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What is a remote job?

A remote job is any job you perform for an organization from a location that is different from your organization's site. Remote work is a general term that encompasses various 'categories' of work models.

What is the difference between "remote," "telecommuting," "work from home," "hybrid," "remote-friendly," or "remote first"? It is important to understand the distinction between all of these terms because the types of remote jobs advertised do not only instruct about the types of roles that are concerned, but also about the organization's culture and its strategy.

I am going to introduce you to all these differences and highlight the advantages of each of them. I have listed the main 6 categories of remote work models, starting with the models that are the most remote, which allow you to work remotely all - or most - of the time, and finishing with the models that are the least remote, which only allow for a limited amount of remote work.

  • 1) 100% remote work: A fully remote job. With this type of job, you are generally required to work from home (or co-working space, but here I will use the word 'home' to simplify). That being said, some organizations will allow you to work from the office if desired. This kind of role has been in place since the years 2000 and the rise of the internet. 100% remote replaces the old term 'telecommuting job', first coined in 1972 by Jack Nilles, who was working remotely on a complex NASA communication system.

  • 2) Temporarily remote job: You will do a job fully remotely, but only for a specific time. This type of model happened a lot during the pandemic when, to keep functioning, organizations had to become flexible and allow their usual office-based employees to work from home until it gets better.

  • 3) Remote first job: You are not required to work from the physical office. Remote is the default culture of the organization. In remote-first organizational cultures, team members generally all work remotely. A significant difference between a remote-first job and a 100% remote job is that with a remote-first job, you will most likely still have physical get-togethers happening with your colleagues once in a while. Some examples of remote-first companies include Airbnb, Yelp, Calm, and Dropbox.

  • 4) Hybrid remote work: This model usually offers a mix of in-office and at-home work. Employees generally have the possibility to choose where they prefer to work from. Its principle is based on the idea that employees can choose to work from where they are most productive. Every organization will have a slightly different definition of hybrid remote work, so it is always important to check this out.

  • 5) Remote-friendly job: A job that an employee is allowed to perform remotely part of the time but that will be mainly performed from the office. For instance, you may work one to two days per week from home. In general, remote-friendly strategies have their set of challenges, especially around career development. Yes, you may choose to work from home two days a week, but because the culture is office-based, you may also miss out when you do so. It is an important consideration to keep in mind. Some examples of remote-friendly companies include Amazon and Microsoft.

  • 6) Office-first job: This is the exact opposite of a remote-first job. In office-first types of jobs, the office is the primary workplace. The organization will still offer some possibilities to do remote work. The same challenges as with "remote-friendly jobs" may occur in this configuration. Because remote is not the default, you may miss out on some opportunities if you decide to go remote.

This concludes the list of remote job models you may encounter.

So, what is the right type of remote job model for you?

Are you looking for a 100% remote job type so you can have more flexibility with your kids and save on gas or bus tickets but maybe miss out on some physical connection with your colleagues daily?

Or do you prefer a hybrid type of remote job that offers you the possibility to either work from home, the office, or else, but without having the certainty that you are going to meet people when you travel to the office?

Or maybe you prefer the remote-friendly model type, if meeting your colleagues at the office nearly every day is essential to you, and having the possibility to stay home once in a while, even if that means less flexibility and risk missing out on important stuff when you are away from the office?

One of the first exercises I recommend to the individuals I coach is to assess their motivations and the lifestyle they desire. Doing so is the first step to helping you make the right choice.

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