NEW YORK—5.2 million. That’s the current number of telecommuters in America, according to the National Resources Defense Council. And that number is only growing. By 2016, the number of people working from home is expected to rise by 69 percent.

More employers—even those who resisted the trend until recently—are setting up offices in employees’ homes and realizing the cost savings of allowing them to telecommute from a virtual office, at least part time. Indeed, virtual offices are a concept whose time has come.

If you are looking for time management and productivity tips for your virtual office, turn to Laura Stack. Stack says that whenever an individual makes the change to working from home, the key to success is creating a productive home office environment.

“The first mistake new telecommuters make is setting up shop in one of their home’s cozy, comfortable spots, tossing aside everything learned about ergonomics in the office. After a week of unnatural posturing at the breakfast nook, the back starts to ache, hands and feet go numb, and productivity plummets,” Stack says.

“Bite the bullet and buy good, solid office furniture of the appropriate types. Use a wrist pad to keep your typing and mousing hands straight, so you don't fall prey to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; make sure you have sufficient lighting coming from above; and supply all cordage with surge protectors just in case.”

Stack says that some organizations have written policies requiring specific types of ergonomic furniture in the virtual office, as well as specifics on where and how it should be set up. Stack recommends setting up in a clean, spacious, well-defined and distraction-free workspace that offers good ventilation for your virtual office space.

“If space is a problem, at least ensure you have a door you can close to place a boundary between work life and home life,” she says. “Don't set up in the kitchen, your living room, or the master bedroom, though an unused spare bedroom or dining room can work well.”

Stack also recommends having plenty of room for all furniture, electronics, files, and supplies, so there is no need to run back and forth to find work-related items in your virtual office space.

“You want to make your home office as comfortable and convenient as possible, so you can more easily maximize your personal productivity,” Stack says. “Just be sure to define your work space and don’t give in to the temptation to carry your laptop from room to room. Going to an established home office should be a reminder that you’re there to work, just as the drive to your old office used to be.”