Kelly Ann Collins works in a cave. At least that's what she calls her home office, where she does the majority of her work.
Collins, a self-employed marketing and public relations strategist in her 30s, values the quiet home work zone that she yearned for when she worked in a traditional office setting.
"For me, it was really challenging working in an office, because you have people walking, stopping by, knocking on your door and bringing you birthday cake," she said. "There's always something going on."
Given her experience, it's perhaps not surprising that Collins disagreed with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to implement a company policy saying employees can no longer work from home.
A memo circulated by Jackie Reses, Yahoo's executive vice president of people and development, said "communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side" and "speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."
"I do not know what she is talking about, because I don't think speed and quality of work are affected by working from home," Collins said of Mayer's policy change. "Has she not been to a water cooler? You can hardly get away from a water cooler at work. I am 100% about working from home and staying away from distractions."
When she worked in an office, Collins found, she was most productive from 5 until 10 p.m., when her co-workers had left for the day. She thinks the workplace has become too social and distracting.
Always be accessible
But just because Collins works from home each day doesn't mean she lacks social skills. She spends her mornings writing speeches, drafting press releases, updating social media and developing marketing plans. In the afternoons, she goes out and meets with clients face-to-face.
"I think one good idea is to go in for meetings, go in for team bonding events, but just work from home," she said. "It's easy."
And whether she's out at a coffee shop or at home in her "cave," Collins is always accessible via Google chat.
"During work hours, make sure you are logged onto your favorite chat tools," she writes in an iReport. "For example, if you are on a tight deadline and someone is asking you a not-so-important question, then you may choose to either ignore your chat window or inform your coworker that you will be available in a few minutes."
Through social networks and other chat tools, people can screen a conversation when deciding whether it's worth their time, she explains. But Collins says no matter what, telecommuters should always stay accessible.
"Remember: If your clients forget you're there, then they might forget to write your checks, too," she writes.
Establish a routine
Dylan Mason, 40, works from the West Coast for an East Coast company as a software developer.
Mason enjoys the freedom that comes with working from home. He can research new ideas and test them out at home without interruptions.
"I think the key to staying fresh in your job is to have the freedom to explore new ideas," he said. "A lot of workplaces allow for this to certain degrees, but telecommuting can allow for greater and longer engagement when coming up with new ideas."
Like many places, Mason and his colleagues use e-mail, teleconferences and instant messaging to stay connected. These modes of communication help co-workers keep in touch but can also be distracting. Mason says to watch out for the "distraction creep."
"Distractions of any sort can pull you out of a 'flow' mode, and if you are prone to distraction, then working from home can be very challenging," Mason said.
In order to prevent interruptions, Mason says, people must establish a regimented routine that is work-conducive by separating the personal office from the rest of the home and avoiding noisy coffee shops.
Take a personality test
Telecommuting is not for everyone; it's better suited for introverts, Mason says.
"If you are forced into telecommuting and are an extrovert, then seriously consider a new job," he said.
Mason suggests a person take a personality test to determine whether they're an introvert or an extrovert before making the decision to work from home.