What Is a Remote Job? Ultimate Guide to Remote Work for 2024

27 December 2023
9 min read
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In 2022, remote jobs are more popular than ever. 

Employees love them because they provide them with a more flexible schedule, a better work-life balance, and a chance to save up more. Employers, on the other hand, reap the benefits of lower employee turnover and company-wide productivity.

As such, it should be no surprise that more and more companies are hiring remote workers worldwide!

That said, although popular, remote jobs are still a relatively new phenomenon. As such, it’s totally normal if you still have some questions about them. 

For example, are remote jobs perfect for all careers? Or, can someone without experience land a remote job? 

Luckily, we’re here to break it all down for you. Here is what this remote job guide will cover: 

  • What Is a Remote Job?
  • Why Is Remote Work Popular?
  • Benefits and Challenges of Remote Jobs
  • Types of Remote Jobs

And much more. So let’s dive right in! 

What Is a Remote Job? 

A remote job is a job that doesn’t take place inside the workplace (i.e. a traditional office job). 

But does this mean that a remote job allows you to work from anywhere you want? 

Well, not really. The overwhelming majority of remote job listings still require remote workers to be based in a certain location, whereas very few remote positions (about 5%, according to a FlexJobs study) truly allow employees to work from wherever they feel like. 

Specifically, employers want the remote workers who’ll be out of the office to be based in a specific state, country, region, or time zone for several reasons, including: 

  • Legal and tax laws
  • Availability for on-site meetings or training
  • Proximity to clients
  • Professional licensing

In this regard, remote jobs that are location-specific usually fall into one of the following categories: 

  • Global, country-specific jobs, which per the company’s needs are based in different countries worldwide.
  • City, or state-based jobs, which require employees to be based in a specific city or US state
  • US national jobs, which allow employees to work from anywhere in the US.

On the other hand, fully remote positions are jobs that can be done from literally anywhere in the world - whether you’re based in the USA or China.

Benefits and Challenges of Remote Jobs 

Just like everything else, remote jobs also have their benefits and drawbacks.

We’ve already mentioned some of the major benefits, like increased productivity and better work-life balance, but the list doesn’t end there. 

But do the benefits of remote work outweigh its challenges? Here’s a more detailed look: 

Benefits of Remote Jobs

  • Decreased turnover. An Owl Labs study found that 80% of respondents would be more loyal to their company if it offered more flexible working hours - a big advantage for businesses, which lose 1.5-2 times the employee's salary when they lose an employee.
  • Reduced absenteeism. Absenteeism involves the practice of calling off work for no good reason. With the majority of employees feeling happier when working remotely, the rate of absenteeism is significantly lower.
  • Timeliness. Working remotely saves employees time, which they can effectively dedicate to work. Think, less time commuting, waiting in life for morning coffee, or even oversleeping. The ability to get out of bed, do a morning routine, and start working is a time-saver and a huge plus for remote work.
  • Cost savings. Remote work saves both employers' and employees' money. Companies, for example, get to save money on office rent, utilities, and other office supplies. Workers, on the other hand, get to save money on commuting, eating lunch outside, and other day-to-day expenses that come with working at an office.
  • Flexibility. Flexibility to work whenever and wherever is definitely one of the biggest benefits of remote jobs. Even if a position is country/state-specific, you can still work wherever you want within that state - your home, your favorite cafe, etc. The same goes for working hours, especially when if it’s the type of job that doesn’t require that you adhere to a strict 9-5 working schedule.
  • Improved workplace technology. Many companies were “forced” to update their tools and software systems when the COVID-19 pandemic hit to accommodate remote work for their employees (business messaging software, video conferencing platforms, team and task management systems, cybersecurity tools, etc.). This investment helped even the more “traditional” companies join today’s advanced tech world.
  • Recruiting and hiring advantages. According to a study by the International Workplace Group (IWG), 64% of recruiters say that pitching work-from-home policies allows them to find more qualified candidates. This is not surprising, considering the majority of today’s workforce reports they prefer a working arrangement that allows remote work at least partially (e.g. a few days a week).

Challenges of Remote Jobs

  • Isolation and loneliness. On the other side of the coin, many remote workers report feeling isolated (especially if they live alone). Remote workers miss out on all the in-person social interactions that come with office work, such as talking to colleagues or other people during their daily commutes.
  • Distractions at home. Working from home has its own set of challenges, with distractions being the most common. Whether it’s screaming children, a needy pet, or any other distraction, having a home office can get overwhelming if you don’t address any such issues.
  • Inability to log out. For many people, remote work can lead to a disruption in their work-life balance. This usually comes as a result of not being able to log out at the end of the work day, replying to emails or opening your work laptop even after the workday has ended, or not setting clear boundaries with yourself and your colleagues on when you’re available.
  • Communication issues. Communication can really suffer when it depends mainly on test messaging. A colleague may entirely misunderstand what you’re trying to tell them in the absence of face-to-face communication, which is why over-communicating while working remotely is super important.
  • Cybersecurity concerns. Any company or organization cares about its data protection - and especially so if most of its operations get done online. According to a 2020 Work From Home cybersecurity report, malware, phishing, unauthorized user and device access, and unpatched systems were among the highest work-from-home risks.
  • Unreliable tech. Most of us have had trouble at least once due to unreliable tech or an unstable internet connection. When it comes to working remotely and depending on your internet and devices to keep you connected with your colleagues, though, unreliable technology can really be a drawback.

How Do Remote Jobs Work? 

For remote work to be successful for both companies and their employees, it requires a mixture of things, including the right company culture, up-to-date technology, and reliable remote work tools. 

While these can mean different things for different companies, an effective and successful remote workforce usually shares some essential characteristics, such as: 

  • Easy and practical communication tools. Although physically apart, remote workers need to be able to work with each other as if they were sharing an office. This requires safe, secure, and highly qualitative platforms and applications for chatting, video-conferencing, file-sharing, and other business-specific needs.
  • Reliable connectivity. As we already mentioned, virtual teams rely heavily on fast internet, mobile technology, and industry-specific software and hardware to do their jobs remotely. Often, it’s the company or organization that provides such tech - especially bigger organizations with 100+ employees.
  • A healthy culture. Successful remote teams typically share cultures of trust, teamwork, and result-oriented work (instead of focusing on whether each employee is putting in all the work hours). Typically, a healthy remote work culture consists of a supportive management team that believes in this work style and seeks to empower employees to be successful in it.

Remote Jobs Best Practices For Employers 

So, how can you make remote work, work? 

Here are the top best practices you can follow to make remote work a success regardless of the size of your company, industry, or field of work: 

  • Team buildings. It’s important that a team feels like a team - even if its members are working remotely. Typically, it’s up to management to make sure that teams are communicating and collaborating effectively while working remotely. Organizing and holding in-person team buildings every now and then is a great way to do that. And, if that’s not possible, you can always organize non-work-related virtual meetings where team members can hop in, talk to each other, share what’s been going on with their lives outside of work, and even have a drink while doing so.
  • Employee training. Employees are happier and more motivated when they feel their work offers them enough opportunities to grow professionally. As such, it’s important not to overlook employee training and development when they’re working remotely. Many companies, for example, have a dedicated training budget that allows employees to attend online courses and professional development classes online.
  • Remote work guidelines and policies. Healthy remote work culture is often grounded on clear guidelines and policies. Knowing when they’re expected to be online and for how long, how their performance is measured, or what applications and software are approved for business use can really help employees work effectively.
  • Top-notch technologies. Companies with a predominantly remote workforce invest in the technologies required for employees to do their jobs effectively. Such technologies typically include reliable and easy-to-use software and hardware, high-speed internet, and other industry-specific needs.

Types of Remote Jobs 

There are several ways to categorize remote jobs, starting from where they require employees to be located to how many hours they can actually work remotely. 

Now, when it comes to the amount of time you can actually work remotely within a week, remote jobs are divided as follows: 

  • 100% remote jobs. As the name implies, these jobs are fully remote and allow you to work from home (or any other place) all the time, without ever needing to go to the office or travel anywhere.
  • Hybrid remote jobs. Hybrid remote positions require that you go to the office at least a few times a week, or in a month.
  • Option for remote work. These jobs allow workers to work from home, go into the office - or alternate between the two.

Remote jobs are also categorized based on their schedule or the type of contract under which you’ll be working. 

For example, when it comes to schedules, some remote jobs will require you to work during official working hours (i.e. the standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or a company-specific schedule). 

Other remote positions may require that you’re online during core hours - which usually include a block of three to five hours daily, during which most employees are also working. Alternatively, there are remote jobs that allow a completely flexible schedule. In such cases, you can set your working hours, as long as you can meet deadlines and deliver quality work. 

Last but not least, you can be a full-time remote employee or a freelance contractor when you’re working remotely. 

A full-time remote employee acts exactly the same as a normal office worker, except for the fact that they work online. They have a set work schedule, receive standard benefits, work 5 days a week, and so on.

Freelancers, on the other hand, are remote contractors who aren’t legally defined as employees. Freelancers are responsible for their own benefits and taxes, as well as setting their own schedules. 

15 Top Careers for Remote Work

You might be really excited about working remotely, but not all career fields will allow you to do so. 

Although the number of careers with remote job availability is constantly growing, some fields definitely have the upper hand.

Curious what they are? Here are the top 15 careers for remote work in 2024: 

  1. Computer/IT
  2. Customer Service
  3. Accounting and Finance
  4. Project Management
  5. Marketing and digital marketing
  6. Sales
  7. Mortgage and Real Estate
  8. Medical and Health
  9. Education and Training
  10. Chat Support
  11. Logistics
  12. Counseling
  13. Voice Over Jobs
  14. Communications
  15. Social Work Jobs

Should I Work From Home? 

Remote jobs sound ideal, especially in theory. You get to work where you choose, take more frequent breaks, improve the balance between work and personal life, etc. 

However, in practice, remote jobs just aren’t for everyone. Many workers report feeling lonely and isolated, while others have issues staying productive or drawing the lines between work and their personal lives. 

Are you curious whether a remote job is a right choice for you? There are two ways to find out. 

One is obviously to give it a try and see how it works out. If you don’t have the luxury just to try out a job and quit if it doesn’t work out, though, then answer the following questions to get an idea of how compatible your lifestyle is with remote work:

  • Will I be motivated to work even when a manager/supervisor isn’t present?
  • Do I have frequent medical or other appointments that are easier to attend from home?
  • Do I have parental, familial, or personal obligations that are easier to take care of from home?
  • Will I feel/become isolated or lonely if I am not working in an office environment?
  • Am I at my most productive during traditional business hours or when I’m working earlier or later than the usual start of a business day?
  • Am I new to this job/field and counting on hands-on experience or training from my coworkers?

Key Takeaways 

And that’s a wrap on everything you need to know about remote jobs! 

Before you go, here are the main points we covered in this article: 

  • A remote job is a job that doesn’t take place inside the workplace (i.e. a traditional office job).
  • The overwhelming majority of remote job listings still require remote workers to be based in a certain location (in a specific country or city), whereas very few remote positions are entirely remote.
  • Remote work is so popular because it allows more effective talent acquisition for employers as well as increased job satisfaction and better work-life balance for employees.
  • Some other advantages of remote jobs include decreased employee turnover, reduced absenteeism, cost savings, and improved workplace technology.
  • Some of the challenges of remote work for employees are isolation and loneliness, inability to log out, and unreliable technology.
  • For a remote workforce to be effective and successful, companies need to provide easy and practical communication tools, reliable connectivity, and healthy company culture.