It seems as though just about everyone wants to work from home these days.

The latest ONS figures show there are currently over 1.5 million regular remote workers in the UK, while a recent TotalJobs survey found that 65% of all employees are provided with the option to work from home. Since only 12% of workers feel happier in an office environment, it’s fair to say we’re in the midst of a remote working revolution.

Remote working at home

For small businesses, this change in workplace trends is presenting some truly fantastic opportunities. Not only does flexible working increase employee happiness and retention, it also reduces the time spent commuting and saves money on expensive office space. More importantly, 77% of workers say that remote working actually boosts their productivity and engagement.

However, flexible working certainly isn’t without its flaws, and small businesses can often find real difficulty in keeping remote workers engaged and connected. In fact, remote employees can only achieve such high levels of productivity by following these simple tips:

Find the Most Reliable Internet Connection

Without a fast home broadband connection, remote working just isn’t possible. The internet plays such an integral role in our daily working lives, slow speeds and poor connectivity are always guaranteed to hamper productivity, while also leaving remote workers feeling completely disconnected.

Modern businesses are now relying on virtual workspaces and video conferencing solutions to keep their remote workers better connected. However, employees will experience real difficulty in using these platforms without a fast broadband connection, since video calls will require much larger amounts of bandwidth.

Of course, it all depends on which collaboration tools your business is utilising. If employees are simply required to communicate via email, then a basic ADSL broadband package will work just fine; if they need to participate in video conferences or download large files, then they’ll need a super-fast fibre optic connection to really operate productively.

Manage your time, schedule your day

Set Clear Goals

Remote workers should be treated just like every other employee: which means they need to be set clear goals and targets. When remote employees lack an overall sense of direction, then either their productivity levels will drop, or they’ll be unable to effectively prioritise tasks. Somewhat inevitably, this will lead to unhappy workers and poor results.

By setting clear goals and ensuring workers completely understand their priorities, however, remote employees can develop a firmer grasp on their workload and plan out a more efficient schedule. This level of organisation will ultimately allow them to get more done and really make the most of their working hours, while also keeping them completely focused on what you expect of them.

After all, small businesses need to place a stronger focus on setting project goals—and spend less time worrying about how remote workers are actually achieving them.

Communicate Regularly

The key to productively working from home lies in effective communication, since this is the only way you can keep employees engaged with your business and the project in-hand. Whether they work from home full-time or just once a week, modern technology is essential towards keeping remote workers better connected—which is why those fast internet speeds are so important.

Instead of relying on confusing (and often unnecessarily lengthy) email chains, small businesses can utilise instant messaging, video chat and cloud-based workspaces to stay connected with remote employees 24 hours a day. Although it’s obviously important to establish boundaries, this sense of flexibility means it’s now easier than ever for remote workers to participate in team meetings and remain up to date on project progression.

Regular communication ensures remote teams are always fully on the same page, pushing projects in the right direction and working together productively. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to establish exactly how you want to communicate with remote workers, and then to ensure they have access to the collaborative tools they need.

Home-like office design

Establish Work-Life Boundaries

For many remote workers, separating the home from the office can prove one of the biggest challenges. After all, those that work from home on a full-time basis are technically never out of the office, meaning it’s incredibly difficult to switch off outside of office hours.

By creating a designated office space and completely segregating it from the rest of their home, remote workers will find it much easier to separate their personal and working lives; while also providing themselves with an appropriate working environment. When their office is devoid of any distractions and includes the right equipment, employees can obviously stay much more focused on their work.

Perhaps more importantly, small businesses need to establish boundaries with remote employees when creating a communication strategy. Although instant messaging and mobile technology means workers are connected 24 hours a day, you need to agree on which times they’re actually contactable and allow them to enjoy their free time.

When remote workers have established a firmer work schedule and segregated their office space, they’re much likelier to operate productively during their working hours, instead of feeling run-down by being constantly on-the-clock.