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Did you know that more than 5.8 million of you do not go to work in an office? That’s the number of people working at home, says new data by  the U.S. Census Bureau. The figures are from 2010, the last year calculated, and the results are 4.2 million more people than a decade ago.

Makeda Smith has worked at home most of her career and remembers when it was not a widely-accepted concept. “I initially began working from home 25 years ago. It was not a very popular concept back then and office spaces were perceived as status symbols,” recalls Smith, owner of  Jazzmyne Public Relations, a boutique agency.  “But as a new agency owner two things were more important to me. One, I wanted to be able to spend more quality time with my daughter who was five years old at the time and two, I needed to streamline my finances. Ironically, people used to say things to me back then, ‘Don’t tell folks you work at home–they won’t take you seriously as a business owner!'”

The report, Home-Based Workers in the United States: 2010, found that the number of people who worked at home at least one day per week increased from 9.5 million in 1999 to 13.4 million in 2010, up 7  percent to 9.5 percent of all workers. Between 2005 and 2010 the share grew from 7.8 percent to 9.5 percent of all workers, an increase of more than 2 million. In all, 5.8 million or 4.3 percent of the U.S. workforce worked the majority of the week at home in 2010. “Home-based workers increased by 133 percent among state government workers and 88 percent among federal government workers. There was a 67 percent increase in home-based work for employees of private companies,” according to the report.

For Smith, the benefits of working at home more than outweigh the negatives. “You don’t have to get up to battle traffic in the morning, you don’t have to get dressed to go to work and you make your own hours,” she tells us. “And in terms of office politics and interacting with different personalities and people’s mood swings, there are none.”

One downside, says Smith, is the tendency to overwork. “I end up putting in far more than 40 hours a work week. I had to train myself to take ‘me’ time,” she says.

Smith shares her 5 tips  on how to work at home successfully:

1) Create an office space in your home.  An office space does not have to be an entire room but just an area dedicated to your work.

2) Make daily “to do lists” so you know you are accomplishing your goals and staying on track with work.

3) Be sure to take breaks.  Factor in lunch breaks, daily walks, or an exercise class, etc. Sometimes working at home can consume you.

4) Don’t let other people’s perception of your time and workspace adversely influence you.  If someone calls to chit-chat because they know you are at home, let them know that just because you are at home, it doesn’t mean you are not working.

5) Celebrate and give thanks daily. Working at home is a true blessing.

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