Telecommuting has been around long before Marissa Mayer shook things up and eliminated the option for employees of Yahoo and Tumblr to work remotely. The media chatter surrounding Mayer can easily drown out the fact that in 1995 there were already four million telecommuters in the United States alone (USDA). Things show no signs of slowing down in the world of telework.
With the downturn of the economy, Metro Atlanta, similar to other top cities, has seen an increase in furloughs and unemployment. Metro Atlanta had an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in April of 2013, which falls only shortly below the state’s current unemployment rate of 8.2 percent and above the current national rate of 7.5 percent (GA DOL). Workers are scrambling for any and all positions to include working from home.
Navigating the world from the eyes of a remote worker, you will find that there are three main types of telecommuting options. Most telecommuters identify as an employee, independent contractor, or home-based business owner.
An employee is defined by the IRS as an individual that works for an organization that controls the type of work completed, how the work will be completed, and scheduling. The telecommuting options for an employee include working from home on a full-time basis or working some days onsite in the physical office and others from home. Employees have taxes withdrawn from their paychecks by their employer and receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, at the end of the year for tax filing. Customer service positions rank amongst the top remote positions offered on a full-time basis from home (Kiplinger).
The IRS deems those individuals that control the type of work they complete and how it is completed as independent contractors. Freelancer is another common term for an independent contractor. Freelancers are self-employed and responsible for their own tax obligations at the end of the year. Virtual Assisting and tutoring are common independent contractor, telecommuting positions.
Home-based business owner
Like independent contractors, home-based business owners are responsible for their own tax obligations. Those individuals looking to go beyond freelancing and fully establish a business and build a brand are the types to build a home-based business. Household names such as Apple, Ford Motor Company, and Mary Kay Cosmetics all started in the homes of their founders (SBA).