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5 telecommuting tips to try today

If you're interested in working from home, but your boss isn't very receptive to your request, you might just have to wait it out a few more years. A new study from the London Business School and Deloitte predicts that half of us will be telecommuting by 2020.

But if you're already telecommuting, congratulations on being ahead of the wave of the future. Here's how to maximize that practice today.

Don't think of telecommuting as an all-or-nothing proposition

You might want to work a couple days in the office and a few days away, depending on your job. "Doing this allows you the best of both worlds in some ways, so that you can focus on collaboration when you're in the office and then really focus on your work with fewer interruptions when you're in your home office," says Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs, a career search firm specializing in jobs with flexible work schedules.

Keep your family out of it

If you're a parent, you can't count on working while the children nap -- unless you're working part-time, and even that's an unreliable system. "This is an all-around bad idea that will sabotage your ability to work from home when (not if) your child cries in the background, picks up the phone line and starts dialing when you're on a conference call, or turns up the volume on the show he/she is watching so that it's blaring in the background," says Sutton Fell.

If daycare or a nanny isn't in your budget, consider a mother's helper, a less-experienced sitter who can watch your child while you're in your home office (if you're needed, you'll be within arm's reach).

Don't work in the coffee shop, on your couch or in your backyard

Home offices are the obvious choice, but many rental options are available, from small office spaces to shared co-working spaces where you can rent a desk for a fraction of the price of renting your own office.

"Having a place set aside for your work helps you to make a distinction between your personal life and your work life," says Cheryl Palmer owner of Call to Career, a career coaching company. And that can help you be more efficient -- and happier (which is probably one of the reasons you wanted to telecommute in the first place).

Do spend some time in the office

Face-time with colleagues is always crucial, but never more so than when you can't just bump into someone at the water cooler or in the elevator. So, be sure to pop into the office regularly, and join your colleagues at team-building events like happy hour.

"This will help you stay connected with what's going on in the office. It's also an opportunity to let not just your boss but your co-workers know, what you are doing. Your co-workers may be tempted to think that you're just goofing off," says Palmer. That resentment can lead to strained relationships and less efficiency when collaborating on projects.

Don't be careless with technology

Be careful to protect your computer, as well as any sensitive files or other documentation you'll have in your home office. "Don't leave your password on your computer, and lock away your computer and other sensitive information. Lots of people have access to your home, not to mention coffee shops or other places you might work, who don't have access to your office," says David Couper, CEO of David Couper Consulting, a talent development firm. Your employer may be able to hook you into a VPN (a virtual private network), which will keep company information more secure.

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