Working from home can be a wonderful thing, especially for employees with long commutes and high gas bills. But, that’s not all. According to a recent Staples Advantage survey, telecommuters said it helps them maintain better work-life balance, while reducing stress levels by an average of 48 percent. While enticing, working from home requires greater responsibility and personal discipline for those that enjoy the privilege.

If telecommuting is an option you’re ready to entertain, here are five things you can do to make sure it’s a successful arrangement for you and your employer:

  1. Create a work environment conducive to productivity. Working from home may be more relaxed, but it still requires the right set-up to maximize productivity. Do you have the right equipment to get work done efficiently (computer, software, printer, fax, phone, head set, high-speed internet and network access)? Do you have a separate work area that minimizes household noise? Can you participate in conference calls without disturbances? Does your phone have a head set plug-in and a mute button? Think it through and make sure your home office is set up for optimal productivity.
  2. Stay focused. Working from home requires focus and discipline. Treat it the same way you would if you were going into the office. Get a white board and list out projects and priorities. Create goals, give yourself deadlines and segment your day accordingly. The more focused you stay, the better a telecommuting arrangement will work for you.
  3. Put in the hours. Don’t goof off just because you are working from home. Be assured, your boss is looking for evidence that you are getting work done. If you need to grab lunch or head out for a doctor’s appointment, set your status to ‘out of office’ and make up the time when you get back. Remember, you’ve eliminated your commute, so be diligent to put in a full day’s work.
  4. Stay connected. In today’s virtual work world, staying connected is easy to do—and particularly important when you are telecommuting. Don’t disappear off the radar just because you are working from home. Check your email regularly and respond promptly. Does your office use instant messaging? If so, set it up on your laptop and stay accessible. If you are unable to forward your work phone to your home office, provide a phone number where people can reach you and check voice mail regularly. 
  5. Be accountable. Keep track of your time. Note what projects were completed, the status of ongoing initiatives and how time was utilized. Keep a personal work log and be willing to share it with your boss. By making yourself accountable, you’re showing your boss you have what it takes to be a highly productive employee at home.

If you do these five things, you’ll prove you are a worker worthy of the privilege of telecommuting!