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Do You Fit the Mold of a Telecommuter?

Lindsay Olson

Not everyone is cut out for telecommuting. It takes self-motivation and dedication to actually get work done out of the office. Many people simply can't handle the siren song of a kitchen full of snacks or a pile of laundry begging to be done, and don't get work finished when they're not in the office.

But if you want to give it a try, read on. Employers may look for different skill sets or characteristics if they're considering you for a work-from-home opportunity. A recent FlexJobs survey reveals a little about what the average telecommuter looks like. See how you stack up.

Why They Telecommute

Motivation for working virtually is different for everyone, but the No. 1 reason found in the study was to avoid distractions from co-workers (82 percent of those surveyed had this reason). Others were looking for work-life balance, more time to spend with their family, and to cut down on stress.

And these people know the benefits of work flexibility. Of those surveyed, 96 percent thought having a flexible job would save them time. Others focused on the cost savings--everything from not eating out on their lunch break to saving on gas costs, while others looked at the health benefits and reduced stress.

Who They Are

Employees who push for flexible work situations are well educated:

--82 percent have a college degree

--35 percent have a graduate degree

They also tend to have more work experience and skew slightly older: 30 to 59 years old. Most (three-fourths) live near a large city, which may speak to the fact that big-city businesses are more open to telecommuting and flexible work situations.

If you have never telecommuted before, your chances might be lower for getting a job that will allow you to. Three-fourths of those surveyed have worked in telecommuting roles in the past, which may make supervisors more comfortable about letting them do it in a new role. If you're pushing for your first flexible role, arm yourself with reasons you'll be more productive and work to set up milestones you'll meet each day so your boss knows you're getting work done.

Flexible Jobs Are Just That: Flexible

While most think of telecommuting when they think of flexible work schedules, those surveyed were open to other options, like partial telecommuting, part-time schedules, alternative schedules, or even freelance work. It seems the focus is more on valuing time over money, and full-time isn't always a requirement.

The Argument for Telecommuting

While some bosses might assume an employee wants to work from home to goof off, the people FlexJobs surveyed have a clear picture of what their flexible work schedule would look like. Nearly all believe their productivity would be improved working from home rather than in the office, and those interruptions from colleagues seem to be the key thing keeping them from getting more done at work. Office politics, commuting stress and office environment were other factors that those surveyed wanted to get away from so they could do their jobs better.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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