Working from home isn’t so unusual these days

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Copyright SchulzWorking from home isn’t exactly a new concept, so I was surprised to see it was a headline story on NPR today. Then I read the actual story, which is yet another lesson not to judge a book by its cover or an article by its headline. Adam Hochberg’s article and the accompanying audio story look at how commonplace telecommuting has become and at the attitudes employees and employers have toward it.

Hochberg points out that many companies give employees an option to telecommute on occasion, but some workers worry about how it reflects on their reputation.

University of Maryland marketing professor P.K. Kannan says his research has found that about a third of people who can telecommute rarely do so, often because they’re afraid their boss won’t like it.

“It seemed like there was some stigma associated with telecommuting,” Kannan says. “Some people are saying it’s a career suicide. ‘If you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind, so I really don’t want to telecommute even though I could.’ “

And people aren’t just telecommuting on designated days, either. Some companies only exist in the virtual world because workers are spread out. No storefronts, no skyscrapers, no strip malls—just a band of remote employees.

I recommend reading the story if you’re thinking about working from home. Jobs that allow you to work from your home office some or all of the time are often the most sought after, and yet people don’t realize what a culture shock telecommuting can be, especially if they’re used to cubicle world.

We have discussed the topic several times, specifically here and here, which might help you if you’re on the fence about taking one of these positions.

For those of you who have worked from home on a temporary or permanent basis, did you like it? Did you hate it? Is it something you would do again (if you’re not still doing it)? Seeing as so many job seekers are looking to these jobs, your firsthand experiences are welcome in the comments section!

  1. I’ve now worked for the same company in a telecommute role for 8.5 years. It started off as 80% telecommute/20% office, but is now truly 100% telecommute.

    The article is interesting. Here’s my take on it.

    My direct manager is always in sync with what I have on my agenda each day and what work I am accomplishing. That is essential. If you have a manager who gives you a lot of “space” and doesn’t micromanage, that is normally great. But, when you telecommute you really do need a manager that is ok with frequent phone calls, instant messages or e-mails. If you your manager feels you are just around the corner because you’re constantly in contact it eliminates the out of sight, out of mind issue.

    I have felt jealousy from others who are not in a telecommute situation. That is something else every telecommuter will face at times. If it’s not my manager feeling that way, I let it go. There is nothing good that can come from that.

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  3. It absolutely is career suicide! I worked for a company who encouraged working from home, but once you get a manager who doesn’t like it, you are on the chopping block. You don’t have the advantage of having that face-to-face interaction, people forget about you, and you just become a serial number. I loved it until I got laid off. Will never do it again.

  4. It’s so frustrating that it takes nature’s wrath to get people really thinking about telecommuting. While the federal workforce is leading the way, there’s still a long way to go both there and in the private sector. Yes, there are issues to be worked out, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Also consider that telecommuting doesn’t have to be a full time thing–in fact, the national average is 2.4 days a week.

    Fact is, less than 3% of the U.S. workforce (2.4 million people) works from home the majority of the time (not including the self-employed), but 40% hold telecommuting-compatible jobs. If those who could telecommute did so just half of the time:

    - The nation would save 453 million barrels of oil (57% of Gulf oil imports)—a national savings of $31 billion per year (at $70/barrel)
    - The environment would be saved from 84 million tons or greenhouse gases a year—that’s over 40% of President Obama’s goal for GHG reduction by 2020.
    - The energy potential from the gas savings alone would total than twice what the U.S. produces from all renewable energy source combined.
    - National productivity would increase by 6.2 million man-years or $200 billion worth of work each year.
    - Businesses would save $194 billion annually in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, and turnover.
    - Employees would individually save between $2,500 and $11,000 in transportation and work-related costs (not including daycare and eldercare costs)
    - Employees would gain back an extra 2.5 weeks worth of time per year—time they’d have otherwise spent commuting.
    - Communities would save over $3 billion in highway maintenance because 180 billion fewer miles would be driven each year.
    - 150,000 people/year would be saved from traffic-related injury or death.
    - $18 billion a year would be saved in accident-related costs.

    In total, that’s an economic impact of over $750 billion a year.

    These conclusions come from the web-based Telework Savings Calculator ( Based on the latest U.S. Census American Community Survey figures and data from over a dozen authoritative studies, the model quantifies what every city, county, region, Congressional District, and State in the nation could save through telework. A custom calculator allows companies to change dozens of our standard assumptions to better model their own situations. It has been used by hundreds of company and community leaders throughout the U.S. and Canada to make the case for more telework.

    Frustrated, by managements’ reluctance to allow their employees work untethered, we aimed our popular-press book Undress For Success — The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home (John Wiley & Sons 2009,, at creating a ground-up telework movement by empowering employees to negotiate, find, or create work at home employment. It has won the praise of work-life and telework advocates including the Telework Coalition, Telework Canada, WorldatWork, and many others.

    It’s time we made the road less traveled the way to work.

  5. Yes, I worked out home for a company for several years. I liked it at first as this company offered me a salary to work from home. I had no benefits and no logistic help, meaning admin support. Everything fell on me. Of course, like most companies do, they put you on total %100 commission and take your salary away.

    So, I think working on home has it pros and cons. You must be focused daily. If you can, try to get some admin help so you can focus on what you were hired to do. If the company willnot pay for it, see if you can get someone part time for at least $10 a hour. But, please, do not do all the work yourself…..You will just get frustrated. Also, make sure you and your team members or managers stay in touch weekly or you go in the office at least once a week. It does get lonely, but your pretty busy during the day and the day goes fast.

    I liked the freedom from working at home. No office politics and no gossipy women. You can get alot more work done if you are focused and most important to manage your day since there is no boss on top of you telling you what to do every minute.

    What I didn’t like about working at home is you did everything.. In other words, you were the secretary, the adminstrative person, the sales person, the human resource person. So you never got alot done because you were wearing too many hats.

    One more thing, it is not really that glamourous to have a job at home because you are still responsibile for the work getting done.

    One bad part is that your work is always at home so you end up doing it on weekends and weeknights. There are no boundaries between work and home because it is mix together.

    Also, make sure you have alot of space whenyou work at home because your personal stuff gets combined with your business stuff.

    Hope this all helps you!

  6. I’ve worked at home for the last ten years. I make visits to the office at least 2 to 3 times per week for meetings so I do get “face” time with the boss. I felt like I was more productive (even working through lunch most days at my desk) and enjoyed the luxury of not having a coworker sitting next to me popping gum.

    I think more employers should get on board with telecommuting. I found no down sides to it as long as I did get in those weekly meetings in person.

  7. I worked from home four days a week for a year and I loved it! It was of benefit to both me and my employer.

    My extension rang at my house and I also had e-mail and interoffice IMs. I was so afraid they’d make me come back to the office that I responded to everything immediately.

    I also have health issues, so when I worked from home I started my day fresh, rather than already exhausted and in pain just from the 35 mile commute.

    Because of where my office is, nobody sees me even when I am there. In fact, for the first six months I didn’t tell anyone and they didn’t even know I wasn’t physically present.

    Due to the nature of my job, I am always working to deadline. If I wasn’t doing my job, it would have been immediately apparent to the entire company. Like many others, I got more work done at home than I did when I was going in. I didn’t fall prey to working outside of office hours, though. I have a job, not a career, so when they day/week was over, it was over.

    I work almost exclusively in a database, so it doesn’t matter where I am. I did go in every Friday and also on other days if there was a meeting I needed to attend. People, including my supervisor, didn’t see any less of me than they already had been.

    It was amazing and I wish I could do it again!

  8. Given the current concerns about green house emissions and dwindling energy supplies I think it would be in our national interest to give more people the opportunity to telecommute. Of course only a certain percentage can do this, we can’t expect frontline workers like nurses, doctors, emt’s, etc to telecommute. With the technology we have and the savings it would boost our economy.

  9. Watch 3 videos, than contact me if you have an interest in working with Wellness company with 30 years of experience in 73 countries & traded on NYSE. I started part time but after my first year, my husband was able to quit his 17 year corporate career and join me. toll free ph 866.744.1805 Love working at home!

  10. Communication with supervisors and other staff is critical. I have worked for a company where most employees telecommuted. Spread out all over the U.S., Europe and India. If you like to be ‘social’ in a water-cooler situation then it can be lonely. I found that I work better without distractions, take less sick days and am always on time for work.
    Some companies don’t realize the benefits of allowing those positions that are suitable the opportunity.

  11. Has anyone heard of “co-working”? It is shared workspace for telecommuters, entrepreneurs and those working independently in any given career. Co-working spaces exist worldwide where someone who misses the socialization/camaraderie of office space can work side by side with others without getting involved in gossip, office politics or other downside effects of a cube. Co-working is available on a monthly, weekly or daily basis depending on individual needs. If you enter co-working and a given city on a search engine you may find one near you. People using them love it and it is a growing trend.

  12. Hi
    I have one question in my mind.. is companies( small ones)which offer the work from home are reliable..I came across a job posting for work from home…in and i checked the link.. everything was fine until I happen to google the company’s name and found that it is faux….read about some reviews then got to know they wont pay and all..
    Another question is by working frm through computer is there any risk of our computer contents being leaked or hacked???

    I am still looking forward to work from home,,If anybody knows reliable will be great..

  13. Working from home for a company is not the only option. Freelancing from home is a great way to earn a decent income. You can freelance in fields ranging from web design to content writing. I have been making a decent supplemental income part time online freelance writing for websites and companies that use article marketing. There is an article on Hubpages that talks about some of the freelance options. You can view the article at you can also join hubpages and find additional articles by going to

  14. I currently work from home and it’s ok. i feel like i miss out on alot of meetings because either the company doesnt want to involve me or because my boss doesnt know how to communicate. It’s kind of hard to figure out what is going on in your company when you live 1200 miles away. And when i do try to get face time with my boss he’s never ever around when i’m there. I feel like with this particular company it is career suicide.

    Jessica: how was your travel paid for going back every 2 to 3 weeks?

  15. Working from home can create you a FULL TIME income with less office drama :) List of ways to earn from home:

    Website Design


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