Working from home still gets a bad rap, even though it’s grown by 41 percent over the last decade, according to a Sept. 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report. We just can’t seem to shake the image of slackers in their pajamas eating chocolates and watching movies while they pretend to work from their couch. But the truth of working from home is that, rather than bringing out your inner slacker, it can actually make you a more productive professional.

More companies are embracing working from home as a viable option, either during emergency situations like Hurricane Sandy when getting to the office isn’t an option, or on a regular basis to save on real estate and overhead costs. If you’d like to work from home, use the following stats to convince your boss that you’ll be just as, if not more, productive at home as you would be in the office.

Avoid distracting colleagues.

A recent survey of 800 job seekers looking for work-from-home jobs found that the number one reason they wanted a telecommuting job was to avoid distracting colleagues. Not to eliminate their commute, to have more time for their families, or to save on costs like business clothes, lunches out, and gas. When you work at home, you can eliminate this major distraction and focus on getting your work done.

Control how often you’re interrupted.

A study by the University of California, Irvine found that workers are interrupted every three minutes, and that it takes over 20 minutes to get back on task after an interruption! Half the time, we’re self-interrupting (checking Facebook, listening to talk radio, etc.), but the other half of the time, we’re interrupted by outside forces – loud noises, colleagues stopping by our cubes, impromptu meetings being called, other people’s conversations carrying throughout the office, and so on. We can eliminate 50 percent of our interruptions by working from home.

Take less sick time and fewer personal days.

People who are sick enough to call in sick to work tend to keep working if they can do so from home. We’re not saying this is the healthiest practice, but it’s the reality of what happens, especially if the sickness is minor, like a small cold or stomach bug. Working from home is a win-win for employers because a) you’re still working, and b) you aren’t passing your germs along to your colleagues, so it keeps everyone more productive. Of course, it works the other way around as well, if you’re working from home regularly, you’re less exposed to illnesses from your colleagues as well. Fewer sick days is a great reason to work from home!

Studies show it just does.

Last year, Stanford University tracked the productivity of 250 customer service employees who worked from home for nine months, as compared to their office-bound counterparts, and the results weighed heavily in the telecommuters’ favor. The employees who worked from home took 15 percent more calls and worked 11 percent more hours than their office-bound coworkers. Overall productivity for the telecommuters was 4 percent higher than for office-bound workers. A similar study by the University of Minnesota done with 600 Best Buy headquarters employees found the same results.

Of course, how productive you are when working from home depends a lot on you, the employee. How do you work without supervision? Are you self-disciplined and good at self-management? Can you avoid temptations like television, napping, and shopping in the middle of the day? Some people prefer the office environment because it provides more structure and oversight, so before you jump into working from home, you need to first evaluate yourself.

Featured photo credit:  cute young woman with laptop via Shutterstock

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