The Home-Based Business Professional’s Guide to the “New” Jargon

There once was a time when working from home was not only unusual, but it was called just that―working from home.  Okay, there were and are other buzzword phrases that refer to the same concept, such as home-based business owner or work-at-home business or, if appropriate, even consultant or freelancer.  One thing is for sure.  No matter what you may call yourself, the advent of a whole host of technologies over the past decade has made it both easier and more logical than ever for millions of others to join you.  And joining you they are.  In fact, more and more individuals opt to go into business for themselves and more employers realize the tangible benefits of employees working from home with each passing year. 

According to a 2009 WorldatWork survey, the constantly increasing trend of working from home can be attributed to three key things*:

1)      Unprecedented technology―including high-speed and wireless Internet coupled with a growing number of ingenious software applications and virtual office management options―has made working from home less expensive and quite productive―like never before, in fact.

2)      Gas prices are up, and they don’t show signs of coming down any time soon, if ever again.  Commuting to work every day―when you can get the same job done from home at the same or even a higher productivity level and with similar if not superior results―makes less sense to all of us as time goes by.

3)      Employers are finally getting it that people are looking for a true work-life balance and that there may be some merit to exploring the idea of letting employees work from home, even if just occasionally.

Along with this emerging school of thought on what―and where―constitutes a productive work day, a whole new set of buzzwords for how we do business in this country and around the world seems to be emerging.  In fact, the WorldatWork study sees fit to dedicate much of its first-page methodology overview to defining many of the key terms used in its report―a sure sign that for many, this is news. 

If you’re a home-based or other small business owner, consultant or freelancer, you might find it interesting that what you’ve been up to all these years has a new name for the 21st century.  Take a look*:

  • Telecommute:  To either periodically or regularly perform work for one’s employer from home or another remote location.
  • Telework:  To perform all of one’s work either from home or another remote location, either for an employer or through self-employment.
  • Employee Telecommuter:  A regular employee, full- or part-time, who works at home or from another remote location at least one day per month during normal business hours.
  • Contract Telecommuter:  An individual who works on a contract basis for an employer or is self-employed, and who works at home or at a remote location at least one day per month during normal business hours.
  • Employed Telecommuters:  Individuals who are either employees or contactors and who are working from home or remotely at least one day per month during normal business hours; employee and contract telecommuters taken together equal employed telecommuters.

So, are you a telecommuter?  A teleworker?  And if you’re a telecommuter, which kind are you exactly?  I, for one, am a teleworker, who sometimes serves as a contract telecommuter.  At least I think that’s what I am anyway.  Who knew?

*Source:  Telework Trendlines 2009:  A Survey Brief by WorldatWork; data collected by The Dieringer Research Group, Inc., February 2009.

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