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More and more of us are working remotely, whether it be full time, part time, or a hybrid of home and office. Not only can working remotely bring huge benefits and flexibility, but it’s also often seen as a real perk in attracting the best talent.

However, staff working from home brings its own challenges for employers who need to make sure their team remains productive. In this article we look at ways good employers can support their remote workforce to maximise productivity and success for everyone.

Why is employee productivity so important?

Maintaining staff productivity is crucial in business as it directly impacts overall efficiency, operational success, and ultimately, how much cash it has coming in. Productive employees tend to meet deadlines and be happier in their jobs, leading to increased output and profitability.

How do I help employees feel motivated?

The standard employee-response to this is ‘pay us what we deserve’, although this isn’t the only motivation you can offer. An engaged workforce tends to stick around for longer, helping you work on stable business growth and innovation. So how do you go about it?

Keep communication channels open

Effective communication is at the heart of any successful business, but with remote working it’s even more important. Platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom are a great way of bridging the gap, providing real-time communication, video conferencing and document sharing.

Virtual meetings, team updates and one-on-ones can help everyone stay up-to-date and feel heard.

Make sure goals and expectations are clear

Be transparent about working hours, project deadlines and performance expectations by providing detailed project briefs and outlining key deliverables. It’s also worth setting realistic timelines that help employees to prioritise tasks effectively.

Consider what perks you might offer staff

Showing that you recognise and appreciate employees’ efforts goes a long way towards helping people feel valued, and therefore motivated. There are simply stacks of perks and rewards you can offer staff – just be aware of the tax rules around staff perks before you send that all-staff email round.

Learn more about tax for benefits-in-kind and staff perks in our blog.

Invest in technology and infrastructure

Employers should provide employees with the necessary tools and software to perform their tasks effectively – even if they work from home.

This includes high-speed internet access, secure virtual private networks (VPNs), and up-to-date software applications. Investing in technology means there are likely to be fewer barriers to productivity, creating an environment that’s more remote-worker friendly.

Prioritise employee wellbeing

Remote work can blur the lines between personal and professional life, potentially leading to burnout. Employers can prioritise the wellbeing of staff working from home by focusing on both physical and mental health of employees.

Good communication is key, but you may also need to offer certain flexibilities like compressed or varied working hours to accommodate individual needs.

This is all about encouraging a healthy work-life balance, so you could also organise things like social events or team-building days. You might even be able to claim tax relief on a staff party!

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Build a culture of trust

Trust is the foundation of successful remote working relationships. But it must be earned, and that’s a two-way street.

Giving staff the autonomy to choose their own way of working helps to build trust, and lets employees take ownership of their work. Focus on the outcomes!

Encourage skills development and training

The business world is constantly changing which is why it’s well worth investing in professional development opportunities for your team. This could include online training programs, courses, webinars, and workshops that enhance both technical and soft skills.

Helping employees develop their skills not only benefits individual employees but also strengthens the overall capabilities of the team. Again, this can really boost productivity and make your business more adaptable.

Offer lots of virtual collaboration

Bear in mind that remote working can feel lonely and it’s easy to become cut off from your colleagues. This makes effective collaboration all the more important, not just in terms of communication but in how tasks are managed.

Project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Jira (for example) enable teams to coordinate tasks, track progress and share information easily.

Establish regular check-ins and performance reviews

Regular check-ins and performance reviews are the best way to maintain accountability and track progress. As an employer you might find it useful to schedule virtual meetings and discuss individual and team performance, offer constructive feedback, and address any challenges or concerns.

This ongoing dialogue helps align individual goals with business objectives, giving a sense of purpose and direction to employees working from home.

Recognise and reward achievements

Remote employees may miss out on the traditional in-person recognition that often happens more naturally in office settings. Make sure you actively acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of your remote teams, just as if they were physically present. After all, everyone wants to feel appreciated!

Can I pay an employee’s expenses if they work from home?

Working from home means employees are using their own resources to carry out work, rather than yours as their employer, so you may be able to make payments towards an employee’s costs without incurring additional tax or employer’s National Insurance.

You can either reimburse your employees’ working from home expenses:

  • At a flat rate of £6 a week
  • Based on the exact amount of the costs incurred (which you’ll need evidence of!)
Costs incurred whether or not your employee works from home are not included.

For example, mortgage payment, water rates, or council tax would all be payable whether your employee works from home or not, so they can’t include these in any claims.

There are strict eligibility criteria around the circumstances for claiming, so employees won’t meet the criteria if their contracts allows them to work from home on a regular basis. They might eligible if:

  • The nature of their job means they need to live far away from your office
  • You don’t have an office

Double check with your accountant or HMRC if you’re unsure!

Learn more about our online accounting services for businesses. Call 020 3355 4047 to chat to the team, and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Suzanne Goodier-Dodson

I'm a Senior Payroll Clerk with a degree in Mathematics, responsible for overseeing every aspect of payroll for our clients. In my spare time, I love to travel and going to gigs. Read my Staff Spotlight.

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