Work from Home, Save Your Heart

Too much commuting can be a strain on your heart.

By Leah Zerbe


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long commute raises your risk of heart disease. • Know when to ask. Rhodes says you shouldn't expect to work from home when you start a new job. "You're more successful at getting it approved if you're with the company at least six months," she explains. "You already know the culture and technology by then."

• Ace the pitch. When you ask to telecommute, start off with just a day or two a week to see how that goes, suggests Rhodes. Cite studies that show work productivity increases when working from home, but also be sure to explain steps to secure your work, too. For instance, having a home security system could prevent a burglar from stealing a laptop with important company information. If approved, tell your boss you will work with IT to make sure you work behind firewalls and avoid security problems.

• Be honest. Working from home can be a win-win situation, saving employers money and boosting employee performance, and improving quality of life for commuting workers who may feel their work-personal life balance is way out of whack. Some employees work from home because an elderly parent is sick, or so they can spend time they'd otherwise lose to a commute with their children. If you have kids, though, Rhodes warns, you should be sure to let your boss know you have dependent care set up. Working from home doesn't mean you should spend your time babysitting.

• Be professional in your pajamas. Even if you don't get dressed up to work from home, you still need to be professional. Hit deadlines, don't allow your dog to be barking in the background of important phone calls with clients, and be sure to send your boss a list of tasks accomplished either every day or week, whatever your boss prefers.

• Ask about four 10s. Your employer may want you to be in the office every work day, but may agree to four 10-hour work days, which could reduce the time you sit during a long commute by one day a week.

• Propose summer hours. Contact your HR department to see if your company offers a summer hours program, and if not, ask them if they'd consider it. During the warmer summer months, employees work a little longer days on Monday through Thursday, but then leave early Friday. Even if this doesn't have an effect on your commute—except for missing rush-hour traffic—doing this improves the work-personal life balance for workers and helps companies save on air-conditioning costs during hot afternoon days.