It seems simple enough. Remote work would appear to signify work done outside of an office. But there are so many different terms floating around regarding work flexibility that it’s important to know what each means. If you’re looking to hire a remote worker, you’ll need to be able to accurately describe the type of work environment that the person can expect. After reading through the following descriptions, ask yourself again: what’s your company’s definition of remote work?
A remote worker is someone who works outside of a traditional office. An employee might work from home, from a coffee shop, or from anywhere that is not a regular office; although depending on the type of job they do, they might find themselves going into an office on occasion (if the company’s hub is geographically close to them). A company might have a team of remote workers (i.e., a remote workforce) or a mix of both office workers and remote workers. So if you state that you’re looking for a remote worker in a job description, job seekers will assume that this is not an office job.
A distributed team means that your workers are not geographically near each other. That’s not to say, though, that some of them won’t find themselves working in a cubicle in one of your company’s satellite offices. For the most part, distributed teams are indeed comprised of remote workers, and are not tethered to a specific location. Keep in mind that some workers might prefer being part of a distributed team since they’ll most likely be working with other telecommuters, and this makes communication easier and more streamlined.
This is one of those terms that’s a catch-all for any company, since most organizations (remote or otherwise) use some form of tech in their everyday operations. It was first used in 2009 by Paul Miller of the Digital Workplace Group. A digital workplace is one that might host a company intranet as well as offering communication and collaboration tools to help its workforce get their jobs done. Some people will refer to the digital workplace as an “environment” or “ecosystem” unto itself, but that can be confusing since that can imply an actual space (i.e., an office), which is usually not the case with remote work.
Ultimately, what your company’s definition of remote work will be depends largely on your own practices and policies. But having some insight into the terminology and associations with the terms remote worker, distributed team, and digital workplace can aid you in writing strong job descriptions that accurately depict your company and the position you’re hiring for, and will help you attract the best talent possible.