You Are NOT a Remote Worker

I find it annoying when articles written about people in the administrative support business refer to them as “remote workers.”

People who are running businesses are not “remote workers.”

“Remote worker” is a term of employment meaning “telecommuter” (i.e., an employee who works from home).

Attorneys are not remote workers. Accountants are not remote workers. Web designers are not remote workers. Bookkeepers are not remote workers. Coaches are not remote workers. And neither are people who provide administrative support as a business remote workers.

These are professionals who are in business providing a service and expertise.

This stuff is so important to your mindset in business because how you think of yourself, how you understand your role, directly affects how potential clients see and understand your business as well, and it affects how your relationship rolls out from there.

Discussions like this are good reminders to always keep in mind that how you think about yourself and the service you’re in business to provide and the words and terms you use impacts how you portray your business and how would-be clients see it, and the kind of clients you attract.

If you don’t want clients who treat you like their employee, you need to portray your service in a more business-like (not employee-like) manner.

That includes not using employment terminology in any way — including the word “assistant” or “remote worker.”

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How about you? Did you realize that “remote worker” is a term of employment? Is there content on your website that can be improved so clients are better informed about the nature of your
business-to-business relationship?

6 Responses

  1. I completely understand where you’re coming from. Do you think the use of the term “remote work” is subjective?

  2. Tell me more about what you mean by “subjective.”

  3. I say subjective because the term “remote work” can be dependent on how an individual might interpret the meaning. For example, by definition I work remotely because I do not work in a typical brick and mortar office environment. Or, I work remotely because I am not in the same location as my clients. Technically, I am not a ‘remote worker’, but I do ‘work remotely’, does that make sense?

  4. Gotcha.

    The context I’m talking about is where I see it being used in articles, every single time, they are using it to describe people who are running businesses and/or conflating two groups: people who actually are remote workers and people who are running businesses.

    But people who are running businesses are NEVER “remote workers” (even if they don’t understand that).

    “Remote worker” is a specific term of employment which is someone who is an employee for a company working from home. It’s another term for “telecommuter.”

    A business owner, by definition, is not a remote worker.

    So, like you recognize, it’s one thing for a business owner to describe how they run their business and work with clients (remotely). It’s entirely another for people to (incorrectly) call them “remote workers.”

    It’s also a matter of professional respect.

    All kinds of businesses/services are done “remotely” these days. For example: interior design, buying glasses, even mental health counseling. I’ve had attorney clients who do an entirely “remote” legal service. No one would ever dream of referring to them as “remote workers” and there would be a get-your-mind-right conversation if you did.

    Providing the service/expertise of administrative support isn’t any different.

  5. Yes, that’s exactly what I meant! I think the definition of the term ‘remote worker’ has become so obscure, people don’t understand the difference between a business owner who works remotely, and a remote worker who is employed by a company.

  6. Absolutely. And it’s precisely because of dumb articles like those, lol. It affects our marketplace.

    Any business owner who has clients who look upon her/him as their “remote worker” has clients who do not understand the correct nature of the relationship (i.e., business-to-business, not employer/employee).

    And that’s a problem when that’s the case because it affects everything else: the tone of the relationship, how clients speak to you, their expectations around what they should be paying, your ability to command proper professional fees, the list goes on.

    So it’s really important that the proper language of business is used at every opportunity because it helps properly educate clients and set/manage proper business expectations.

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