Yes, it's a dream come true for many, and you might be very productive working on the couch in your pajamas.
But for others, it's more like sticking a kid in a candy store armed with cash, but telling them to buy only Tootsie Rolls (and nobody wants just Tootsie Rolls).
The good news is that there are ways to prepare yourself to telecommute that vastly improve your odds for success. You have to be honest with yourself about how easily you're distracted.
Do you like to hit the ground running in the morning and naturally prioritize tasks? You'll do great! If the snooze button is your best friend and you tend to spread yourself too thin, you'll need to make some adjustments.
Here are six steps to get started:
1. Define your workspace
Some people can work diligently from the couch, and even with the TV on (though likely on mute). Others need some serious separation between work and leisure time.
If you can dedicate a spare room for your office, that's great for the latter group. Otherwise, any dedicated workspace such as a desk in a quiet area free from distraction should work.
2. Set your hours
Type A people might naturally get up at a decent hour, get to work and have timely breaks throughout the day. If that's not you, it's time to set a schedule for yourself similar to a "regular" job. This might mean setting an alarm, sticking to lunch and gym breaks, and "clocking in and out" at regular intervals. It's up to you how much scheduling you really need.
3. Write down daily tasks
It's no secret that a lot of office workers have oodles of down time, but they get paid for being there, not necessarily for how much work gets done. That may or may not be the case with you, depending on your telecommuting arrangement.
If you're paid as long as you answer calls and emails, that's fine. If you're compensated by the project (as in freelancing), it's best to write down what needs to be done daily and track the income to ensure you make a decent salary.
4. Know your multi-tasking limits
One of the great advantages of telecommuting is you have more time. There's no commute, and you can sometimes slip away to the gym whenever you'd choose. Basically, you have a looser schedule.
However, if you think you can care for a toddler and give 100 percent to a full-time telecommuting job, you'll burn out quickly. Know your limits.
5. Don't take your work home with you
When your work is your home, this aspect can be challenging. Sometimes you may have to work into the wee hours, but this shouldn't be a regular thing.
Just because you work from home doesn't mean you work any less than a "regular" employee. In fact, some telecommuters are never fully off the clock.
Make time for yourself, your hobbies, your family, and your loved ones. Don't take your work on vacation, or try to work during family time, or otherwise cheat yourself or other people just because your work is always within reach.
People naturally want to walk around an office, socialize, go on walks, and otherwise move about. At home, it's too easy to turn into a couch potato.
If exercising and stretching isn't something you crave, make sure you schedule it into your day and get motivated. Your health should not be neglected.
Ready to start skipping those long commutes and slipping into something a little more comfortable for work? Telecommuting is possible, but make sure you're prepared for it.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA. When she isn't writing, she is outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school.