeworker may have fixed times they are online, contactable and operationally present, and if not, the protocols to communicate this information to their line manager and team.

The most likely impact for a homeworker due to the pandemic is likely to have been a move from being, the majority of the time, an office worker with a daily commute, to now working the majority, if not all working hours from a home environment.

When we think of a homeworker, we imagine them at home for their working day, putting a wash on in their breaktime and dashing out between meetings to pick the kids up from school.

Although homeworking actually is a form of remote working, when we think of a remote worker, we are more likely to picture someone who travels to coworking spaces, to other cities, perhaps working in hotel lobbies, airport lounges and cafes. Remote workers are not usually tied by their organisation to work physically at home, and if it’s their own business, it might be one that operates solely via remote functions.

Remote businesses have taken a hit

Many contemporary remote businesses, built entirely on remote ways of working have been significantly hit by the pandemic restrictions. Flying to different cities, building wide people-networks, working across spaces, regions and countries and communicating in person and remotely on the go has naturally had its curtailments.

For remote business owners, staying within the same four walls with the laptop never moving from the end of the kitchen table are more likely to be employing the up-to-date apps and tech for conferencing, instant messaging, and collaborating and communicating in different ways on files and systems.

Remote workers are more likely to require and have more extensive knowledge regarding work collaboration and communication apps. Whereas homeworkers are likely to just know and deal with the platforms and systems utilised by their employer company.

With less time travelling, and more time to spend on their businesses and tasks, remote workers are said to have the potential to drive the demand for evermore advanced remote ways of working. And whilst the homeworkers may be fairly settled with the tech they are currently using, any advancements made in remote working applications will have a beneficial knock-on effect for them too.