Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Telecommuting Works


Telecommuting Tips
Workers who telecommute find themselves juggling between home and work commitments.
Workers who telecommute find themselves juggling between home and work commitments.
© Photographer: Monika Adamczyk | Agency: Dreamstime

If telecommuting seems like a fit for you there are certain things you can do to make working at home work for you.

First, if your company doesn't offer a telecommuting option, you might be able to convince it to try one by writing a formal proposal. The proposal should include a list of companies that offer their workers a telecommuting option. Listing those companies that also operate in your business sector can show it applies. The proposal also can include information from organizations such as the International Telework Association and Council and American Telecommuting Association. Finally, you can list the productivity improvements and projected cost savings to the company that telecommuting can provide to the company's bottom line.

Second, be flexible. Some companies might be hesitant to allow workers to spend 100 percent of their time away from the office. Expect them to require you to come in sometimes. Some companies might require this at least once a week or a couple times per month. Others might want you in as needed. Others also might require you to live within a certain distance of an office.

Coming into the office, at least sometimes, is usually a good thing anyway. A 2007 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed working alongside others has a positive effect on workers by maintaining a sense of teamwork and cohesion [source: Hartford Business].

Even though you're staying home to work, you should still stick to a routine. Doing so helps you maintain the mindset of going to work. Start and stop work at the same times as you normally would and take breaks accordingly. Telecommuting has the potential for both improving and worsening your performance. Discipline is essential.

Also, keep a log of what you accomplish working at home. It may come in handy if your company becomes skeptical of your productivity as a telecommuter. Send your boss progress reports and make it easy for him or her to find you and communicate. Call in, send e-mails or text messages. Let them know you're engaged and on the job.

At the same time, don't fall into the trap of feeling like you have to work constantly because you work at home. Set work hours and stick to them.

Finally, beware of Internet scams offering a chance to work at home. While there are certainly legitimate offers of this variety, a few warning signs to watch for include those that ask you to pay up front, are hosted on a free site or you have difficulty in determining the nature of the work from solicitation.

Writer, data manager or accountant -- which careers allow you to work from home? Find out on the next page.