Your Telework How-To: 10 Essentials For Getting Stuff Done at Home

By Katie Golde

March 19, 2013

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Imagine waking up five minutes to 9 a.m., still in PJs with eyes barely open, grabbing that steaming cup of homemade coffee, and settling down in a comfy office chair to work. There’s evidence such a scenario is becoming more common: One study estimates 45 percent of America’s workforce has a job suitable for part-time or full-time teleworking. And research suggests employees who spend time working outside the office are more satisfied with their jobs and even argue less with family members. But working outside the office isn’t always easy – it means learning how to manage time and prioritize, regardless of what those bunny slippers are saying.

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Around a third of the American workforce teleworks; as of 2011, somewhere between 34 and 44 million Americans (the exact number varies between studies) worked outside the office at least occasionally. And the number of companies that allow employees to work from Starbucks or their friend’s couch has increased at least 25 percent over the last few years. Today’s teleworkers have such diverse jobs as public relations specialists, graphic designers, and nurses who give patients advice over the phone.

The potential benefits of working outside the office range from less time on a sweaty subway to more motivation to get stuff done. For one thing, a 2.4-second trip from the kitchen to the living-room workstation can save people time, energy, and money on commuting to the office. In some cases, teleworking can also increase employees’ job satisfaction, improve work performance, and reduce stress. That’s possibly because teleworkers feel more independent, free to take a break and look at images of cute puppies whenever. And one study found teleworkers experienced less conflict with family members the more time they spent working from home. (No more having to sneak to the stairwell to answer calls from that special someone.)

Perhaps surprisingly, working outside the office may also increase productivity. The boss can’t check to make sure teleworkers are actually working, and not just playing Words With Friends, so employees might try to prove themselves by submitting a finished project at the end of the day. But not everyone is ready to jump out of the desk chair and onto the couch.

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Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side of the cubicle. Even part-time teleworking can cause tension between coworkers: One study found in-office employees thought they were treated unfairly when other employees got to work from home, while teleworkers felt just the opposite. And working from a house where the laundry machine’s overflowing and dinner’s burning in the oven may also mean family obligations distract us from professional responsibilities.

Before abandoning the office, consider whether teleworking is right for you. It takes strong self-discipline and motivation to produce results on the job when there’s no one else around. Here are some general guidelines to follow when working outside (or inside) the office:

Do you think it's possible to be productive working from home? Share your tricks with us in the comments below!


Image via MJTH/

By Katie Golde

March 19, 2013