How to Telecommute – 5 Tips for Working From Home

If you know how to telecommute successfully, you’ll save time, money, and energy. You’ll get more done in less time – and you may even be happier and healthier!

But not everyone agrees that telecommuting is valuable.

“When employers analyze their bottom line, they find that teleworking seldom provides value,” writes Howard Levitt in “Telecommuting – Why It Will Never Work” in the Vancouver Sun newspaper this weekend.

In the article, Levitt describes several problems that working from home brings. Below, I offer solutions to those problems – because I’ve been successfully working from home for four years.

If you’re an aspiring telecommuter, read Work at Home Now: The No-nonsense Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home-based Job, Avoiding Scams, and Making a Great Living.

And, here are several career tips for telecommuters…

How to Telecommute – 5 Tips for Working From Home

1. Stay on your employer’s radar screen. “When there is a project to be assigned, managers first consider the employee immediately available,” writes Levitt. “In my experience, most teleworkers become under-utilized, in part, because employers stop assigning them meaningful work because they are not in office. Increasingly, telecommuters miss the opportunities their coworkers at the office enjoy.” As a freelance writer, I telecommute for a living – and I receive lots of article assignments even though I don’t work in office with my editors and clients! If lack of work is one of your “work from home” problems, then you need to figure out how to draw positive attention to yourself.

2. Find ways to exchange ideas with colleagues regularly. A common problem for employees who work from home is to lose touch with your colleagues – especially if new employees are hired or new projects assigned. Solutions include scheduling a weekly or daily conference call, working from the office a day a week, or attending regular employee lunches or staff meetings. The more you nurture your professional relationships, the more you’ll enjoy your work – telecommuting or not.

3. Be available at the same time every day. “Even diligent teleworkers lack immediacy and reliability when decisions are made and work is assigned,” writes Levitt in “Telecommuting – Why It Will Never Work.” “I’ve represented clients who terminated a teleworking arrangement when the employee more than once failed to answer the phone and often did not return urgent business calls for hours.” To make telecommuting work, be consistent and clear about your home office hours. Learn how to manage your work as a telecommuter.

4. Try different ways to stay motivated and self-disciplined when working from home. When you first start a telecommuting job, you’re all fired up about your office hours and productivity levels! But, the lure of the comforts of home may soon distract you – unless you discipline yourself stick to your work schedule. How? By “starting as you mean to go” or setting and sticking to your work schedule from day one. Pretend your boss has a nanny-cam, and can see every move you make. Pretend your wage or salary is directly related to your hours worked. Try different ways to overcome distractions while working from home.

5. Set career goals that are directly related to your telecommuting work. When was the last time you looked at your career goals? Even if it was just last month, it’s time to review and revise your career goals – and include a few ways to make telecommuting work for you. Solving work from home problems doesn’t have to be complicated, and it can be the best thing you do for your career — especially if you like telecommuting!

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Also — it’s important to remember that telecommuting doesn’t work for everyone. I know several people who don’t enjoy it, including my husband. Some people enjoy the comraderie and structure of working with colleagues in an office setting.

Are you the shy, quiet type? Read Best Jobs and Careers for Introverts – From Online to On Air.

What do you think – does telecommuting work? How do you solve work from home problems?

Do you need relationship help? Get Mort Fertel's 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage. It's helpful - and free!

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3 thoughts on “How to Telecommute – 5 Tips for Working From Home

  • Laurie Post author

    Hi Sam,

    Great question! I answered you here:

    How to Work From Home Without Getting Distracted

    I hope it helps you love telecommuting (I know I do!).


  • Sam K.

    Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for this. I work in an accounting firm and have the option of working from home 2 days a week. I’ve tried it, but find that I can’t focus on work when I’m at home, due to all the distractions and projects. How do I stay focused when I work from home? I want it to work, to be a telecommuter, but I also want to stay productive and keep my job. What are your tips?


  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Another reason working at home is better than working from an office…

    Employees who telecommute the majority of the work week are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those working mostly in the office because working remotely alleviates more stress than it creates, according to a new study by a communication researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).

    The study, conducted by Kathryn Fonner, UWM assistant professor of communication, and Michael Roloff, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University, compared the advantages and disadvantages of each work arrangement. A paper outlining the results appears in the November issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research, published by the National Communication Association.

    The main benefit reported by participants who telework at least three days a week is the decreased work-life conflict that a flexible work arrangement allows. Alienation from workplace communication, often cited as the biggest disadvantage of telework, was reported as minimal by the study’s participants. Teleworkers reported exchanging information with others less frequently than office-based employees, but both groups reported similar timely access to important work-related information.

    Results of the study pointed to multiple reasons why telework is linked to high job satisfaction, namely that employees working remotely are, on average, shielded from much of the distracting and stressful aspects of the workplace, such as office politics, interruptions, constant meetings and information overload, says Fonner.

    “Our findings emphasize the advantages of restricted face-to-face interaction, and also highlight the need for organizations to identify and address the problematic and unsatisfying issues inherent in collocated work environments,” says Fonner. “With lower stress and fewer distractions, employees can prevent work from seeping into their personal lives.”

    Source: University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.