Money Power: Make working at home work for you
BY ANNE KATES SMITH Money Power
Sunday, December 30, 2012
12/30/12 at 5:29 AM
Before you can join the work-at-home revolution, you'll have to present the case for telework to your boss.
Remember that even in the most flexible offices, working at home is always a privilege and never a right. Don't ask to work at home full-time.
Let your boss know that you have a quiet place to work and that you have child care, if needed. Assure your employer that you'll be the only one using company-provided supplies or equipment and that company information will remain secure.
Detail how you intend to meet the needs of supervisors, clients and co-workers with work that's predictable, on-time and high-quality. Expect to start with a temporary arrangement to be re-evaluated after a specified period of time. (You may have to shell out some cash to stock a home office. Only about one-third of companies buy everything you need.)
Many free or inexpensive tools and apps can make the telecommuting life more efficient.
With Google Docs you can collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Use Google Talk or Yahoo Instant Messenger to chat with co-workers. Host a video conference with up to 10 people with Google Hangout. Dropbox lets you store up to 2 gigabytes of files free, for easy retrieval on any device that connects to the Internet.
Stay on-task and keep track of the time spent on projects with RescueTime; it also alerts you if you linger on sites you've deemed distracting.
Executing a work-at-home arrangement wisely can mean the difference between moving up the ladder and falling off it. Telecommuting works best if you can be evaluated on the results you produce rather than the time you put in. It's crucial to communicate what you're working on and share your progress and your calendar (and keep it up to date).
It goes without saying to respond promptly to calls and emails. When you are in the office, stop by the desks of colleagues and managers. And make a point of socializing, at least a little.
"It's important to show up for key moments when people are bonding - celebrations, parties the kick-off of a new product," said Ken Matos, senior director of Employment Research and Practice at the Families and Work Institute.
Go to lunch with the people you used to bat around ideas with in the break room. Just try to get back to your home office before rush hour.
Original Print Headline: Working at home may work for you
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.