Telecommuters, Freelancers, and Full-Time Remote Workers – Which is Right For Your Business?

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Are you looking into the Remote Economy and wondering what it all means for your company? Here's is a straightforward breakdown of the differences between telecommuters, full-time remote workers, and freelancers - and how to figure out which type is best for your company!

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report states that 43% of the US workforce now works off-site for at least a part of the work week. In fact, another report from the Telework Research Network (TRN) predicts that number is going to rise to 63% by this year.

With remote work gaining traction, businesses are already tapping into its myriad benefits. Just check out these case studies mentioned in the TRN report:

  •         American Express teleworkers brought in 43% more business than those working in-office.
  •         When Best Buy introduced a work flexibility program, their productivity increased by 35%.
  •         British Telecom reported an approximate increase of 20% in productivity due to telecommuting.


The benefits to the company are not limited to increased productivity. Companies like Cisco have reported savings of a staggering USD 277 million each year because of telecommuting.

Still, for many businesses, hiring remote remains an enigma. If you’re unsure of your remote hiring options, there are two actions you can take right now:

1. Head over to our contact page and tell us what kind of employee you need; we’ll get in touch and talk about your options.

2. Read on for the full breakdown of every type of remote worker, and find which ones might suit your business model.


Who are telecommuters?

Telecommuters are workers who work away from the office for a portion of the work week. They could work from their home or another place for a stipulated number of hours (or days). Note that employees who work from a client location or travel for work are teleworkers.

A current hiring trend is to offer at least 1-2 telecommute work days to employees. This kind of flexibility has become a perk increasingly sought by candidates.


Is telecommuting right for your business?

You may have heard of the backlash Yahoo faced for cutting its telecommuting program. And generally, you may have peers telling you remote is the way to go. But you still need to consider whether that’s going to work for your business.

Ever heard of telecommuting farmers? No? Likewise, some manufacturing jobs, B2C frontline service jobs (like food service), healthcare jobs, maintenance and security jobs aren’t quite suitable for telecommuting.

Yeah sure, there are restaurants in Japan that are fully staffed by robots. But unless that’s what you are going for, you need humans to come in and work…still.


A good gauge of whether a job is suitable for telecommuting is:

  1. Does it require equipment that can’t be easily bought or replicated? (As an example, almost every position in the IT industry can be done remotely, but the role of a Systems Engineer or Hardware Technician cannot. Similarly, medical technicians can rarely work outside of a laboratory. Neither computer servers nor laboratory equipment can be “taken home.”)
  2. Does it require direct interaction with other people? (Example, in-store shop assistants)


Did you reply with a hard-hitting “no” to both questions? Great! Telecommuting is likely an excellent choice for your business.

Of course, any creative job is a match for remote work.


The Limitations of telecommuting

With telecommuting, you’d expect your employees to work from office a few times a week. If that’s the case, you seriously need to consider why they can’t handle the job entirely remotely. What does working from office achieve at all?

From your business’ point of view, one of the main benefits of transitioning to remote work is cutting on real estate costs. If you still need the same office space and furniture, you aren’t taking full advantage of what remote work can offer.

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Who are freelancers?

Freelancers are the group of workers that has become synonymous with remote work. And there’s a good reason. According to the Freelancing in America 2017 report released by Freelancers Union and Upwork, freelancers presently make up 35% of the US workforce, and in a decade they will consist of more than 50% of US workers.

Freelancers may or may not come to the office for work. But they are usually temporary hires who work for a short period. They may solely work for your company or may take on another company’s work, concurrently.


Is freelancing right for your business?

There are obvious reasons why companies are rushing to work with freelancers: practically no paperwork, you don’t have to pay benefits (unless you wish to), you don’t have to offer sick days or leaves. Freelancers work by the hour and get paid for it.

And yet once again, you need to consider whether freelancers are the right choice for your business.

Freelancers earn either by the project or by the hour. Depending on the project length or how many hours they work, you can end up paying more for your freelancer than your full-time employee.

So if your business requires someone with specialized skills to work for a short time, then hiring freelancers is the best way to go. If, however, you need employees to work on similar projects for an extended period of time, it makes economic sense to have full-time remote employees.


The Limitations of freelancing

Freelancers often work for more than one company. It can end up being a distraction for them and can affect your business.

Freelancers are workers who get the work done – that’s great. But they are not familiar with the big picture of your company – its core values and philosophies, the rest of your teams. Hence, their contribution is limited.


Who are full-time remote workers?

There is a third type of remote workers, who are not as hyped as freelancers, and yet they bring businesses the best kinds of ROI – full-time remote workers.

In every respect, they are like regular employees who work from an office, except full-time remote employees work entirely off-site.

So if in the case of telecommuters you still need to have an office base, as a fully-remote company you can do away with all those formalities.


Is full-time remote work right for your business?

If you can carry out your company’s projects entirely online or on the cloud, then having a full-time remote workforce will bring you benefits in spades.

Full-time remote work isn’t ideal for some industries, like manufacturing or security – for the same reasons telecommuting isn’t. But apart from those few exceptions, every kind of collaboration can occur remotely.

Of course, it might need some adjustments on your part. But the tools necessary to help you create a mostly (or entirely) remote company already exist. It’s the matter of acclimatizing to the concept of fully-remote employees that might be the barrier.


The Limitations of full-time remote work

Unlike freelancers, fully-remote employees have all the rights of regular employees who work from an office. So if you thought cutting down on paperwork might be one of the perks of having full-time remote employees – no such luck.

Besides, if you’re hiring your remote team from any corner of the world, chances are they will want to keep their local timings, not work odd hours.

Both of those are problems DistantJob can help you solve. First, we only find you candidates who will work your timings no matter where their location. And paperwork? Well, we do all that for you – insurance, tax, leaves – we’ll sort out all of it.

You get the best of all worlds when you choose to hire full-time remote workers via DistantJob: the most qualified candidates who will work full-time only for you and do so remotely. You can forget about the bureaucratic headaches and let us take care of that too. Call us and let us help you get a higher ROI for your business.

Main photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash. Body photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash.

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Ria Ghose

Ria Ghose

Ria Ghose is an SEO copywriter who helps businesses connect with their ideal customers. To learn how SEO copywriting can help your business, email