How to make working from home work

By Reid Kanaley The Philadelphia Inquirer

Working from home sounds like a great idea. But is it? Home- and mobile-office life may have advantages, but perhaps not for everyone. See if it could work for you.

Pick the right occupation: This 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Labor said 12 percent of all workers were working at home on an average day. The percentage rose to 20 percent for occupations in computer and mathematical sciences, 34 percent for the self-employed, and a whopping 55 percent for those self-employed in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media. If working at home is your goal, such numbers may help you plan accordingly;

Be wary of monitoring: Some companies use computer monitoring and other methods to be sure at-home workers aren’t slacking off, says this Wall Street Journal article available for free at the Yahoo Finance website. Employers recognize the temptation facing telecommuters to get distracted from work, and many expect that at-home workers will take time for chores and errands, but see monitoring as a way to spot employees who need help, or are taking advantage of the system;

First, get a job: If you are searching for a job you can do from home, there are many pitfalls in answering online work-at-home come-ons, says Sylvie Fortin, author of “You Can Work in Your PJs,” an excerpt of which is here. Among her recommendations is to search for a regular job that you’d like, then work out at-home terms with the employer;

Work at home myths: The Home Office area at has advice on the benefits and challenges of at-home work. For example, the whole family has to be on board to know the limits of your “work” time while at home. Myths about the successful at-home work include the notion that you’ll make your own hours and, in spite of a book title noted above, that it’s a good idea to work in your pajamas;

Get set up: offers some advice on how to actually pick a space, and arrange the furniture and technology for a home office;