What is remote work?

Remote work

Remote work is the practice of employees doing their jobs from a location other than a central office operated by the employer. Locations could include an employee's home, a co-working or other shared space, or any other place outside of the traditional corporate office building.

In recent years remote work has grown in popularity with many companies around the world offering their employees some form of remote work policy.

Why has remote work grown in popularity?

During the coronavirus pandemic, many companies were forced to adopt remote work policies as part of social distancing measures brought in by governments around the world. Despite the extreme circumstances that led to this upheaval, both employees and employers discovered a variety of benefits in working outside of a central office, and many are seeking to continue with some form of remote work policy beyond the end of the pandemic. 

What are the benefits of remote work for employees?


Most remote working policies include a high level of flexibility, far more so than in a traditional office. From allowing employees to attend medical appointments and work around caring for a dependant to empowering employees to choose their own work hours and follow asynchronous work practices, the level of flexibility offered varies from company to company.

Cost savings

Anyone who’s ever commuted to work, particularly in a major city, knows that the costs can soon add up. From paying for travel and lunch to office clothes and even gifts for employees, remote work minimizes these expenses and in some cases gets rid of them entirely.

Getting time back

Commuting doesn’t only cost money, it also takes up a lot of time. In 2019, over 60% of European workers spent half an hour per day or more commuting to work—thats adds up to almost five whole days spent commuting each year. Remote workers can claim all that time back to spend however they choose.

Not only can you save time commuting, but remote workers who work from home can also get on top of household chores in breaks between work, giving more time back to enjoy their weekends free from mundane tasks.

The ability to work from anywhere

While working from home was a necessity during the coronavirus pandemic, as the world opens up remote workers are experiencing the joy of being able to work from wherever they like. Whether that’s the cafe across the street or a completely different country, remote work truly breaks down barriers and opens up a world of opportunity.

Improved wellbeing

For over 97% of Americans, more flexibility at work was the most important factor to improve mental health at work. While remote work does require discipline and trust on both sides of the employee-employer relationship in order to improve wellbeing, the flexibility offered can lead to significant benefits.  

What are the benefits of remote work for employers?

Access to a global workforce

Companies that confine themselves to an office environment are only able to hire from a pool of workers who can feasibly travel to that office. Remote companies, however, can hire from anywhere in the world, opening up an enormous pool of international talent.

With Oyster’s global employment software handling all the local tax and compliance issues, employers can now easily hire and onboard new workers from most countries in the world. Find out more about how Oyster can help with global employment.

Cost savings

Just like for employees, remote work also offers cost savings to employers. If you still operate from an office under a hybrid model, it’s likely that you’ll need far less space, If you opt to go fully remote, like Oyster is, then you won’t have any expenses at all for the costs of running an office space, like:

  • rent
  • heating
  • electricity
  • wi-fi
  • cleaning
  • staff food and drink
  • equipment
  • furniture

While you will still have expenses for your workers to set up their own home offices, these are unlikely to amount to the cost of the above.

Reduced absence rates

Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, when workers in the UK were forced to work remotely absence rates fell to the lowest rate in 15 years. Over the same period, sectors that were unable to work remotely, like manufacturing, saw absence rates increase. While this shows that absence rates can be decreased by remote work policies, companies should also ensure they have a culture that discourages digital presenteeism and encourages employees to feel safe to take days off when they need to.

Increased productivity

The old-fashioned view that employees working from home would inevitably be less productive has been proven incorrect by several recent studies. In fact, the opposite has proven to be true, with employers seeing better productivity from their remote workers.

Improved employee retention

Many companies that offer remote work options have noticed a drastic reduction in staff turnover. With all the benefits of remote work for employees listed above, it’s no surprise that they’re happy to stick around.

What are the different models of remote work?

While remote work is an increasingly common term, there are a few different interpretations. The terms below describe specific models that remote work can be separated into.

Working from home

Working from home (WFH) is a common modern working practice where workers carry out their jobs from their homes. This can either be permanent or on certain days as part of a hybrid working arrangement.

Hybrid work

Hybrid work is a work model that combines remote attendance with in-office attendance. In a hybrid environment, employees would work from home on some days and commute into an office on other days. 

Distributed work

Distributed work refers to a way of working in which companies have one or more employees who work in different physical locations. Oyster is an example of a distributed workplace: we have team members in over 60 countries worldwide and no central office.

Digital nomadism

A digital nomad is a remote worker who uses technology and online communication tools to work from changing locations. A digital nomad can be temporarily based anywhere, but they are still subject to their host country's entry and visa regulations. 

What skills do remote workers need?

While remote working has many advantages over working in an office, they are two distinct ways of working that require slightly different skill sets. In order to work effectively, remote workers should have:

High-quality written communication

Clear written communication is a must-have skill in order to work collaboratively on a remote team. When a company shares a workspace, a lot of communication happens face-to-face. If an email is unclear the problem can be solved in person and in real-time. This doesn’t work on remote teams, especially if they’re operating asynchronously.

The ability to work independently

Most companies would agree on the value of employees who can work independently. But in many traditional workspaces, it isn’t a necessity. Many employees are used to working from consensus or running every decision through a gauntlet of management, and this just doesn’t work on remote teams.


In many traditional work environments, companies provide an environment where people can be productive. They set the schedule of when work will be conducted and provide spaces and opportunities for relationships to be built both intentionally and organically. But for a remote workforce, workers must come in with a resolve to do these things for themselves.

If you’re looking to gain the skills required to increase your chances of finding a remote job, check out the Oyster Academy.

Disclaimer: This article and all information in it is provided for general informational purposes only. It does not and is not intended to, constitute legal or tax advice. You should consult with a qualified legal or tax professional for advice regarding any legal or tax matter and prior to acting (or refraining from acting) on the basis of any information provided on this website.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.