Work from home vs telecommuting

Work From Home vs Telecommuting

The phrase ‘telecommuting’ is often grouped with the separate term ‘remote work’, causing confusion as to what it really entails. In addition, telecommuting is commonly associated with an endless list of synonyms and juxtaposed terms:

  • Distributed work
  • Mobile work
  • Virtual work
  • Off-site work

What any of these phrases truly mean can vary depending on the context. Both managers and employees tend to use them interchangeably, where sometimes the terms apply to certain scenarios. However, ‘remote’ is typically the overarching term for work conducted outside the office. Often, work from home is thrown into the mix as well.

Prior to their recent growth in the business world, these phrases were generally less prevalent in our vocabulary. But now that remote working is the norm, it’s important to understand the associated terminology more closely.

Fortunately, in this article we will detail everything you need to know about the differences between working from home, telecommuting, and office work.

How is work from home different to telecommuting?

Work from home and telecommuting both refer to arrangements where operations take place outside of a conventional office environment. However, work from home is characterised by independent professionals who are stationed at home and working for different companies.

Telecommuting, on the other hand, simply means that an employee is clocking in from another location instead of travelling to a central workplace. For interest’s sake, telework sets itself apart by referring specifically to the practice of ‘bringing work to workers’. Its main aim is therefore to eliminate or reduce unnecessary commutes.

With that in mind, our focus is to explain and measure the differences between telecommuting and working from home.

Comparing work from home vs telecommuting

So, to reiterate, people who work from home are typically freelancers, independent contractors, or entrepreneurs. For example, someone who runs a home-based childminder service or salon can fall into the work from home bracket. The same is true for anyone who works for (multiple) different businesses from home on a contract basis.

In contrast, telecommuters are only employed at one company. These businesses usually adopt this type of working arrangement to reduce expenses and allow their staff more freedom and flexibility. As a rule, jobs can fit into the telecommuting category if they don’t require any special technology or equipment. Here we go into more depth, and share five differences between the telecommuting and work from home:


If you’re working from home, typically you’ll have the ability to determine your own compensation rates. You can also set your own schedules and take on jobs as you desire.

This is unlike telecommuting, where your contract determines you’re paid a set salary. Moreover, you must follow the working hours and any other requirements set by your employer. You may also be required to attend the central office occasionally.


While telecommuting might not offer as much freedom, it has the upper hand when it comes to equipment. Professionals who work from home may need to purchase their own hardware and software to carry out their daily tasks. They must also possess the required expertise and experience, as they won’t receive on-the-job training.

Employees in telecommuting positions will be provided with all the resources they need by their manager. Your employer may also offer some form of training to support you in your role. These factors can potentially make it more affordable than working from home.


Most telecommuting jobs rely heavily on the use of multiple devices and other modern technology. This could include laptops, smartphones, project management software, and collaboration tools like video calling. For instance, consider all the equipment a customer service representative would require. A strong, constant internet connection would be paramount to ensuring they can do their job.

However, with work from home jobs, technology might not be necessary at all, but evidently it depends on the nature of the work. One thing that most individuals who work from home require is a sizable office space from which to conduct their business. But they may not always need an internet connection, such as with a home-based beauty salon that’s well-known locally.


Work from home and telecommuting are each established by their unique principles and strategies. Many organisations who implement telecommuting arrangements do so with the goal of cutting costs and downsizing its workforce. It’s also beneficial for staff because this work style saves money otherwise spent on clothing, food, and travel.

Business owners and contractors who work from home tend to be less focused on reducing expenses, as everything is already set in their personal environment. They avoid bearing the financial burdens of paying for an office or premises, commuting to it, and facilitating staff and equipment. Convenience and freedom go hand in hand with this entrepreneurial style of working.


Finally, the rules and requirements that you’re obligated to follow are different between the two work styles. Telecommuting employees must adhere to those laid out by their employer or organisation. It’s also important that they strive to exceed or deliver KPIs as per the expectations set forth by their company.

The opposite is the case for professionals who work from home. It’s up to them to set the guidelines and procedures that will ensure the highest chances of success. The rules you follow when working from home tend to exist more in your mind than on paper. The exception stands with freelance work, as you may sign some binding contracts before starting.

To sum it up, both working from home and telecommuting offer similar benefits.

Where one might have an advantage over the other, it’s usually balanced out in another aspect. For example, working from home can be less restrictive, but telecommuting offers more structure and stability. At the end of the day, your experience telecommuting is largely what you make of it.

Tips for telecommuting and working from home

Whether you’re settling into your new telecommuting position or you’re running a business from home, we have compiled some tips to help you stay productive, motivated, and successful.

Establish Your Workspace

One of the major concerns that come with telecommuting from home is maintaining your work-life balance. For some people, the line between home and work can become very blurry, which can negatively affect both areas. That’s why you should set clear guidelines for yourself concerning your home workspace.

If you’re accustomed to working at an office, you’ll understand that the separation is physical. Therefore, it should remain that way as much as possible in your new environment. Having a designated workspace will help you stay focused and efficient while allowing you to disconnect and unwind when necessary. Here are some home office guidelines to consider:

  • Aim to have natural light entering the space
  • Buy a comfortable and ergonomic chair
  • Eliminate any non-work distractions
  • Keep your desk clean and organised

Define Your Hours

Just as you allocate and separate your workspace, you should have clearly defined business hours. Following a routine helps you stay consistent and will prepare you for the transition back to a normal office, especially if you’re returning soon. Also, if you’re part of a team, sticking to the same schedule as your colleagues makes everything easier.

Handle Distractions

Another leading challenge with working from home is dealing with the endless wave of distractions that surround us. Now more than ever, you may be compelled to turn on the news or have long video calls with friends and family. While it’s unreasonable to cut these activities out entirely, it’s certainly beneficial to dedicate specific times for them.

You may also want to have separate devices to separate your work from your personal use. This of course only applies if you have the luxury of an extra budget for your business.

Stay in Touch

Communication is vital to successful work from home and telecommuting operations. Aside from making sure to regularly socialise where you can, it’s also important to maintain communication with your manager and team. There should be a plan that lays out when and how to check-in so that you can discuss projects and concerns.

Create Policies

Similarly, employers must draw up policies and procedures to help teams effectively navigate the challenges of telecommuting. You may want to research the policy plans of companies that are successful in this regard. It’s also a good idea to consult business operations experts, as they can keep you aware of key rules and regulations.

When drafting your policy, be sure to account for the permanence of your telecommuting arrangements. This can assist with determining who can continue working from home on a temporary or permanent basis, and which employees are necessary in an internal capacity. You should also outline how team members will approach work. Ask questions like:

  • Are there any factors which may affect performance when telecommuting?
  • Do any roles require changes to the job description?
  • Which resources need to be provided to remote workers?
  • How will you maintain open lines of communication?
  • What can you do to ensure engagement and collaboration?

Leverage Remote Assistance

Many organisations that transition to telecommuting arrangements find that their in-house IT department lacks the resources and expertise required to deliver remote support. This demands the need for external assistance, which can be provided by remote IT support in London. These services can benefit your company in numerous ways:

  • Affordable access to experienced specialists
  • Ability to use cutting-edge hardware and software
  • Technicians are available at all times to address any issues
  • Internal staff can stay focused on core business functions
  • Set pricing structures make costs more predictable
  • Improved compliance and security
  • Less downtime means higher productivity

Take Care of Yourself

With the kitchen only a few steps away, working from home presents an ideal opportunity to prepare healthy meals in place of the usual office brunch. No less crucial is maintaining sufficient sleep and regular exercise. Taking care of your mental and physical health can make a world of a difference to your focus and productivity during business hours.

Understanding Remote Work

So, we know what telecommuting and working from home entails. But where does remote work fit in?

After all, it tends to be the most widely used term to describe any arrangement where work is done outside of the office. Despite that, the origins of the phrase are unclear. Some sources assert that remote work was first used to describe workers using internet technologies to clock in from any location.

Unlike telecommuting, there isn’t any emphasis on the employer-employee relationship. Contractors and freelancers are considered remote workers and today, the term broadly refers to various flexible and telecommuting operations. That means remote work can take place at home, in cafes, or co-working spaces. Essentially, anywhere with a network connection can count as a remote workplace.

Remote Work vs Office Work

So, how does remote work, be it in the form of telecommuting or working from home, compare to traditional office work? Here we conclude by comparing the two arrangements in the context of some key aspects of working:


Inevitably, one of the main advantages of remote work is that it will reduce both time and money spent on travelling. This arrangement may also offer mental health benefits as you’re no longer dealing with the stresses of commuting.

However, some people prefer the routine of waking up early and having the separation between home and office. That’s why many remote employees head to a coffee shop or shared workspace. But the bottom line is that nobody enjoys commuting.


With the exception of video conferencing, face-to-face interactions are brought to a minimum when working from home. This is another reason why remote workers head out during business hours. We know that in-person discussions are vital when it comes to building relationships and collaborating effectively.

Businesses need to consider this when establishing communication methods and technologies amongst remote teams. It’s not uncommon for organisations to host game nights and other social events to help maintain relationships in the face of distanced collaboration.


Working in traditional office environments naturally leads to stricter scheduling and a stronger overall structure. Whether or not the freedom of remote work is better depends on individual preferences. Some employees struggle to disconnect or stay focused when working from home, while others enjoy being able to set their own hours.


As we discussed earlier, remote work has numerous cost-saving benefits for both employers and employees. There are many financial perks to working from home, and you’ll likely be less inclined to go out after work, therefore saving some of your hard-earned money.

Granted, there are some additional costs to consider. This may include broadband costs and higher utility bills. You’ll also need to invest in telecommuting technologies and other materials in your office space.

What’s next

It stands to reason that there’s no clear winner across the different working arrangements that are available today. What best suits you or your business depends on individual circumstances and preferences.

What we’ve outlined are just some of the key differences between working from home and telecommuting. For more insights on how technology can enable your team to work remotely or how to implement a secure WFH and telecommuting workforce, get in touch with the totality services team and we’ll be happy to help.