What Kind of Remote Worker Are You?

“What kind of remote worker are you?” It’s one of the first questions I ask career coaching clients. The answer sets the stage for your entire remote job search. (No pressure).

So, it’s essential you can confidently answer it. But, most job seekers have no idea.

Sound familiar? Don’t panic. By the end of this post, you will hands down have an answer and feel completely confident in your search.

There Are Different Types of Remote Workers

A lot of job seekers are surprised to learn there are different types of remote workers. It’s true. I like to sort remote jobs into two main categories:

  1. Remote Employment
  2. Remote Self-Employment

Both have specific pros and cons unique to its type.

Remote Employment

Remote employees work full time, part time, or hybrid schedules. A hybrid schedule lets you work remotely a few days a week. Whether they work full time from home or head into the office on occasion, remote employees:

  • Have set schedules
  • Are benefits eligible
  • Receive steady pay (weekly, bi-weekly)
  • Have taxes withheld from paychecks
  • Must ask permission for days off or vacation time

Every company that hires remote employees has specific home office requirements. A dedicated workspace, quiet home office, and high-speed internet are common requirements. Always carefully read a remote job ad to make sure you have the right equipment to get hired.

If you’ve worked a traditional office job, you already know what it’s like to be an employee. The only difference is remote workers don’t have the daily commute.

Is Remote Employment Right for You?

When asked “what kind of remote worker are you,” your answer is remote employee if you:

  • Value benefits like health insurance and paid time off
  • Prefer a set schedule like M – F, 9 to 5
  • Can provide a quiet, distraction-free place to work
  • Like to have accountability
  • Enjoy collaborating virtually with coworkers

Signs Remote Employment Isn’t Your Type

An employee position isn’t for you if you:

  • Have caretaker responsibilities during work hours
  • Want to work a flexible schedule
  • Prefer solo work when and where you can
  • Hope to travel frequently while working
  • Don’t want to be tied to your desk during specific hours or days

Now, don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Before answering “what type of remote worker are you,” let’s look at your other option: Remote Self-Employment.

Remote Self-Employment

A lot of remote workers are self-employed. Freelancers, independent contractors, and online business owners are all examples of self-employed remote workers. (I am a self-employed remote worker for more than a decade!).

When you’re remotely self-employed you:

  • Get to set your own schedule
  • Have greater flexibility
  • Need to find your own health insurance
  • Must pay quarterly estimated taxes in the US

Self-employed remote workers come with tons of different titles like blogger, coach, consultant, writer, proofreader, graphic designer, and so much more!

Is Remote Self-Employment Right for You?

If I asked you, “What type of remote worker are you,” your answer should be self-employment if you:

  • Want to have total control of your schedule
  • Enjoy working alone
  • Need to work around responsibilities like child care
  • Are self-driven
  • Do not value benefits like paid time off and health insurance

Signs Remote Self-Employment Isn’t Your Type

Self-employment from home offers plenty of flexibility but it’s not for everyone. You should pass on self-employment if you:

  • Prefer the security of a steady paycheck
  • Are nervous about being in control of your earnings
  • Shy away from being in charge
  • Don’t feel comfortable managing yourself

Remember, you are your own business and have total control of your schedule, earnings, and workload. This is a lot of responsibility that takes time, energy, and effort.

So, What Kind of Remote Worker Are YOU?

Remote work is amazing and has tons of benefits. Virtual job searches, on the other hand, aren’t exactly fun. You have to know where to search, understand remote work terms, avoid scams, and stand out among competitors.

However, you can simplify your job search with a plan. And the first step in your plan is to answer, “What kind of remote worker are you?”

Remote Employee VS Remote Self-Employment

Employee Self-Employment
Set schedule Flexible schedule
Steady pay Fluctuating pay
Company benefits No company benefits
Taxes withheld from pay Must pay quarterly taxes
Coworker collaboration Solo work
Work duties assigned Must find own work

So, how do you choose the best fit for you?

Your Remote Work Ideals

When you picture yourself as a remote worker, what do you see? Are you joking with coworkers over Slack and attending Zoom meetings? Or do you envision yourself working independently on projects of your choosing?

Your work preferences are known as your career ideals. These ideals guide you to the “ideal” job for you. Makes sense, right? Awesome. Let’s check out common remote work ideals.

The first ideal to consider is schedule and flexibility.

Flexibility and Remote Work

When I help job seekers answer “What type of remote worker are you,” the first thing we discuss is schedule. Often, scheduling requirements will immediately indicate a need for one type of employment over another.

If you need total autonomy and full control over where you work and when, remote employee positions can’t provide that for you. Instead, consider self-employment through contract work, freelancing, or starting a virtual business.

Accountability and Remote Work

Next up, consider accountability. Are you one to thrive while working alone or do you need supervision and feedback to stay motivated?

As a remote employee, you have others relying on you to get work done. When you work for yourself, it’s up to you (and you alone) to complete projects.

Isolation and Remote Work

I’m an introvert, and introverts often thrive as remote workers. That’s because introverts don’t rely on interaction with others to recharge. However, even as an introvert I’m quick to admit that working remotely is isolating, especially if you are self-employed.

As a one-woman show, I rarely have interaction with others outside of emails or text exchanges. Some weeks I only leave the house a few days. Is this healthy? Probably not. Does it bother me? Not particularly.

Some people, however, find remote work to be isolating to the point it negatively affects mental well being. We don’t want that. So, truly think about how much interaction you crave in order to feel fulfilled. An employee position from home provides a chance to collaborate with others and check in with coworkers via Slack or Zoom. Remote self-employment does not lend itself to steady interaction (unless you count your cat, which I do).

Why Does it Matter What Type of Remote Worker I Am?

Fair question. I get asked this a lot. Most people want to work remotely so badly that they reason they will take ANY job. So, they hop online, search job sites, and apply to every listing they come across.

This is a terrible strategy for two reasons:

  1. You’re not qualified for every remote job
  2. You won’t be happy at all remote jobs

I named this blog Work from Home Happiness for a reason — remote work provides a happiness factor commuting doesn’t offer, but only when you find the right remote job.

And as I mentioned before, the first step to find the right remote job is to answer, “What type of remote worker are you?”

So, now it’s your turn, are you better suited for remote employee or in need of remote self employment options?

Remember, when you answer this question honestly you:

  • Simplify your job search
  • Know which roles to seek and which to avoid
  • Save time by avoiding jobs that won’t work with your ideals
  • Make progress faster
  • Find greater happiness in work

Needless to say, it’s important to reflect on what really matters to you in remote work.

Start Your Job Search Plan with a Statement

Now, take out a pen or paper or open up a new Google Doc. I want you to write a simple sentence:

My remote work type is [blank] because I [blank].

Next, fill in the blanks! For example:

My remote work type is remote employee because I prefer connecting with coworkers and value benefits like health insurance and paid time off.

Or, you could write a more personal sentence like:

My remote work type is remote self-employment because I want to earn a living while working a flexible schedule that allows me to spend more time with my kids.

As long as you’re honest, there is no right or wrong way to fill in the blanks. Now, anytime you feel unsure or stuck in your job search, you have a reminder of what you’re working toward and why.

Need Help?

It’s not always easy to know “What kind of remote worker are you.” Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. You’ve got this!



P.S. This post might contain affiliate links. Check out my disclosure statement to learn more.

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