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Ergonomics of a home office: ensuring productivity in remote workers

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Remote working is something that has changed the workplace environment. However, alongside its many positives, the concern is how to promote productivity in remote workers who are away from a typical office environment on a day-to-day basis. Due to this, some large firms have been moving their teams back into an office environment. There are many drivers behind this, so the stats are slightly misleading. However, given remote working is here to stay, the key challenge of productivity must be tackled.  

Nicholas G. Muscat from Aussie Money Man states that "remote working is becoming increasingly common with the rise of the laptop lifestyle. Because of this we need to adapt to find new ways to assure productivity."

Additioanlly, as a 2017 poll shows, part-time remote workers have risen from 39 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2016. No doubt, some of your teams work remotely some or all of the time. The good news is that technology and culture have evolved to breakdown the barriers to really effective remote working.

Finding the right remote workers can be challenging, and when you do, keeping them motivated and excited can be hard if you don't have strong communication channels. I recommend interviewing them well, and starting with a test project before hiring them for ongoing work. 

When you do find someone great, it is a real win-win. Today, more and more people want the freedom of working from where they want when they want, and for your business it saves the expense of providing office space and equipment.

Dr. Kelly Wade thinks "all businesses can benefit from hiring remote workers. Many businesses worry that it becomes too hard to keep up communications but in my experience remote workers tend to get more work done sooner. There are many reasons for this but the most prominent are that remote workers can often work around commitments that would normally take them away from their desk and there’s much less pointless chatter and fewer unnecessary meetings when working with remote staff."

Communication culture

Communication is key. Clear, effective communication is more vital to remote workers than it is to those in the same workplace. Nuances that are picked up in a face to face conversation can be lost over email, chat or phone.  

Instructions must be clear, and tasks should be clarified and checked by both the employee and the delegator. It is not only important to establish good communication early on, but throughout the various stages of all tasks.

"We have ensured that the team are set up with the right tools and still feel connected with the other team members. We use Slack, Zoom Conferencing and email to stay in touch. Every quarter, we have State based team catch ups and every 6 months we fly everyone to Brisbane to bond." - Gemma Lloyd, CEO, Work180

Process can aid communication. Using workflows, project management tools and automation can deliver huge benefits in consistency and outcomes.These benefits can only be realized, however, if they are backed up by an open culture where questioning inputs and inconsistencies is welcomed.

Technology stack

Continuing with the theme of communication, it is essential to provide the same technology ecosystem to home works as to office bound teams. This means when employees do travel between offices or the home and office, they can focus on their job, and not on working out how to connect!

"A core element of the modern work environment is solid internet connection." - Aodhan MacCathmhaoil,

Fiber and Copper Ethernet or T1 will have SLAs that enable better uptime and fixes if sites do go down. Over the last few years, companies have been rolling out SD-WAN with the infrastructure cost savings being pushed into remote workers. The virtual overlay that allows the company network to be managed using software alone.This means that security and control is as effective as it would be if the employee was onsite.  

Additionally, a VOIP telephone service now doesn’t differentiate between onsite and remote users. Employees can log into physical handsets or desktop clients and have thefull suite of functions and correct Hunt Groups.

The move to cloud computing is another crucial part to managing a remote workforce. Most critical applications are now available as SaaS and having a document management system (DMS) provides a mutual place to store work and collaborate. Some great examples of this include Google Drive and MicrosoftOneDrive. These are fantastic as they allow colleagues to save and edit in real time.

Cloud services also provide a great back up platform,ensuring all important documents are stored securely.


In addition to general communication, keeping remote workers social is crucial. Regular meet ups, group calls and video conferences ensure the team is on the same page and that they are working together efficiently. This boosts moral, and allows all workers to participate at all times, which in turn improves their productivity. Chat platforms, such as WhatsApp or Slack are particularly useful for communicating quickly, and they can also be linked to project management systems mentioned below.


Trello or Teamwork are great systems that allow employees and employers to communicate and manage their time, workload, and targets. This is essential, as well managed work from all parties is very important to successful remote working. Time management is key and can be made easier by using the apps mentioned above. However, it is also important for employers to manage their own expectations and progress.

Setting targets based on outcomes, rather than inputs is vital for remote management of teams. Regular updates using methodologies such as AGILE have also shown to be effective. Sherry Richert Belul, a high performance coach from Simply Celebrate states that "managing remote workers takes planning. It is a huge help to get a remote force to plan their working week by clarifying the biggest goals and most important projects." Sherry adds that "many people are highly organized, but they skip the essential step of knowing what is essential versus non-essential".

Remote working is on the increase and due to developments in technology it’s only going to become more popular and more capable. When bringing remote working into the office, it is important to make sure you’re prepared to manage the workforce. 

Additional tips and advice...

There are pros and cons to do so and it's not easy to manage. But we do and we've grown the business and won many national and international awards for it.

Pros - I get access to amazing talent at an affordable price with minimal
overheads. We deliver quality results with impact.

Without the distractions and constant interruptions I was able to power through my work, and was definitely more productive in a quiet environment, and completed the work faster.

As an employee who is allowed to work remotely, I'd love to share my thoughts on remote working.

First of all, remote working is great for anyone who dreams of working in a
certain company but can't travel to the country this company is located in.
Also, people who want to travel and keep working can greatly benefit from
remote working.

Over the years I have picked up and developed little tricks to maximize my time each day. I very rarely have ever worked after dark and always get everything done that I need to, including exercise and personal time. - Janice Formichella,

Working from home has helped me to have a successful career whilst managing a chronic illness. Working from home means that I don't have to commute so can conserve energy, and can fuel myself with the food I need at the times I need it. This gives me time and space to then focus on the work in hand, as my recovery is more easily looked after.

The hype around remote work is real. For employers it enables you to access a broader and more competitive talent market. While there are challenges managing remote employees, the benefits more than outweigh the cons once you get a handle on the right management strategies and are able to build a strong culture.

Remote working isn't for everyone. It takes a great deal of motivation and focus
to do so, I am fortunate that my last full-time role required me to travel
frequently, so I was used to getting tasks done on my own schedule. But if
there is any doubt in whether an employee has this attribute, make sure you set
very clear boundaries and expectations and trial the work style before
committing to it being a long-term solution.

We have 6 remote workers dotted around the world, while in the main it's a good thing for us one of the cons is cybersecurity.

Cybercrime is a huge problem globally, and if you have a remote team, it's
tough to find a balance between productivity and security.

We employ staff that work with us remotely. So we are both the employer, and in a sense the employee of a remote workspace. In my opinion, it definitely helps productivity as long
as you're in an environment that allows for it and you've got a mindset of success.

For the remote team, communication is critical but there can be a sense of overwhelm and excess communication can backfire, leading to confusion and frustration for the team.

From my perspective, working remotely is almost all positive. I get to live where I want, work at
the times and places that suit me (I spend a lot of time in cafes) and I really enjoy that flexibility.

We love the flexibility and from a business owners point of view I find productivity is
higher. They work when and where they want as long as they meet their

If you would like to know more about how we have helped other businesses support their remote teams, please contact us.

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