Whether you have a home office or you take your work home with you, you may not always find your desk, kitchen table, or living room couch to be an optimal working environment. From distractions to finicky Internet connections, disruptions at home may drive you to find solace in a different working area. Here are a few reasons why I believe working away from home can be the best situation. Avoid Distractions at Home When I have a sink full of dishes and stacks of laundry pouring out of the dryer, these chores often distract me from work. When my phone is ringing in my ear or family members want to ask me what we’re eating for dinner tomorrow, I have a hard time focusing. These are common distractions for people who work at home, so if you do, you may consider picking up your computer and heading out to your nearest coffee shop or public library—anywhere with public Wi-Fi. Places with public Wi-Fi often do have their own distractions, but they may be easier to deal with than those at home. For example, at coffee shops, you may have the din of conversation from other patrons and the orders called by baristas behind the counter. But personally, the din becomes white noise that is either soothing, or I can mentally block it out entirely. Also, using headphones and having music on—without distracting lyrics, in my case—can block out background noise as well. If you need complete silence to focus, the quiet environment of a public library might suit you better. More Reliable Internet Connections Whether or not you face distractions, another reason to consider heading out to a place with public Wi-Fi is the Internet speeds are often faster and connections more reliable. Working from home full time and depending on the Internet entirely for my job, I detest nothing more than my Internet going out in the middle of a heap of deadlines. Sometimes I have to unplug and reconnect the modem and router, hoping the connection will fix itself, but if it looks like I need to call a repairman, I pack up my laptop and head straight out the door. Thus far, the Internet connection at my neighborhood coffee shop hasn’t been down once when I needed it—knock on wood. Public libraries and businesses, particularly corporate entities like Starbucks, often spend more money on their Internet connections to provide the service as a benefit for their customers, hence the increased dependability. Faster Internet Speeds While you often have to share Internet connections in public venues, many invest in fast enough speeds to accommodate more customers using the Internet for more reasons, like watching videos and streaming music. And often, these speeds exceed those many people have in their own homes. Last year, for example, Starbucks partnered with Google and Level 3 Communications to provide Wi-Fi Internet speeds that were up to 10 times faster and began refitting the more than 7,000 Starbucks stores over the following 18 months. Public libraries, which are often one of the only providers of free Wi-Fi Internet in a community, also face the issue of having an influx of people sharing one Internet connection. While some companies are able to fund a faster Internet connection, public libraries are still in desperate need of this type of funding. According to the 2011-2012 IMLS National Public Library Survey, 6.9 percent of public libraries still have connectivity speeds lower than 1.5 Mbps, and 41.1 percent of public libraries have insufficient connection speeds that can’t meet the needs of their patrons. This is partially because of the increase in bandwidth needed for some Internet activities, like streaming videos or using social media, that are more common now than in the past.

6.9 percent of public libraries still have connectivity speeds lower than 1.5 Mbps.

Because I generally only need the Internet for basic research, writing emails, and other non-intensive tasks, a public library’s Internet connection suits my needs. But if you want to stream videos and do other more intensive Internet tasks, double-check the connection at your local public library, and explore other options if that connection isn’t enough. While I still work from my home office, I find comfort in knowing that I can leave my desk and embrace the outside world of Wi-Fi whenever I need or want to. And as more businesses and even the U.S. government move toward expanding Wi-Fi Internet connections, these conditions will only improve with time. [zipfinder]
Find Ryann on Google+ Photo: Robert Claypool/Flickr Many people would love the flexibility that comes with escaping the corporate grind, like scheduling their own day and not worrying about organizing child care. Working from home seems like an ideal setup and some companies have figured out how to make it benefit their bottom line as well as their employees. Here are five companies succeeding at offering work from home opportunities. 1. LiveOps Industry: Call Center/SaaS Over 20,000 people work for LiveOps as call center agents, taking calls on behalf of large corporations as well as calls from customers interested in buying something they saw advertised on television. People who work for LiveOps are independent contractors based in the USA, enjoying great perks, like free training, flexible hours and great rewards. There are various positions available with LiveOps, including advanced sales agents, outbound agents, bilingual agents (English/French or English/Spanish), roadside assistance agents, and licensed insurance agents. You have to be at least 18-years-old to work with the company and the typical sales and inbound agents can earn from $5.00 to $10.00 per half-hour, depending on call volume and bonuses. While LiveOps is a great company to work for if you’re sales orientated, motivated and in search of a flexible position, the room for growth within the company is limited. 2. Xerox Industry: Document and IT Services   Xerox is a leading document technology and IT services company, founded in 1906 and currently employs over 140,000 people in 160 locations worldwide. Xerox manufactures photocopiers, projectors, scanners, printers and related supplies. The company also offers workflow solutions and consulting services. Xerox’s Virtual Workforce Program currently employs around 5,000 contractors who perform duties such as customer care, tech support, image tagging, programming and business support. The company’s wages are job dependent and generally lower than the market average, but, because of the flexibility they offer, it makes them an appealing alternative to working in a corporate environment. Xerox also offers a Heroes@Home work program, geared toward army veterans and their spouses. Xerox values those who have served in the military and offers them an opportunity to shift careers. Whilst Xerox does have jobs that are work-from-home, they are not plentiful and often depend on the job and the location. If you do get in on this opportunity, you’ll be happy to know there are opportunities to progress your career, advance, or transfer to a branch office. 3. Humana Industry: Insurance, Health Care Humana is a Fortune 500 company serving healthcare consumers in the United States and Puerto Rico. The company offers a wide range of health and insurance products and has won workplace awards, including Best Employer for Healthy Lifestyles from the National Business Group, making it an appealing choice for job seekers. Currently, about ten percent the managed healthcare company’s approximately 28,000 employees work from home. The types of work-at-home positions offered are for registered nurses, medical coders, chart auditors, insurance representatives, accountants, writers, personnel recruiters, physicians, sales professionals and web specialists. Humana is a great company to work for, according to current and former employees who have reviewed the company on GlassDoor. It scores well in all categories, especially work/life balance, and most reviewers say they would recommend it to a friend. 4. About Industry: Information Technology About is owned by IAC and is an online information repository which covers 78,000 topics created by over 1,000 writers, who are described as the heart and soul of the company. It was founded in 1996 and has over 90 million unique visits monthly. Freelance writers are contracted to share their knowledge in various fields, writing articles on a flexible schedule from wherever they choose. Wage is dependent, but typically grows with page views and experience. 5. Accounting Department Industry: Accounting Services Accounting Department offers bookkeeping services to small to mid-sized and fast growing American businesses. They hire qualified bookkeepers and accountants as well as assistants and salespeople. In this technological era, outsourcing is a popular course of action for businesses, and this created the opportunity for qualified individuals to work at home. If you are applying with Accounting Department, be ready for a rigorous testing and interview process, as they hire only the best accounting candidates. Employees are assigned to companies in their time zone and are required to keep the same hours each week. Potential for growth within this company is high due its close-knit team and huge potential for increased business. Of course, these are only five of the companies currently offering opportunities for employees to work from home. Do you currently work for a company that allows you to telecommute? What are the best opportunities that come with this perk?
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