Telecommute simply means to work from a remote location, usually a home office, by electronically linking to a company. For many, the word telecommute implies employment (though working off-site) because some companies don't allow non-employees access to their computer systems in order to telecommute.
However, the term telecommute can apply to off-site independent contractors, who are not employees.
Note: Using the words, telecommute or telecommuting as keywords when searching for a job online has its pros and cons. For more on these words in search engines, see Keywords for Finding a Job Online.
Always clarify with a potential employer whether you would work as telecommuting employee or an independent contractor.
The word "telework" has become a popular synonym for telecommute because it puts the emphasis on the work (the benefit to the employer) rather than the elimination of the commute (the benefit to the employee).
Telework means to work from a remote location, often a home office, by electronically linking to a company. Often it is used as a synonym for telecommute. Like telecommute, the word telework implies employment (though working off-site).
However, the telework can apply to off-site independent contractors, who are not employees.
The word telework has become more popular as an alternative to telecommute because it puts the emphasis on the work (the benefit to the employer) rather than the elimination of the commute (the benefit to the employee). The U.S. Federal Government uses the word teleworking rather than telecommuting.
But even though telework is more popular than it once was, that doesn't necessarily make it a good keyword to use when using Internet search engines.
A freelancer is someone that works as an independent contractor to provide a specific service to a client. By definition, a freelancer is not an employee. (U.S, freelancers do not receive W-2s but should get a 1099 if they earn more than $600 form a client.) A freelancer may be paid for his or her time in a variety of rate structures: on a project basis, per hour, per call or per minute of talk time for call center agents, per word for freelance writers, in a lump sum, etc.
A consultant provides advice to companies in a particular field or specialty. Consultants are sometimes independent contractors, but can also be employed by a consulting firm. They often work on-site but may also work off-site from home or an office. A consultant differs from a freelancer, who is always an independent contractor, in that a freelancer completes a project assigned by the client while consultants usually advise on projects.
To become a consultant you need a high level of expertise in your particular field.
Telecommuting Terms to Know
When you start at anything new, it pays to know the lingo. If you want to get started working from home, read through the definitions of various terms related to telecommuting, so that you will be on the same page with the people at the companies to which you are applying..