By Ieva M. Augstums, AP Business Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Call it the workplace of the future: your home.
One way that companies are downsizing is to have employees work at home. When staffers telecommute, businesses can save money by moving to smaller quarters or consolidating separate locations into one.
Many workers are glad to have the opportunity. They join the people who have been telecommuting by choice ever since computers and high-speed Internet connections made working at home easier. Telecommuting can give employees a better work-life balance, and they save time and money when they're not traveling to work and buying coffee and lunch.
Still, workplace consultants and company executives say telecommuting can take some, well, work for someone who needs to adjust after years in an office. Some tips for making the transition:
BECOMING A TELECOMMUTER
It can take discipline to work at home. A telecommuter needs to be able to schedule realistically, prioritize and be able to stay focused on work despite distractions like children, pets, even the refrigerator.
"You can't be a person who thrives on boss-imposed deadlines and a boss looking over your shoulder," said Alexandra Levit, author of New Job, New You, and an adviser to the Obama administration on workplace issues.A brand-new telecommuter also has some logistics to work out. That means talking to the boss about what you'll need, and who's going to pay for it. Will you be using your own personal computer? If so, will you need to upgrade it to handle your workload? Will you need other equipment, like a fax machine or Web cam? What about an extra phone line?
If you have a family, you'll have to integrate the changes in your job into your children's routine. But remember that your work needs to be a priority. For example, if your kids want you to stop working when they come home from school so they can tell you how their day went, they need to know you can't always listen.
Leslie Truex, author of The Work at Home Success Bible, said a boss may not care about a telecommuter's child-care issues.