Background:

With the rise of the Internet, more and more companies are starting to see increasing portions of their workforce able to accomplish their work from any location with an Internet connection and a phone. In some cases, this can be a part-time thing (such as someone who works one day a week from home but is at the office the rest of the time) or an occasional thing (such as someone who telecommutes when sick to avoid getting his/her colleagues sick as well. In other cases, there is no office for the worker to go to; the worker routinely works out of his/her own home. (For the purposes of this question, I'm not so much asking about someone who has built his/her own business from home (e.g. someone who makes things and sells them on Etsy), but the concept I'm looking for might include such a worker in its definition.)

Question:

I am specifically looking for a word to describe someone who works from home full time. The idea is a word (or short phrase) that means: "an individual who routinely works a full time job as part of a larger company, but who does so all or most of the time from a home office."

In particular, I wonder if there is such a word or phrase that specifically includes the word home or a derivation of that word?

Other notes:

There are a couple of obvious candidates that I think are specifically excluded from consideration:

  • telecommuter: This is the closest example I've come across, but as I understand the word, it implies that the worker is not working from home on a regular basis (i.e. the worker also works out of the office a significant portion of time). It also, in my mind, doesn't necessarily imply that one is working from "home"; one could just as easily telecommute from a coffee shop or a park bench. I should acknowledge that my impression of the meaning of telecommuter does not appear to jive with the definition available at The Free Dictionary. The definition at Wiktionary does a better job of approximating my personal understanding. Does anyone else agree with my assumption that telecommuting is inherently less than full time?

  • freelancer: May apply to some people who work from home full time, but not all people who work from home are freelancers (see the part of the requested definition about it being full time work for a company), and not all freelancers work from home.

  • homeworker: I have never heard this word used in real life. Ever. I'm not convinced that people would understand what it means. (Especially because it's superficially similar to the unrelated concept of a homemaker.)

  • self-employed: This term implies that one is one's own boss, i.e. that the worker is not employed by a larger company/organization. I'm looking for the concept of working for a company but doing so out of your own home instead of at the company's office location (if it even has one). I suppose a self-employed person who works from home could possibly be a subset of the term I'm looking for, but the concept I'm trying to get at is at best a superset of this definition, and perhaps even different altogether (this is why, for now, I'm including "part of a larger company" in my idealized definition, above).

  • What's wrong with self-employed? – JCG Nov 6 '15 at 22:24
  • Self-employed implies that one is one's own boss, i.e. that the worker is not employed by a larger company/organization. I'm looking for the concept of working for a company but doing so out of your own home instead of at the company's office location (if it even has one). I'll add "self-employed" to the list in my original post to make this clear. Thanks. – Nonnal Nov 6 '15 at 22:26
  • Great idea to use ngrams, @chaslyfromUK. I think that this summarizes the ones that are hitting closest to the mark for me: bit.ly/1Ouf58x – Nonnal Nov 6 '15 at 22:58
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – RyeɃreḁd Nov 7 '15 at 17:43
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    In California, "working from home" and "working remotely" are ubiquitous descriptive terms, and "telecommuting" is still somewhat frequent, although less so than it was five or six years ago, I think. I have never hard the term homeworkers used here; I suspect that the problem with that term is that it conjures "homework," which in the United States refers to "schoolwork" that K–12 schoolchildren must do after school (and usually at home). There is no reason homeworker couldn't become the standard word for people who work at home, but in the United States it has happened happened yet. – Sven Yargs Nov 8 '15 at 6:40
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Consider teleworker:

someone who works from home, and communicates with their employer, customers etc using a computer, telephone etc.

(Longman)

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EDIT: As the dictionary definition says, the means of communication with the employer are not limited to computers. Phone, beeper and other means are possible. A teleworker seamstress with no computer is therefore also possible. Maybe she uses her Android smartphone, or a landline, why not? From a job site called Telework Recruiting:

We are looking for an experienced seamstress to become part of our London team. Candidates must be able to work from home with their own equipment.

(http://www.teleworkrecruiting.com/job/seamstress/)

  • It also comes straight from the Wiktionary article linked to by the OP. – NES Nov 6 '15 at 23:04
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    ...and perhaps a bazillion other places. I haven't checked, perhaps the Wiktionary article mentions the term, but where my answer comes from is my noggin. – A.P. Nov 6 '15 at 23:16
  • This term only covers employees (and many freelancers) who work from their home via their computers. "Homeworker" is the much older (and possibly original) term. books.google.com/ngrams/… – Mari-Lou A Nov 7 '15 at 7:19
  • @Mari-LouA Regarding computers: not at all. The definition is broader and includes other means. Some means of communication is necessary, otherwise the person would isolated from their employer, no? And what means other than digital would be used in the 21st century? :) Anyway, see my updated answer. – A.P. Nov 7 '15 at 9:27
  • OK when I google homeworker I get a bunch of work-from-home scam sites. Actually most of the references are expressing the sites are scams. So there is a high high chance that some guys from Nigeria made up some scam sites and then other sites warned of the Nigerian scam sites. So your graph may be expressing that your word is slightly more used than some word made up and used by Nigerian scammers. Not sure that is the proof you want. While teleworker makes logical sense in that it conveys the definition - I have never heard it used. – RyeɃreḁd Nov 7 '15 at 17:36

I prefer 'telecommuter':

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommuting

Telecommuting, remote work,[1] or telework is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. A person who telecommutes is known as a "telecommuter"

I think homeworkers or home workers is the correct term. It is quite common usage as shown in Ngram below:

  • are defined by the International Labour Organization as people working from their homes or from other premises of their choosing other than the workplace, for payment, which results of a product or service specified by the employer.
  • There are an estimated 300 million homeworkers in the world, though because these workers generally function in the informal economy, and are seldom registered and often not contracted, exact numbers are difficult to come by.

  • Recently, the phenomenon of homework has grown with increased communication technology, as well as changes in supply chains, particularly the development of Just In Time inventory systems.

(Wikipedia)

Homeworker:

  • (Industrial Relations & HR Terms) a person who does paid work at home, rather than in an office. (Collins)

Ngram homeworkers, home workers

Homeworker Handbook - - U.S. Department of Labor:

  • Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, homeworkers are entitled to the same protections of the law as other employees. Any violations committed with respect to homeworkers are subject to the penalties set forth in the law and in Regulations, 29 C.F.R. Parts 530 and 579.

  • Homeworkers must be paid at a rate of not less than the minimum wage provided in the Act for all hours worked unless a lower rate is permitted under a special certificate for an individual homeworker in accordance with Regulations, 29 C.F.R. Part 525.

  • 2
    I have heard a lot of terms used for this but never "homeworker". I have heard "home worker" but that isn't a word it is basically the phrase the question asks. "Homeworker" sounds like Engrish, Not only that "homeworkers" is a term for people who build or work on homes. Other than reverse googling have you ever heard this term used? – RyeɃreḁd Nov 6 '15 at 22:50
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    @Mari-LouA - Homeworker in the US is a person who works on homes or a person who works in homes (maid). It is not a "clear" phrase at all because it tends to have ambiguous or no/multiple meanings. It is certainly something that I would expect to hear from a foreigner in the US. – RyeɃreḁd Nov 6 '15 at 22:57
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    I think the resistance of many Americans in acknowledging this term stems from their use of "homemaker", which in the UK would still be called a "housewife" or "househusband". Homeworker looks too similar for comfort, perhaps you need to find out "when" the term homeworker first arose and possibly "where" it originated in order to convince these yanks! :) And because we are in the 21st century, people are making the assumption that the OP is referring only to freelancers or employees who work from home via their computers. – Mari-Lou A Nov 7 '15 at 7:14
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    @Mari-LouA - it is NOT used in America. Sorry if it is a British word that is common and I am not acknowledging it but I have spent a TON of time in London and currently have 3 people working for me in London and have never heard of it - and 1 of those people is a "homeworker". Seriously if you said you were a "homeworker" in the US there is an 80% chance that someone will think you said you were a "homewrecker". – RyeɃreḁd Nov 7 '15 at 8:18
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    This is a great answer an I have upvoted it. I don't think that it works for me in my situation, but the Internatioanl Labor Organization and U.S. Department of Labor references certainly lend credence to this term as highly relevant. I wouldn't be surprised to see this term increase in usage over the coming years, although to my ear it still sounds a bit off (perhaps because of its lexical similarity to "homework" (as mentioned in various comments). Many thanks for an excellent and well-researched post! – Nonnal Nov 8 '15 at 21:22

I think the only valid answer is "No", there is no specific term as you define it. I think the difficulty is that in looking for a term to describe someone working full-time for a company from home you're also stepping into territory where people do exactly the same work on contract or connected directly with customers.

Note that although the question and most of the answers imply modern, computer-based work what you've described isn't modern or computerised. Before the internet jobs such as typing and dressmaking were jobs routinely carried out by people at home (historically usually women caring for children but not exclusively). Telephone work, either cold calling or responding to support calls, can also be done from any home with a phone.

Complicating this is that the definition given describes people working in cottage industries. In many of these industries they're just called "workers" because that's how all of the work is done - the central office is just a coordinating and warehousing facility. Searching this path might turn up a specialist term but I couldn't find one.

I think the terms you've excluded are all there is (adding "remote worker" as a synonym and therefore also excluded).

Edit: I like the answers by both Stefan and Elian as they're not just synonyms of the excluded terms. There is hope yet for this question.

  • Thanks, @christutty, for a great and thoughtful reply. It's obviously (by definition) not the answer that I was hoping for, but it's well reasoned and contributes a lot to the discussion. Many thanks. I also agree that the additional terms you have mentioned/referenced (namely: "remote worker", "home-based employee", and "at-home worker") are worthy of consideration for those seeking similar answers. – Nonnal Nov 9 '15 at 0:01

I guess "home-based employee" (or "home-based worker") would be phrase you are looking for?

Home-based work and womens labor force: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/323936?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

At my company this is simply referred to as a distance worker. It sounds like corporate crap but is what it is.

"Remote and stay-at-home" worker or "Remote worker" could be considered.

In the linked article, the writer used "remote and stay-at-home workers" first and continued with "remote workers".

Ther verb "to work remotely" is braodly used to mean "to work away from his employer workplace". The link clearly defines what "remote work" is.

Remote work is labeled many ways. We define it as work completed in an environment other than the employer workplace. This can include working from a home office for employees & contractors and/or working from any other imaginable environment (hotel, beach, in transit, etc.). Remote work is a fast growing trend in the workplace with 3 out of 5 North American workers stating they can work remotely.

[North Carolina Department of Commerce]

(1) Outworkers: Outworkers are contractors or employees who perform their work at home or at a place that wouldn’t normally be thought of as a business premises.

(2) Home Based Business Owners: If they are running their own business out of their home.

(3) E Worker: People who generally do data entry jobs from home.

Consider, at-home worker

Companies that operate exclusively online may need at-home workers to serve customers Chron

  • What a great answer. If I could give you a million upvotes I would do so. Your insight definitely makes me think about English. – RyeɃreḁd Nov 7 '15 at 8:44
  • @RyeɃreḁd Simple questions sometimes require simple answers. Unlike "homeworker," which might sound ambiguous as to whether it is an at-home worker, a houseworker or a homewrecker one is referring to, "at-home worker" and "stay-at-home worker" mean clearly what they say, i.e. someone who works from their home.... :-) – Elian Nov 7 '15 at 9:35
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    I'll make a hunch and say that RyeBread was being ever so slightly sarcastic – Mari-Lou A Nov 7 '15 at 11:32
  • @Mari-LouA "sarcastic" is indeed how I perceived his comment when I commented back.. – Elian Nov 7 '15 at 13:09
  • @Mari-LouA - Sarcastic? I mean why? I get to come to a site and learn totally new English words. I can't wait to be the first that use them. – RyeɃreḁd Nov 7 '15 at 16:48

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