CatThe world took note a couple of years back when Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting at Yahoo. Until that point, we had all been watching what seemed to be the irresistible rise of working from home. Yahoo’s ban may have signaled the end of the honeymoon.

From then on, many employers adopted more critical views of telecommuting. We saw studies such as this one from Citrix, which found that 43 percent of remote workers admitted to watching TV or a movie while on the clock, and 20 percent said they had played video games while working from home. These findings really did not help telecommuting’s case.

What all of this means is that you can’t afford to take your telecommuting privileges for granted. If you want to become — or remain — a home-based worker, you’ll need to make a compelling case that shows you are as productive at home as you are in the office. To help you make such a case, I offer have these five tips:

1. Invest in High-Speed Broadband

Research shows that many homeworkers are being held back by slow Internet connections. In a survey published in Broadband Monthly, 72 percent of respondents admitted that they actually felt more productive in the office because of poor Internet connectivity at home. Similarly, 90 percent of those surveyed said that their home broadband connections were slower than their office connections, which negatively impacted their productivity.

As a homeworker, it’s in your best interest to invest in a high-end broadband connection that is as fast as or faster than the office connection.

2. Work at Your Most Productive Times

You’ll need approval from your boss, of course, but many people work better outside of the confines of the old 9-5 workday.

You can find out when you are most alert and productive using this morningness-eveningness quesionnaire (MEQFireworks). It will tell you when your most alert time of day, which is when you should be doing challenging tasks, as you’ll be more focused.

In your least alert time, on the other hand you’ll be more prone to distraction. As it turns out, this is actually a good time to do creative work, as your mind will be more open to alternative courses of action.

3. Make More Use of Cold-Calling Sweet Spots

Research shows that the best time of day to call and qualify a lead or set an appointment with a lead is between eight and nine in the morning. As a 9-5 office-based worker, you may frustratingly waste much of this sweet spot stuck in traffic. As a homeworker, though, you can take advantage of it, making you much more productive. 

4. Be as Available as an Office Worker

The last thing you want to do when working from home is disappear, making it harder for colleagues to reach you. If you can’t collaborate with coworkers, you’ll definitely harm your productivity. You may also damage your personal brand by seeming less reliable.

As a homeworker, you should be as accessible as your in-office colleagues. This means that your daily schedule, holidays, meetings, and commitments should be clear to your coworkers colleagues. You should also be able to communicate using a range of methods, including instant messaging, video chat, telephone, text messages, and email. If you miss calls or other communications, be sure to return them quickly.

5. Create a Productive Work Environment

What passes for a “productive” work environment may be different for different people. What’s important is that you create an environment that allows you to be at your most productive.

Are you more productive when you listen to music? If so, bring music into your home office. Did the constant distractions at work make you less productive? If so, you might want to set yourself up in a private, quiet room in your house. 

LaptopDon’t just work wherever at home – build a home-working environment, one that allows you to be at your absolute best.

By following some or all of these tips, you should be able to work more productively and effectively at home. That, in turn, should help you retain your home-working privileges at a time when telecommuting is coming under greater scrutiny.

Also, if you do notice tangible, quantifiable increases in productivity as a result of working from home, make sure to communicate this to your boss. This positive PR will help to cement your case for working from home even further.

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