Money Power: Working from home could be right for you
BY ANNE KATES SMITH Money Power
Saturday, December 29, 2012
12/29/12 at 5:54 AM
Anyone who has ever sat in traffic on the way to or from work has dreamed of telecommuting. Others are driven to distraction - literally - by the hustle and bustle of the office and the constant interruptions that punctuate life in the cubicle. And every 9-to-5er knows that the cost of gasoline plus dry cleaning and lunches out can put a serious dent in the family budget.
Estimates for the number of Americans working at home at least some of the time range from 16 million to as many as 30 million. In a study this year by the Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management, 63 percent of employers surveyed reported that some of their employees work at home occasionally, up from 34 percent in 2005.
Another 50 million employees, with jobs that are compatible with at least part-time telework, would jump at the chance to give it a try, according to the Telework Research Network, a business consulting and telework advocacy firm.
Some workers even say they'd give up a raise for the chance to stay home sometimes.
The benefits to both teleworkers and their bosses are significant, work-at-home advocates say. Employees can save $2,000 to $7,000 annually in transportation and work-related costs, according to Telework Research Network president Kate Lister.
You might be able to shave child-care costs (but not during working hours), and some workers can qualify for home-office and other business deductions. The average home-office deduction amounts to $2,000 for teleworkers, Lister says, resulting in a tax savings of nearly $600 for someone in the 28 percent bracket. But you'll qualify only if your boss requires you to work at home.
For details from the Internal Revenue Service, go to tulsaworld.com/workathome
Successful telecommuters have similar traits. They're good communicators and have impeccable time-management skills. They're proactive, self-starting and self-disciplined; motivation comes from within. They also don't mind working in solitude, without the camaraderie of colleagues every day.
You might be perfect for telework, but your job must be suited to it.
Are your client meetings predictable? Are your main forms of contact email and phone? Can you group together duties to be done at home on a regular basis? Do your performance ratings meet or exceed expectations?
A yes to all those questions may indicate that telecommuting is a good fit for you.
Working with classified information, needing access to paper documents or being an entry-level employee, however, could put the kibosh on your work-at-home plans. Find out whether your job lends itself to telework by using the Eligibility Gizmo at tulsaworld.com/teleworkexchange
Original Print Headline: Working at home could be a beneficial option
Anne Kates Smith is a senior editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. To send her a question or comment, go to tulsaworld.com/kiplingerfeedback