Does the idea of remote work appeal to you? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, more than 30% of Canadian workers would actually change jobs just for the chance to have a remote job. In short, a remote job is a role or position where an employee’s designated job duties can be completed without the need to go to the office or other company location.

If you’re considering remote job opportunities, this guide can help. It explains more about what remote work is, how it works and how to find the right remote job for you.

remote work definition

Remote work occurs when employees complete job tasks outside of a traditional workplace. Workplaces might include central offices, call centers, factory floors, retail locations and other spaces that are overseen directly by leadership, which is generally also on site.

While working from home is a common form of remote work, other options exist. If employees are working from coffee shops, airport lounges, hotels or private coworking spots, they are working remotely.

In some cases, employees might work remotely some of the time while coming into the office or other workplace the rest of the time. When remote work is coupled with tasks completed in the workplace, it's known as a hybrid work environment.

a brief history of remote work

The term "telecommuting" was created by a NASA engineer in 1973. Before the internet, IBM tested the concept of work-from-home with call center staff that handled their work via telephone. The pilot program began with five people. It was so effective that by 1983, IBM offered all 2,000 call center employees the option to work from home.

While select employees in small numbers of companies across the globe were offered remote working opportunities in the decades that followed, it wasn't until the age of the internet that flexible work environments became more popular. Still, technological capabilities were limited to features like email and instant messaging for many years. That put limitations on which jobs worked well remotely and how companies could oversee and manage processes when employees weren't on site.

As new technology, such as web-conferencing, developed, remote work became increasingly possible. Still, by 2016, only around 4% of Canadian employees worked remotely.

Reasons for delays in the adoption of remote work included:

  • Businesses not believing it would well
  • Businesses not having the infrastructure and technology in place to support it
  • Employees not creating a demand for this option

Fast-forward to 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work became a necessity for business survival in the early days of the pandemic, and businesses scrambled to make it work. In many cases, it worked so well that employers and employees alike were agreeable to keeping the option around long-term. Which is why in 2021, around 30% of Canadian employees were working remotely.

Following the pandemic, remote work has become a perk that employers can't afford to ignore and many employees can demand.

Woman and man standing next to the kitchen counter top, looking at a laptop. Smiling.
Woman and man standing next to the kitchen counter top, looking at a laptop. Smiling.

meet with one of our recruiters to learn more about remote job opportunities.

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For additional reading on remote jobs, check out these pertinent articles:

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