Twenty years ago, working from home usually referred to moms, writers, or Steve Jobs. Today though, wireless Internet and inexpensive software means most industries can employee remote workers.

It’s true that physical office space isn’t going away anytime soon, but the surge in telecommuters is proof that not everyone needs to be in the main building to be a productive member of the team. In fact, research shows employees who work from a home office often work longer hours, demonstrate better work/life balance, and face fewer distractions than those onsite.

Read on for five ways technology has changed the culture of work as we know it and learn how you can leverage any available options to make the case on your own behalf for working from home.

Virtual meetings

Programs like Skype, GoToMeeting, and Google hangout mean that employers can keep tabs on their employees and no one has to be left out of important office gatherings. All you need is a home computer and a high speed Internet connection to log in and virtually “meet” with the whole group.

Professional software for personal use

It used to be that the cutting-edge programs were only available through your office. Copying, faxing, and printing documents were benefits of the workplace. Today though, email has replaced formal memos and instant messaging allows for immediate internal communication. Programs that were once cutting edge in the professional world are now available for home use. Smartphones and mobile devices mean anyone anywhere can check email and get work done – even in the unlikeliest of places.

Online calendars

Digital schedules mean that you can book appointments, conference calls, and meetings with others and plan which days to go into the office based on official get-togethers. It’s easy to check your work calendar from home. No meetings scheduled for the next day? Work in your PJs and save business attire for the rare occasion when you have to step foot in the office.

Increase in remote workforces

As technology improves, working from home or telecommuting has become a popular alternative for those looking to avoid a long commute. In some cases, companies are able to truly hire the best employees because they are not confined to finding someone in the immediate geographical region. Managers can work with employees in China, India, or Milwaukee and communicate with them as easily as those employees based in company headquarters.

Decreased stigma

The boom in technology and the simultaneous productivity and satisfaction that comes from working at home has removed much of the stigma associated with it. No longer is someone considered anti-social or “sketchy” if they choose to, say, trade stocks from the comfort of their couch. Working from home has gained social acceptance as technology makes it increasingly convenient to function this way.

Technology has forever altered the way we do business. If you feel like the culture of your workplace is conducive to working from home (full-time or part-time) speak with your supervisor and make your case. You might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

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