How Does a Remote Job Work?

Office-based work has been the norm for so long that we all pretty much understand how that works. Commuting. Start and end times. Schedules. Benefits and perks. These are widely held norms in office-based jobs, but how does all of this work when you work remotely?

As the leading site for flexible and remote jobs, FlexJobs has been immersed in the remote job market since 2007. We’re also a remote company, and we know lots of remote teams and companies, so we have a deep understanding of how remote jobs work—the structure, norms, benefits, home office setups, and much more.

Here’s what you need to know about how a remote job works:

1. There’s no one way to work remotely.

Each company will have its own specific requirements, rules, and standards for remote work. Because each company designs its remote work program differently, each part of a remote worker’s day may be different depending on where they work.

You can learn a lot by carefully reading a remote job description to find out if the employer has set schedules or flexible hours, if it provides equipment, and so on. Also, ask about the company’s approach to remote work during job interviews to get even more details and research the company on sites like FlexJobs,, and Glassdoor to learn about its remote work program.

2. Most remote jobs require workers to be based in a certain location.

According to FlexJobs’ remote job data, about 95% of remote job listings require a worker to be based in a certain location. That means only 5% of remote jobs are true “work-from-anywhere” jobs.

The most common reasons for requiring remote workers to be based in a certain location like a state, country, region, or time zone include legal and tax issues, professional licensing, on-site training or meetings, travel requirements, or to be close to clients.

3. Some remote jobs have set schedules and some are flexible.

When it comes to schedules, some remote jobs require you to work during “business hours,” whatever that might mean for the company. This could be the standard 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or a bit different.

Others may require you to be available during “core hours,” which is usually a block of three to four hours midday when most workers will be working. This way, you’re guaranteed to have some overlapping work time with your coworkers. Another option is a completely flexible schedule where you set your own hours. Your only requirement in these situations is to work a certain number of hours each week.

4. Most remote jobs are employee jobs, not freelance.

When it comes to the jobs we see posted on FlexJobs, most remote job listings are for employee jobs, meaning you would work as a staff employee for a company. Freelance remote jobs, where you work as an independent contractor, make up a smaller portion of the remote jobs listed on our site.

5. Remote workers are often responsible for their own technology.

There are four ways remote workers get technology and equipment for their home offices:

  1. A company may have remote workers use their own equipment provided it meets certain specifications (for example, a certain Internet speed, a landline phone, or a laptop that is no more than four years old).
  2. A company may have remote workers use whatever equipment they have on hand, as long as it can get the job done.
  3. A company may provide specific equipment (laptops, headsets, etc.) for its remote workers to use.
  4. A company may provide a stipend to help remote workers purchase new equipment on their own.

6. Remote jobs provide pay benefits like any other job.

Remote jobs are subject to the same laws regarding benefits provision that traditional brick-and-mortar companies abide by. So, if a company provides its in-office employees with health insurance, 401(k) plans, vacation and sick time, and other similar benefits, those benefits should be available to the remote employees as well.

The only difference is in whether a remote worker is an employee or a freelancer. Freelance remote workers are always responsible for their own benefits. Learn even more details about how salaries are set for remote jobs and how benefits are managed in this article.

For more general benefits information, an article from The Balance about the types of employee benefits and perks does a great job breaking down which benefits employers are required to provide to employees, including remote employees, and when. There are specific rules and regulations for each type of benefit, like COBRA, disability, family and medical leave, minimum wage, overtime, unemployment, and workers’ compensation, so be sure to read about each benefit to see what an employer may be required to provide.

7. Remote employees get paid the same way as in-office workers, too.

Depending on whether you’re part-time or full-time, as a remote employee, you’ll be paid either by salary or by the hour, just like in an on-site job.

Again, the only difference comes with freelancing, where you may be paid by the hour, by the project, or by retainer depending on how you and your clients agree to your payment structure.

As you’ve probably noticed, remote jobs are structured very similarly to traditional in-office jobs. However, each company designs its own remote work program so each remote job will be different in some ways. And of course, there are key differences between remote employee jobs and remote freelance jobs. On the FlexJobs blog, we’re always adding new tips and advice to help you learn how remote and flexible jobs work!

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