While we are adjusting to the new world of work, we’re finding changes and adjustments in every nook and cranny. We’re creating new best practices every day in order to cope, including a new language.
While adjusting to working from home, we hear three terms being thrown around all the time: remote, working from home (WFH), and distributed. It’s finally the time to explain what’s the difference between them and what do they mean—especially when it comes to company policies.
Work from home
This category is probably the simplest to define. “Work from home” (WFH) literally means work from your home, your domestic paradise, whatever you want to call it—as opposed to a physical shared office space. “Working from home” usually refers to a policy for companies with traditional physical offices, wherein employees can occasionally work from home while primarily working from the physical office.
Many companies have implemented “work from home” policies during this period, implying that this is temporary—and that they haven’t adjusted to a fully-remote model.
In the work world, “remote” has two contexts: remote work and fully-remote teams.
“Remote work” is working outside of the physical office, but not necessarily at home. You can work remotely from wherever you’d like, no questions asked. Remote-friendly offices are those where you don’t have to come to the office five days/week, but rather have flexibility. It can be in remote organizations for example, that are fully-distributed in central locations. Remote work can be done at a coffee shop, shared space, or your neighborhood bench if you’re feeling adventurous.
“Fully-remote” teams are teams lacking a central office, though they may have access to satellite coworking spaces.
Remote workers don’t work from an actual office, but also don’t necessarily work for a fully-distributed organization.
Unlike remote work or work from home, all “distributed” means is that a team isn’t sitting in the same office, but are spread out—whether across separate satellite offices or apartment buildings.
“Fully distributed” means there is no central main office, but employees still work together.
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Remote work, distributed workforces, work from home—so what?
The way we used to live is transforming in many ways. Whether you’re working from home, working remotely, or working as a distributed workforce, these terms will become more and more common in our daily reality. It’s important that you’ll be able to know the subtle differences.