For the last few years, new technology and rising connectivity levels have been rewriting the rules for business culture. Practices such as telecommuting, which were once reserved for those at the very top of the corporate pyramid, are now considered beneficial for productivity, innovation and employee happiness.
If a 2012 survey by collaboration software company Wrike is anything go by, the telecommuting phenomenon is fast gathering steam - the report showed that 83 per cent of all respondents are working from home at least part of the day1. Although there's no denying the perks of working from the comfort of your living room, telecommuting is not without its dangers and professional pitfalls. Here's how to solve them.
Image is everything
Although working from home can be highly productive, it's not uncommon for major clients to question your professionalism or ability to do your job. That's why it's important that you tell them that you are working from your home office rather than working from home - otherwise it's easy to assume that you're doing your neighbourhood ironing for a small fee. Make sure you don't tell your clients you're based at a sprawling corporate headquarters when you're chasing deadlines from your living room. Misrepresenting your work situation will damage credibility and do your business relationships more harm than good.
The perils of being alone
Your home office might open up blissful windows of productivity, but the absence of workplace banter comes at a price. Sometimes being alone for long stretches can be daunting and demotivating - when you lack colleagues to bounce ideas off, the fallout can be frightening. Counter this by staying connected via Twitter, email or LinkedIn and make sure you consult your support network when the solitude gets too much. By reaching out, you gain the benefits of a digital community without the distraction and fuss.
The downside of domestic bliss
Does your toddler shriek each time you take an overseas conference call? Your dishwasher flood when you're battling the deadline crunch? Telecommuters need to exercise a form of damage control so that domestic issues don't hamper professional progress. Whether it's employing a babysitter or hiring a regular handyman, it's important that you set clear boundaries between your home life and your career. If you maintain a high level of professionalism, your living room can become the launching pad for your biggest career goals.
Dress for the occasion
Although ditching the suit for your flannel pyjamas might be a telecommuter's dream, saying goodbye to your working wardrobe isn't as appealing a prospect as it may first seem. Taking care of your professional appearance will help you forget that your lounge room doubles as a living space. You need to consider the hours you spend at your desk as business, not recreation - it's the best way to reap the benefits of an at-home workplace.
Telecommuting might bring its fair share of issues, but it can also promise some serious professional perks. If you make sure you treat your living room office as a sacred space, it's bound to revolutionise the way you work.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Neha Kale is a freelance writer and editor with over six years’ experience in the media and finance industries. She has held senior editorial positions at various business and technology publications and specialises in online strategy, innovation, creativity and management best practices.