Flexible vs Remote Work Part 1 (p.s. it’s not the same thing)

By Kristen Harris

Flexible Work and Remote Work are two key workforce trends that keep gaining steam. They’re often lumped together but, while they CAN be related, these two things are not the same.

Flexible Work simply means there is some measure of flexibility in the job. This may be how, when or where the work is done. Having a 10-hours/4 days-a-week schedule, working from 7-4 instead of 9-6, or working 30 hours a week at a prorated salary are all examples of flexibility. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and being given the choice of a laptop or desktop computer are also flexibility. And the option to occasionally go offsite to work from home or a coffee shop is flexibility as well.

But, this is where it gets tricky. Flexible Work (even with the option to go offsite) is not the same as Remote Work. When someone has a Remote Work job they are inherently not in the company’s offices. They may work in another city, like a sales manager with the Western territory for a New York-based company, or they may be located in a client’s office instead of the company headquarters. Their job may be one where it really doesn’t matter whether they’re in the office or not; many call centers are going to this model and setting their employees up to work from home.

The difference is, with Remote Work there is an expectation that you will be working from home or another location. The job may also be Flexible, but that’s not always the case. A job may be Flexible, Remote, or both.

For example:

  • a call center job done from home with a strict 12-8 schedule, five days per week is Remote Work but not Flexible Work because it’s a set schedule.
  • a marketing job that only requires 25 hours per week, onsite in the company’s headquarters, is Flexible Work but not Remote Work because the person is required to be in the office.

  • a sales role that has no set schedule, working wherever and whenever is needed from home, a coffee shop or the airport, is both Flexible and Remote Work.

Companies are becoming more open to Flexible Work options, offering different schedules and occasional “work from home” days. Or they might realize their need is not a full-time role, and perhaps better suited to a part-time employee or contractor. Businesses that can offer this type of flexibility are able to tap into a broader pool of candidates and retain valuable team members as life needs change.

There are different considerations with Remote Work, we’ll explore that in Flexible vs Remote Work Part 2.