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Question: We are a recruiting firm for computer professionals. About four years ago, one of our employees, a man in his 30s, decided he wanted to operate out of his home. Part of his reasoning was that his productivity would increase if he saved time commuting and avoided all of the distractions in the office. After four years of this, he has decided he wants to come back inside. He tells us that he’s gotten tired of ducking into the laundry room to field phone calls while his babies are screaming in the background. Wasn’t telecommuting going to solve his productivity problems? What are the keys to productivity that he evidently is missing?

Answer: While some people adapt well to working from home, telecommuting isn’t for everyone. Still, more and more people are working from home — the Bureau of National Affairs tells us that at least 15 million Americans do so everyday. Being self-starting and self-disciplined is the foundation for being successful working from home. Absent these attributes, people can really struggle with the lack of structure offered by a home-based office. Additionally, as your question points out, home is not always the most professional setting. Conducting telephone conversations or interviews with crying babies in the background simply does not send the right message.

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Daniel A. Schroeder, Ph.D. is president of Brookfield based Organization Development Consultants Inc. ( He can be reached at 262-827-1901 or Read More »

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