(A Brief) History of TelecommutingTelecommuting was the original way of describing a work-from-home job. The term was coined by Jack Nilles, a physicist and engineer, back in 1973. As he was designing space vehicles and communications systems for the U.S. Air Force and NASA, he realized how telecommunications could replace time-consuming commuting for this staff and claimed that “telecommuting” and “telework” would allow employees to work at home.
A Glossary of Terms to Describe Working from Home
While the terminology to describe working from home all seem to be fairly synonymous, there is a slight difference among them.
“Remote work” and “remote jobs” implies that the worker lives outside of the geographic area of the company’s main headquarters or office. In theory, a worker wouldn’t be able to go into an actual brick-and-mortar office, so it’s safe to assume that the bulk of remote jobs are done at home.
“Virtual jobs” also usually signifies that the employee primarily works from his or her home office. These are likely to be 100 percent at-home positions and might be for totally virtual companies.
“At-home jobs,” similarly, means that you will indeed be working from home.
“Work-from-home jobs” also implies that you’ll be working from home, but be careful. This phrase is most commonly associated with scams. We recommend using the other phrases listed here when searching for at-home positions in order to steer clear of scam jobs.
“Telecommuting jobs” or “telework” are becoming outdated terms and can be a bit tricky. For the most part, telecommuting connotes that a person is working primarily from his or her home office. That said, there may be some in-office work being done by teleworkers.
Although an employee may have an actual work-from-home job, it may only be on a part-time or freelance basis. After all, not all work-from-home jobs are full-time telecommuting positions. Depending on your position, you may need to go into an office a few days a week or month.
Learn more about why some telecommuting or virtual jobs require you to be in a particular location here.
Companies Hiring Virtual or At-Home Workers
Companies from all industries and of all sizes hire professionals to work from home. But some of these companies are completely virtual themselves, and they’re known by a variety of phrases. Try using some of these keywords in your job search to uncover virtual companies:
Distributed teams, remote teams, virtual teams, distributed workforce, virtual company
As the landscape of the workplace changes, so does the way in which people work. If you find a job listing that sounds exactly like something you want to do, but the language used to describe the job type is kind of murky, you should definitely clarify it with a potential hiring manager once you’re called in for an interview. That way, you’ll be sure to find the perfect position that gives you both a flexible schedule and work-life balance, too.
FlexJobs Career Writer