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What’s the first image that pops in your mind when you think of people who work from home? If it is somebody wearing casual pajamas and lying in bed with their laptop, you’re one of many to have fallen into the trap of the working-shirking from home cliché.

In fact, the idea of office-based productivity is so deeply anchored in the collective mindset that it is increasingly difficult for most home-based workers to feel positive about their performance. It doesn’t mean you can’t tackle challenging projects and heavy workload in your home office.

On the contrary, home-based employees and freelancers are more likely to maximize their productivity and creativity. Indeed, removing most office-related interruptions and disturbances – from commuting stress to co-workers’ disruptions – can improve not only your mental focus but also the quality of your input. In other words, people who work from home work more and better. However, they tend to be worse about their contribution, doubting their professionalism and compensation with prolonged working hours.

How do you create a professional feeling – for yourself and your clients – when you can’t rely on the office to give your business skills the structure the universal conscience expects? How do you convince others to take you seriously and see beyond the PJs cliché?

It’s the question that keeps countless solo entrepreneurs and freelancers awake at night. Injecting professionalism in an environment that is not commonly associated with high-quality work is challenging, but it’s not impossible! Here are a few ideas to get started:

Working from home doesn’t have to mean losing professionalism!

Working from home doesn’t have to mean losing professionalism!

Dedicate a room at home just for your work

To keep the PJs cliché at bay, you need to pay close attention to your working environment. You may not need to commute to the workplace, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have an office. On the contrary, creating a home office enables you to keep your work and your home separate.

If you’re still trying to complete projects on the corner of your breakfast table, it’s time to plan some much-needed improvements. Designing your home office is crucial, not only to your productivity but also to your perception of your work. You’re more likely to take your work seriously if you’ve got a space for it.

Organizing your home office is the secret to making a small room feel just as competent and professional as the typical business workplace. Consequently, you need to focus your attention on establishing a clear storage system. You can’t afford to keep loose sheets and stationery in random piles on the desk.

Knowing where everything is is the administrative baseline of your office. Keeping everything tidy and clean is the foundation of office management. And finally, keeping track of your budget through the organization replaces the work accountant. In short, you’ve got yourself a functional office place at home.

Getting the right equipment is fundamental

You can’t cut costs on your work equipment. At the top of the list, you want to make sure you’ve got the office devices you need. You can’t achieve anything without a reliable laptop or computer and a broadband connection.

Your home office also needs a printer – nobody can go entirely paperless –, work software tools and a phone – whether mobile or a Google Voice line. Additionally, as each business is different, you will need to explore your equipment requirements in depth. If you need to meet clients regularly, you might be interested in finding out more about leasing a car for your independent business, for instance. A car lease would give you access to a new vehicle, which encourages a positive first impression when you visit clients.

If you take it seriously, others will

Your behavior can influence the way you feel about your business. There’s no denying that working in casual pajamas can be a comfortable option, but that’s precisely what gives an unprofessional impression.

Indeed, your brain instinctively becomes more relaxed when you wear your night clothes, meaning that you won’t be as productive. Instead, if you make the conscious decision to dress up for work, you create a mental barrier between home life and professional life. It’s all it takes to build a professional attitude at home.

For your family and friends, seeing you getting dressed for work and staying consistent with your schedule encourage them to take you seriously. As a result, relatives are less likely to disturb you when you’re at home because they know you’re working.

Practice your conversational skills with clients

People who work from home tend to have fewer professional interactions during the day. Consequently, conversations with clients can feel a little awkward or forced at times. There’s no secret. You need to prepare for all questions so that you can shine with expertise and professionalism.

Ultimately, you’re an independent, so your clients need to ask you questions they wouldn’t ask a company. Be honest and open about your career. If you’re new to the freelancing world, let them know where you come from. A carefully crafted portfolio is crucial during these interviews, but it doesn’t replace your personality.

Keep your skills up-to-date

You can’t expect clients to trust you with their projects if they fear your skills aren’t suited for the current market. As an independent professional, you can’t afford not to keep up with the latest business trends.

You should make sure to take business classes on everyday business requirements as well, from business writing to entrepreneurship. There’s nothing worse than an expert who lacks business know-how. You can boost your professional profile with free classes as well as paid for online studies.

Make time for a real break

Last, but not least, when you work from home, you tend to skip breaks. As a result, clients can get in the habit of contacting you at any time, which can affect your professional interactions. You need to establish healthy breaks throughout the day, for yourself and to encourage clients to think of your services as a business. Take the time to eat at lunchtime or to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. Applying an office break policy to your home business is a game-changer.

Professionalism is the complex mixture of how you act, how you think and how you feel. For home-based workers, it’s about creating an environment that is suitable for the business mindset, from what you wear to the equipment you purchase.

More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated each day, and in the era of ever-evolving technology, the opportunities for innovation are virtually never-ending. Both employers and employees are quickly learning to reap the benefits of technology, and telecommuting is just one example of the way technology has revolutionized the nature of work.

Workforce writer Ariel Parrella-Aureli agrees, and she feels as though millennials are the catalyst driving further technological developments and modernized work spaces.

“Gen Y pushes the need to create a balance between traditional corporate environments and make room for remote access employees that act as a second home for creativity, productivity and engagement through technology and collaboration,” she writes.

Even though telecommuting situations aren’t viable for all businesses, nearly six out of ten employers identify cost savings as a significant benefit to telecommuting. But telecommuting can save employees money as well.

Here are just a few ways employees can save money by telecommuting.

Less Work-Related Traveling

One clear financial advantage of having the ability to work from home is the reduction in gas and car maintenance costs that come with traveling to the office less often. Even if you take public transportation, you’re saving on traveling costs.

Salary.com contributing writer and CEO of FlexJobs Sara Sutton Fell says, “If you work from home full-time, you immediately eliminate any costs associated with your commute, whether they be from driving to work or taking public transportation. Even if you’re walking or biking to work, you’ll wind up with lower bike maintenance costs and fewer pairs of sneakers to buy.”

Convenience Of Technology

Even though technology requires an initial investment, it can come with significant cost savings. If you do have to purchase work-related equipment yourself, you can receive some serious deductions when tax season rolls around. But normally, employers foot the bill for telecommuting technology. This includes security-based technology, which is especially essential for telecommuting positions.

That’s one reason the managed security services market, for example, is expected to almost double by 2020, from $17.02 billion to $33.68 billion. This is directly in line with the increase in telecommuting opportunities, which The NWI Times reports grew by 115% over the past ten years.

“Technologies such as the cloud, teleconferencing and virtual meeting software make it easier than ever for many white-collar jobs to be performed from anywhere,” writes Craig Guillot.

Sometimes, employees are able to keep software and other technologies paid for by employers even after they’ve left the job. These cost savings are invaluable to driven workers looking to expand their skills and areas of expertise.

Fewer Professional Wardrobe and Laundering Expenses

One often overlooked aspect of working remotely is that there’s no need to adhere to a company dress code. You don’t need to don a suit every day, cover up any tattoos, or remove any piercing jewelry. Likewise, there’s no need to purchase expensive designer clothes to impress superficial bosses. While it may seem like a small thing, the Department of Labor has found that working Americans spend about $1,881 on clothing and apparel each year. If even a quarter of that money is spent on professional clothing and/or dry cleaning services, you’re already saving hundreds of dollars a year.

Ultimately, these are just a few of the many financial advantages that come with telecommuting. Brie Reynolds, FlexJobs senior career specialist, feels as though remote opportunities will only continue to expand.

“The rise of the knowledge economy means that more people’s jobs are compatible with remote work than ever before,” Brie says.