Work at home: five tips to make it work for you

More than 26 million Americans “telecommute” and all signs point to the virtual workforce growing even faster in coming years. Indeed, 56 percent of senior leaders and hiring managers at Fortune 500 companies believe that the number of work-at-home employees will steadily or greatly increase at their companies, according to a recent survey by WorkSimple. With unemployment so high, job-seekers could benefit from this growing at-home job market. The benefits are compelling: better work/life balance and significantly lower commuting and work costs. Here are five pointers to make work at home work for you – and for your company:

By , Contributor

1. Find a quiet place to work

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    Eric Reeves, a Shakespeare professor at Smith College, works from his home office in Northampton, Mass., to help the Sudanese in this 2006 file photo. Homes offer so many distractions, it's important to pick an area for your home office that's conducive to work.
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It’s easy to be distracted by any number of things at home – the TV, radio, household chores, pets. Pick a location that is quiet, comfortable, and conducive to a productive day, including an ergonomically designed chair. This work space should be a distinct, separate area, ideally one that is designated as your home office.

This may require some upfront expenses, so compare those costs with the savings you can expect from working at home. For example, you may save:

  • An average of $1,000 a year by eating lunch at home instead of a restaurant or cafeteria.
  • Wear and tear on your car, an average 4.9 cents per mile, according to AAA.
  • On insurance. You may be eligible for a low-mileage discount on your car insurance when you work at home.
  • On clothing. Your attire need not be as formal in your home office as a corporate office.

In addition, some companies provide paid at-home training programs, again reducing the time and expenses of commuting and having to be in an office. If you want an easy way to calculate those savings, use the Lifestyle Benefits Calculator that we offer would-be applicants to our home agent program at Convergys, a Cincinnati-based relationship-management company that provides customer service from call centers and agent homes in the United States and around the world. 

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