Thanks to faster broadband, better communication technologies, and the UK Government’s flexible working initiative, more people are deciding to work from home than ever before. Creating a healthy work-life balance boosts productivity and increases employee happiness, so it is unsurprising that flexible working schemes are growing in popularity.

For small to mid-size organisations, allowing employees to work from home can prove highly beneficial. It helps save valuable money, which can be invested into strategic areas of the business instead, and also saves workers from having to commute long hours every day. A recent Ofcom report found that SMEs now account for 60% of private sector employment, and 47% of business revenue. Keeping SME employees healthy and productive through flexible working has now become incredibly important for the economy.

When working from home, it is essential to create an environment which ensures productivity and connectivity, similar or better to which, would be found in an office setting. Below we take a look at the most important factors which you should consider when setting up your home office space to ensure a productive home working environment.

Working space

The condition of your working area is naturally going to affect the quality of your work so it’s important to ensure you have plenty of space and natural light, if possible. Working in a cramped area with uncomfortable seating will hinder productivity. Make sure your table, desk and especially chair, are comfy and fit your needs. At work, employers tend to provide furniture, which is ergonomically designed to improve your health and comfort - make sure you do the same. More recently, standing desks and split keyboards offer additional health benefits and are relatively cost effective.

Working at home offers a lot more freedom than working in an office. Your space belongs to you, and you have total control over what you keep in your immediate area. An ordered stationery cupboard and filing drawer will ensure you don’t have to hunt around the house for that illusive paper clip or document, while a personal printer will make life a lot easier. Keep some personal items around your working space too; you don’t want to feel like you’ve taken your work office home with you. It’s important to make sure your office area has everything you need, but isn’t cluttered – especially if you take regular video calls. It’s best to keep the camera clear of any mess or clutter to ensure a certain level of professionalism when working from home.

Home working habits

It’s easy when working from home to sit for hours on end staring at your computer screen. You aren’t distracted by colleagues or moving around the office into various meetings. It’s therefore really important to take regular breaks.

Likewise, if you know there are going to be other people around, schedule specific times for your breaks so you don’t spend too much of your day distracted. Set rules, and make sure you aren’t going to be interrupted, especially if you’re on a deadline or expecting an important call. If you’re waiting for a delivery make sure you are prepared in advance, there’s nothing worse than being on a call and having a knock at the door.

Remember however, that you wouldn’t spend all day at work alone in one room, if you have the ability to talk to family or go for a walk, do so, just make sure it’s during a scheduled break.

Technology

Having the right technology in place is key to successful home working. In a world which requires 24/7 connectivity, you must ensure that you have the capability to stay connected regardless of location. Having access to the internet is the start. Make sure you have fast and reliable broadband to avoid disconnects and lag.

Implementing a relevant conferencing solution is also crucial so you can stay connected– whether it’s video or phone, having access to colleagues and customers at the click of a button is essential. You will need to have regular ‘face to face’ meetings, and share and edit documents via the cloud. Make sure you download any relevant apps which allow you to do this quickly and easily.

Technology which allows for quick and effective connectivity between the home and the office is easily accessible, and will ensure that working at home is trouble free.

By following these easy steps, working from home can prove to be highly productive for both employee and employer. Flexibility is a hot topic right now, with more and more of us wanting to work on our terms. As long as you have a suitable working environment and the right technology, homeworking will be much more of a help to businesses than a hindrance.

By James Campanini, VP & GM EMEA, Blue Jeans