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What’s the difference? Remote, Freelance, Part-Time, Hybrid, and Flexible Job

Are you ready to trade in your traditional 9-to-5 job for an alternative work model? The timing has never been better to be a "digital nomad." One silver lining to the COVID -19 virus is that it has taught businesses how to become more agile and workers how to be flexible in their work.

Our New World of Work survey showed that 56.5% of companies plan to have at least some of their workforce work remotely permanently. Tremendous advances in technology and tools to facilitate remote working has paved the way for a seamless transition from office to home.

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If you’re looking for a job that offers a “lifestyle advantage” (remote work and flexibility are in high demand in the current market), you should know what the buzzwords mean before you jump in. They may all sound like ways to improve your work-life balance, but they come with clear expectations and their own pros and cons.

Let’s look at some new ways of working that might be on the table when looking at job ads and what they mean.

What is remote work?

The term “remote work” usually means working outside of a traditional office. With remote work, you don’t have to commute to an office. You can complete projects and communicate with your team – even lead a team – without being in the same room. All you need is a reliable internet connection and a laptop. You’ll have a secure workplace and a company benefits package worth thousands of dollars per year. 

However, don’t assume that a remote work job posting comes with flexibility. Many companies require remote workers to use time tracking tools to ensure they’re at their desks during regular working hours.

Telecommuting (which you may see referred to as home-based jobs or virtual work) deserves a side note. This term is not commonly used today, but it’s similar to remote work. A telecommuter usually works in the same geographic region as the company but spends some or all of their hours at home. They may come into the office occasionally as needed. On the other hand, remote work can technically take place on a different continent from the company’s headquarters.

Remote work seems perfect for some people, while others get bored and frustrated. Before you blindly dive into remote work job boards, take the time to think about whether you might enjoy working from home. You don’t have to give up remote work entirely. Many companies offer remote workers the opportunity to work in a coworking space.

What is freelance work?

Many people think that remote work and freelance work are the same things. But they’re not. Remote work is a permanent job or contract. Freelance work is project-based and ends when the project is completed.

Freelance work has many advantages. You can set your hours and have the freedom to work at your own pace. You can choose your clients, select the type of projects you want to work on, and work wherever you want. Plus, you’re not bound by constraints like job agreements or revenue sharing that force many people to stay with one company longer than they’d like to.

It sounds rosy, but freelance work is not for you if you’re not ready to become your own boss. There’s no job security, no benefits, no sick leave, and you’ll have to buy all your work equipment. Before applying for freelance work, ask yourself, “Can I afford to freelance?”

What is part-time work?

Full-time vs part-time work – what’s the difference? Part-time work means you work a smaller number of hours per week (less than full-time). The number of days you work in a week and the number of hours you work in an average day are generally considered “part-time” if they are less than 30 hours. Part-time employees receive the same employment benefits as full-time employees, with benefits prorated based on hours worked.

Not every job is suitable for part-time work. Before applying for a part-time job, find the one that matches your preferences and skills. Pay attention to your salary and if you have flexibility in your work hours. A part-time job can be either shift work or on your own schedule.

What is a flexible job?

Flexible working means that you don’t have to work for a set number of hours in a day. When you work remotely with “flex terms”, you create your own flexible schedule that works for you. This way of working is common with remote teams working in different time zones. It can also mean working from the office for a set number of hours or in different time shifts. The biggest advantage of flexible working is that you have freedom and control over when, how, and where you work.

What is hybrid work?

The hybrid remote lifestyle is different from a pure remote work style. In a pure remote company, there may be no headquarters, and team members live and work in their chosen location. However, in a hybrid company, some employees work part of the time in the same place. In addition, some team members work from home. This is currently more common because it is easier for established companies to implement.

Remote employees in a hybrid remote company may commute to the office one week per month while working from a location of their choice the rest of the month.

What you should do before taking the job

While the differences between work options may be clear to you now, the company hiring you may have a more ambiguous perception of them. During the interview, get the hiring manager to clarify this through the questions you ask. 

For example, what does the company’s hybrid office look like, and how do current employees manage the transition between environments? What does a typical day look like for the team if the position is remote? 

With these questions, you open a dialogue about how they will use technology, how often you will communicate with your manager, and how you’ill collaborate with your teammates. You can also ask what the onboarding plan looks like, including training and getting to know your new work colleagues.

They may not have it all figured out yet. Should you take the job anyway? You may need to be patient and flexible. A company embarking on new ways of working will experiment with different strategies to meet employees’ needs while achieving company goals.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Thousands of employers have posted their job openings on the Workable job board.

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