Remote Work Meaning

What do most people think of when they hear remote work?

It's probably something along these lines 👇

Mr. Fluff ain't impressed
Mr. Fluff ain't impressed (source: giphy)

A work environment that at the same time is cozy (think: pajamas and no commute) and sub-optimal (something cute who is trying to distract you).

But people confuse remote work with work from home (WFH).

I'm writing this short post since in September 2021 ~50,000 people conducted the following Google search 👇

But what does it actually mean?
But what does it actually mean?

We will assume that people are not interested in the philosophical meaning of remote work.

Hence, let's look at one possible way of defining remote work 👀

Our Definition of 'Remote Work'

At remote fabric, our goal is to educate the next generation of remote leaders. But before we can dive into more advanced material we need to cover the basics.

The way we split work is by looking at the three distances of work:

  1. 📐 Physical Distance: Co-located vs. Distributed
  2. Operational Distance: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous
  3. 💜 Affinity Distance: Distant vs. Close

At remote fabric we cluster work environments by looking at the three distances of work
At remote fabric we cluster work environments by looking at the three distances of work

Let's focus on #1 (physical distance) and #2 (operational distance). Physical distance is intuitively understood: you either work in the same room or you don't. If you don't, people assume it's remote work.

But if we add our second dimension (operational distance) we suddenly have 2 distinct types of "remote work":

Distributed ☕

Physically distributed + operationally synchronous

Work from home (WFH) is distributed work.

Instead of going to the office, you are working from your kitchen table but you are still working during the same working hours as everyone else on your team.

Remote-First 🏝️

Physically distributed + operationally asynchronous

Working in a different time zone is remote-first work.

No one is at the office. You are working from a coffee shop in Lima, Peru while your colleagues are asleep in Europe. You are still productive because you can get stuff done asynchronously.

The Key Distinction: Sync vs. Async

This tweet describes it pretty well:

I hope this short explainer was helpful 🙌

Want to Learn More About Remote?

Check our email-based course The 80/20 of Remote Team Leadership where we teach how to set up scalable documentation for your remote-first team 👇


If you have any additional questions you can:

Additional Resources


NameLink to post 👇Type
Building a Remote Company: Lessons Learned from Idea to Exit