A Telecommuter’s Guide: Working from Home

Ryan Bennion

Employees working remotely — or telecommuting — has become the norm for 38 percent of companies, and that number will only continue to grow. Telecommuting is ideal for individuals who wish to work from home while maintaining a steady job with a company, as opposed to working as a freelancer or owning their own small business.

Today, multiple industries offer telecommuting capabilities, including fields you may not expect, from marketing and accounting to sales and customer service. If you’re curious about the benefits of telecommuting or how you can work from home, follow our guide.

Advantages of Telecommuting

Working from home can be advantageous for both you and your employer in a number of ways.

  • Increased Productivity: A Stanford study found that people who worked remotely made 13.5 percent more calls than those who were in the office. This added up to a company gaining the equivalent of an extra workday a week out of each telecommuter. Those same remote workers were more satisfied with their job and were half as likely to quit.
  • Reduced Stress: Research conducted by Staples revealed that telecommuters experience 25 percent less stress than employees working in the office. As a result, the remote workers were also happier and healthier — and they were more inclined to be productive and require less sick time.
  • Greater Creativity: Studies show that people are at their most creative early in the morning and late at night, not during the typical nine-to-five workday. Working remotely allows employees to work during their most productive and creative times, whether that’s late at night or before sunrise.

Negotiating for Working from Home

Even if your company doesn’t have a telecommuting policy in place, you can still speak with your boss about working remotely. Start by creating a list of your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and note which ones can be performed remotely and which ones must be done in the office. This will give you a good idea of how realistic your telecommuting opportunities are. You will also want to discern how you can successfully complete these duties at home, outline a suggested work schedule, and explain how you will submit completed projects.

With your proposal in hand, schedule a meeting with your employer to review. Ideally, avoid approaching your employer on a hectic day and find a time after you have successfully finished a project instead. Remember, a negotiation will likely involve compromise. If telecommuting isn’t common at your workplace, consider presenting a few different remote work options, such as working part time at home and part time in the office. After six months, you and your supervisor can discuss expanding your part-time telecommuting to full-time.

Security Measures to Take

A major telecommuting concern for employers is keeping company information and data safe from hackers. It’s important for telecommuters to follow safety best practices to avoid hacks or leaked information. At the most basic level, don’t open emails from unfamiliar addresses or that have been marked as spam. Make sure your laptop, smartphone, and tablet automatically lock when not in use, and use unique, complex passwords — a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters — for every device and program login.

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To help further ensure your documents are protected from hackers, never use a public or non-password-protected Wi-Fi network. Depending on their settings, laptops, tablets, and smartphones will automatically connect to any Wi-Fi network they can access. Change the settings so you must manually connect to networks, and then connect only to those you know and trust. You can also discuss setting up a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts data and allows a company to determine which company folders and information a remote user can access.

Managing Expenses and Cutting Costs

A business can potentially save $11,000 per year in reduced overhead if they allow employees to work from home for half the work week. While working from home can save a business money, telecommuters may worry about having to pick up the tab for business expenses, including computers, security and firewall software, Internet, and phone services. First, discuss with your employer the possibility of the company covering these costs. Often, many companies will pay for these services or provide a stipend.

If you are paying for the services yourself, you can cut costs by bundling business services, such as your Internet, email, web services, and phone line. These business services, such as the CenturyLink Business Bundle, may include anti-virus security, Cloud data backup, 24/7 tech support, file storage and sharing, and high-speed Internet, which is essential for getting your work done efficiently. By bundling these services, they can together qualify as a business expense, saving you money come tax season.

Telecommuting provides you an opportunity to cut back on gas and transportation expenses, reduce stress, increase your productivity, and find more creative freedom. Once you understand how to negotiate for remote work, secure and protect sensitive documents, and manage expenses, you can reap the many advantages of being a telecommuter.

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