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How to Advance Your Career While Working from Home

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

Working from home is like a dream come true for most people. Imagine not having to deal with terrible weather or traffic jams or other commuters every morning and evening. Imagine scuffling around in pajamas and slippers at 3 p.m. or stopping for a cup of coffee (and a quick peek at the TV) any time you want to. Imagine curling up on your sofa during the Monday morning meetings.

As glorious as that might sound, the dream of working from home can quickly become a career nightmare if you don't know how to manage it. I'm not even talking about giving into the urge to slack off and missing deadlines or important meetings; I'm talking about how working from home can hurt your chances for promotion.

According to a recent study, 60% of executives downgraded tele-commuters' advancement chances compared to those employees that they see on a regular basis in a traditional office setting.

That's the bad news.

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The good news is that 78% of executives still regarded tele-commuters as productive employees and assets to the company.
What does that mean for you tele-commuters out there?

It means that you need to understand exactly who your manager is and what they're perspective on all of this is to see whether it's going to have a dramatic impact on your advancement with your career.

The age of your boss can be a huge factor in determining his or her stance on tele-commuting. What age group does your boss fall into? Those executives that fall into that "baby boomer" age group are going to be much more traditional. They're going to equate the amount of time they physically see you staying late in the office to commitment. Whereas, a younger boss might have a less traditional view. They may be able to take a good look at results versus actual face time. Remember, this younger group grew up in an electronic age where technology - and the perks that come along with it - is the norm. As the age of managers decrease and the "baby boomers" start to retire, a more non-traditional perspective will start to emerge and take hold in the workplace.

In the meantime, tele-commuters need to be proactive - especially about the concept of increasing their visibility. How do you demonstrate that you are fully engaged and working to advance your career even though you might be in your pajamas at home?

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The first thing you need to do is communicate more frequently that you would if you were physically at the office. Remember: out of sight, out of mind. You've got to keep yourself in front of your boss, even if it's virtually.

Try using Instant Messaging. As long as you follow proper etiquette with IMs, it can be a great way to stay in front of and a part of the whole office community.

Speak up during conference calls. Always say your name before making a point so that you get your name cued up with the ideas that are bringing the company forward.

If you concentrate on making sure that you're in your boss's mind and that you're a very present force in the company, you will still be able to advance your career - even in your bathrobe.

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�It isn�t until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are � not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within � that you can begin to take control.� Oprah Winfrey