Remote workers work longer

Everything about working from home, leading at a distance and building a successful work culture

January 6, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has paved the way for many businesses to move to the home office and home office software, with many workers working from home for the first time and employers leading virtual teams for the first time. According to 2019 statistics, only 5% of the EU workforce aged 15-64 work from home. During the pandemic, almost 4 in 10 people in the EU started working from home. For comparison: In the US, 42% of the workforce worked full-time in the home office over the same period. In the last US census in 2017, it was 5.2%.

It can be assumed that the upward trend in home office practices will continue after the crisis. Why?

    • Since 2010, the number of people who work at home at least one day a week has increased by a staggering 400%.


    • 42% of teleworkers say they intend to work from home more often in the next 5 years.

    • 40% of home office workers intend to work from home as much as they do now.

Home office: development and trends

It seems likely that home office opportunities will continue to grow and become an attractive employee benefit. It is important to emphasize that working from home presents a number of specific challenges and benefits for both employers and employees.

It becomes particularly problematic if the employer does not set clear guidelines or the employee has not set up a healthy home office from the start.

This is exactly where we come in: In this guide, we provide advice on effective leadership at a distance as well as tips on how you can improve the productivity and engagement of remote workers in the home office. We also highlight the best practices for promoting a positive work culture in the home office that enable a healthy, happy work-life balance for everyone.

Our guidelines for working in the home office cover the following points:

Home office definition
The difference between home office and freelancing
The rise of the home office
The redesign of the office after COVID-19
Advantages of the home office
Advantages of the home office for employers
Remote benefits of working from home for employees
Challenges of the home office for employers
Home office challenges for employees
How to build a home office culture
Home office solutions: Tips for the successful management of virtual teams
How to set up a remote office
How to work productively in the home office
Home office collaboration software
What is intranet?
The collaboration functions of Happeo for virtual teams

Home office definition

What is home office? A home office is understood to mean - in contrast to teleworking - the occasional work at a different workplace than the employer's building. Although remote workers can work wherever they want, almost 80% choose their home as their main place of work.

In some companies, the entire workforce works from home, while in other companies, a teleworking or flexible work policy is in place, which means that employees work from home on a part-time basis. This can be once or a few times a week or a certain number of days per month.

The difference between home office and freelancing

What does home office mean? In this context, we would like to point out a few fundamental differences between home office and freelancing. Both home office workers and freelancers have the option to work from home and companies can work with both. Then what are the differences?

Home office worker

  • They are on the company's payroll, either on a full-time or part-time basis.

  • As a rule, they are entitled to social benefits such as vacation and sick leave and pay insurance contributions.

  • It can be contractually stipulated that they are not allowed to work for other companies at the same time.

Freelancers

  • You're not on the company's payroll.

  • They are usually hired on a project basis (duration varies depending on the agreement between the company and the freelancer) and offer their services on websites such as Upwork, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash, Postmates and TaskRabbit.

  • They are not paid for company benefits such as vacation days and sick leave.

  • Usually they work for several companies at the same time.

 

The rise of the home office

Why has the interest in home office activities increased so much among employers as well as employees in the last ten years? There are a couple of key factors that are responsible for this. This includes:

  • Technological developments
  • Increased employee awareness
  • Changed family dynamics

Let's take a closer look at the matter.

Technological developments

The tremendous advances in technology have made the home office possible. From the development of cloud-based tools to the proliferation of instant messaging to video conferencing tools, there are an incredible number of ways employers and employees can collaborate online. The new technological possibilities help to streamline project management and make problem solving faster. Some platforms allow teams to schedule meetings, share screens and send instant messages without being in the office or the same country.

Change in work expectations

People want more remote work opportunities in their jobs. 80% of US workers would turn down a job in the absence of flexible work opportunities. Today's workers want more flexibility to save commuting costs and not be distracted in the office.

What also played a role is people's changed perceptions of their work. Travel, for example, has emerged as one of the top priorities among the younger generations.

In general, like Generation X, Millennials don't mind changing jobs or even careers over the course of their lives. However, they place more value on flexibility and a good work-life balance than other generations. 69% of them would forego other benefits in order to work from home instead. 74% of Millennial or Gen Z managers allow their team members to work remotely for much of their time, compared to 58% of Baby Boomers. Plus, they're twice as likely to invest in technology to work successfully from home.

Attitude of the younger generation to the home office

  • 69% of millennials would forego other benefits in order to work from home instead.

  • 74% of Millennial or Gen Z managers allow their team members to work remotely for much of their time.

  • Only 58% of baby boomer managers allow their team to work remotely.

  • Millennials and Gen Z are twice as likely to be willing to invest in technology in order to be able to work successfully in the home office.

While work-life balance isn't the only priority for millennials, they have a strong desire to work on their own terms - their own schedules can be a part of it. Millennials look for companies that align with their personal beliefs and goals. They want to feel connected to their work and stand up for organizations that serve an essential purpose.

With millennials fueling change in the workplace, the “normal” 9 am to 5 pm working day could soon reach a turning point. New technologies and the call for flexibility mean that more and more companies are relying on home offices instead of sticking to traditional working hours. In order to attract the best talent, companies must enable remote working accordingly.

Changed family dynamics

The norm has shifted from one working parent to two working parents, with the number of single households increasing. When families work at home, it is easier for them to maintain their income while raising children.

Remote Business Growth

Large technology companies like Amazon have proven that it is possible to be sustainably successful with a remote setup. Global companies that successfully work from home have inspired many SMEs and start-ups to do the same. The advantages are obvious: more flexibility, access to a larger talent pool and lower overall costs.

Better access to a global workforce

Instead of having to recruit from one region, employers nowadays have access to a global job market that is available online. Hiring remote workers allows companies with a much larger talent pool to expand without limits.

The redesign of the office after COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to switch to working from home. What role will the office play after the virus and what trends will shape the future of work?

flexibility

Flexibility and the ability (as well as the willingness) to adapt should become an important success factor for companies. In the absence of a vaccine, workers must be able to work from home to ensure their safety.

Changed settings

Companies have to consider the preference for working from home when it comes to office situations after COVID-19. According to a recent McKinsey study, 80% of respondents said they enjoyed working from home, while 41% said they were more productive than in the office. 28% said they were equally productive.

More and more people are choosing to work from home. Companies have to take this fact into account when thinking of benefits in order to attract talented professionals.

How did people experience working in the home office during the pandemic?

  • 80% enjoyed working from home.

  • 41% say they are more productive than in the office.

  • 28% were just as productive at home as they were in an office.

Space becomes important

Companies that reopen their offices before a vaccine is available not only need to adjust their office space, but also limit the number of employees who return at the same time. Social distancing could become more of a challenge for businesses with small offices.

Would you like to learn more about the effects on co-working spaces? Read our article on the future of shared workspaces after Corona.

Advantages of the home office

The advantages of the home office differ depending on the employer and employee. Let's look at these benefits of working remotely in two paragraphs.

Advantages of the home office for employers

What are the benefits of the home office for employers?

  • More productive: 77% of workers who work from home say they are more productive.

  • Fewer absences: 56% said working from home reduced their absences.

  • Better workforce: The search for employees is no longer tied to location.

  • Global focus: New forms of work open up international perspectives.

  • More availability: a workforce that is available around the clock.

  • Lower operating costs: There are no workplace costs.


  • Close skill gaps: Reduce employee knowledge gaps by recruiting globally.

  • Less turnover: 79% of executives say that teleworking and flexible working hours are their best strategies for retaining employees.


Increased productivity

Put simply, remote workers are more productive when they are away from the office. 77% of employees who work from home say they are more productive. And those with particularly complex tasks that require little interaction with those involved are much more productive in the home office than in the office.

Reduce employee absenteeism

The home office model gives people the opportunity to combine life and work more easily. For example, a person could work in the morning, attend a school event, and then return home to finish their projects. It works without taking the entire afternoon off. Thanks to the newfound flexibility, employees have to apply for leave less often - and that's better for you as an employer. In a recent survey, 56% of employees said that working from home reduced their absenteeism.

Larger talent pool

Companies that operate in a sparsely populated location can only recruit a limited number of talent. But as we all know, well-qualified professionals can be found anywhere. Companies that offer home offices can make full use of this trump card. You can leverage the skills of remote workers around the world and have access to a much larger pool of talent. Regardless of location, you can drive innovation and successfully lead your company into the future.

More globally oriented

Global networking continues to grow. Companies need to think globally in their recruiting efforts and look for talented candidates who are internationally oriented and speak multiple languages. This works particularly well with location-independent recruiting, because employees can be hired anywhere in the world.

Workforce available around the clock

As an alternative to shift work, companies can build a global workforce that is available 24/7. This results in advantages especially for corporations with continuously open customer service departments. Local staff bottlenecks can be eliminated and customers receive support around the clock because work is carried out across different time zones. Good availability sets companies apart when it comes to excellent customer service and technical support.

Lower operating costs

Companies that invest in remote workers are reducing their space requirements and the associated costs. This includes not only renting the office space itself, but also electricity, water, office supplies, furniture, coffee, snacks and repair costs. There are only costs for communication tools, with many free solutions available online.

Better talent acquisition

83% of employees - whether in the office or from home - say that working remotely makes them feel happier. With a flexible home office model, companies can attract global employees. 75% of companies say remote working is one of the best ways to retain employees.

Closing skills gaps

It is not easy to find talented people with the right qualifications. By hiring remote workers, skills gaps can be closed. Companies that do not limit their hiring practices to one geographic region are more agile and remain competitive.

Less fluctuation

Many employees see the option of a home office as a benefit. This not only increases the likelihood of attracting high-performing employees, but also strengthens employee loyalty and reduces the costs for new appointments. In a survey by Future of Work, 79% of business leaders said teleworking and flexible working hours were their best strategy for retaining employees.

This is mainly due to the flexibility that teleworking brings with it. For example, if an employee moves, working remotely gives them the freedom to work from anywhere. This makes them less likely to leave the company. Another advantage is the better work-life balance - especially for parents of young families.

Benefits of working from home for employees

the main advantages of remote work

  • 91% say they have a better work-life balance.

  • 40% indicate a flexible schedule.

  • 30% say they can work from anywhere.

  • 14% said they had more time to spend with their families.

  • 13% say “working from home”.

  • 12% mention freedom to travel.

  • 11% name the working environment they have chosen.

  • $ 4,000 - the average income increase for remote workers compared to their office colleagues.

Better work-life balance

Those who work in the home office are more flexible and enjoy a better work-life balance - one of the greatest advantages. The possibility of organizing one's private and professional life more flexibly plays a major role in the work ethic and has a positive effect on the subjective perception of stress. This is confirmed by 90% of those questioned in a recent study.

Flexible schedules

Not everyone is productive at the same time. Some people are morning grouches, others are night owls. An office job with traditional working hours offers less flexibility than remote work opportunities. 40% of people who work in the home office see this as the greatest advantage of distributed teams.

Work anywhere

It's great when you can work anywhere and have the choice to work independently or with others (co-working spaces and remote work go hand in hand). No wonder that 30% of people working in the home office see precisely this fact as their greatest advantage.

More family time

According to a recent study, having more family time is the second most important benefit of working at home. 15% think this is important. Many things become easier, especially for the parents of young families - these include transport to school, planning holidays and making appointments.

Work from home

13% of remote workers say that working from home is the biggest benefit of working remotely. You no longer have to commute to and from work and can work flexibly and without distraction.

Free choice of working environment

Those who freely choose their place of work can tackle important tasks without being constantly distracted by other, less important tasks or noise. 11% of employees working in the home office named their work environment as the greatest advantage. Full concentration leads to good results and more productivity - this is easy to understand and brings us to our next point.

The freedom to travel

Would you like to work in another city, another country or maybe even on an island? Whichever you choose, the choice is ultimately yours. Because of this, 12% of remote workers say the greatest benefit of working from home is the ability to travel.

Lower costs

While employers benefit from a reduction in operating costs, employees save on travel costs for public transport or gasoline when they work from home. You no longer have to commute to work or have lunch out. Another advantage is the time saved - time that can be used instead for work. And it pays off: the average annual income of most remote workers is $ 4,000 higher than that of their office colleagues.

Challenges of the home office for employers

In this section, we discuss the challenges of remote working for employers, including the culture that goes with it. We also give executives some home office tips. They show how to build a strong work culture with a remote team, how to adapt to the remote work culture and how to make it easier for employees to work in the home office.

the biggest challenges of the home office for employers

  • Working across time zones

  • Intercultural sensitivity

  • Communication gaps

  • Onboarding issues

  • Difficulty building a team

  • Fears of Loss of productivity

  • difficulties in performance measurement

Working across time zones

One of the biggest challenges for companies that rely on home office is working across different time zones and the associated problems of leading virtual teams. What happens if answers arrive later than expected and language barriers prevent collaboration? Team leaders and managers are required to act with foresight and take appropriate measures. This way, problems can be defused before they arise.

Intercultural sensitivity

When companies access global employees, language and cultural barriers can arise, which in turn can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. There are even differences between employees who speak the same language in different countries.

Communication gaps

Lack of communication poses a real threat to remote management and remote workers. If face-to-face communication is missing (and not enhanced by video conference tools), employees miss important facial expressions and body language cues that are important for business decisions and are part of a classic office environment.

Another communication problem: companies often fail to formulate clear goals and expectations for employees in the home office.

Onboarding issues

Employees who work in different locations cannot interact with team members or managers in person. They rely on an onboarding process for remote work. Otherwise, they may not feel connected to the company's mission or vision, which will affect the quality of their work.

Difficulty in team building

The freedom to work from anywhere is one of the greatest perks of working remotely. Team building can be a challenge for dispersed teams operating around the world. Don't underestimate the importance of getting to know your people - strong bonds have a positive effect on productivity and turnover.

Fears of a loss of productivity

Will my employees just work less when they are in the home office? This is one of the biggest concerns companies considering remote work policies. However, a two-year study from Stanford University found that people working from home are much more productive. And at the end of the study, many participants preferred to work at home rather than in the office.

In another survey of 5,500 workers, 66% said their productivity outside the office improved significantly, with 76% saying there were fewer distractions overall at home.

The above fear can lead to a culture of distrust and micromanagement when it comes to monitoring remote workers. Ironically, this has a negative impact on employee productivity - the last thing a remote team manager wants.

Difficulty measuring performance

First time remote companies are challenged to effectively monitor the performance of their employees. You tend to focus on working hours. It is better for your employees to focus on the project results in the home office. The classic working day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. becomes less important when working remotely, especially when teams work in different time zones.

Home office challenges for employees

Employees working outside the traditional office environment can also encounter difficulties.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES OF THE HOME OFFICE FOR EMPLOYEES
  • lonliness

  • Cooperation issues

  • Difficulties in achieving work-life balance

  • Missing career prospects

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES OF THE HOME OFFICE
  • 21% say they feel lonely.
  • 21% struggle with collaboration and communication problems.
  • 16% say they are distracted
  • 14% struggle with motivation problems.
  • 13% indicate different time zones.

lonliness

Loneliness can affect all remote workers. For 21% of distributed workers, it is the biggest challenge of remote working. Compared to their office colleagues, they sometimes lack the social support they need (and good for them). It makes you feel isolated.

Feeling isolated can lead to poor physical and emotional health, which is bad for both the employee and the company. Finally, communication and motivation problems as well as higher absenteeism are conceivable in this context. 14% say that their motivation to work from home suffers.

Cooperation issues

21% of remote workers say that collaboration and communication difficulties are the biggest problem when working from home. This is probably due to the lack of personal interaction that occurs with remote setups and different time zones (which were cited as a problem in a recent survey of 13% of employees working in the home office).

Difficulties in achieving work-life balance

If employees are free to plan their time, they can theoretically work all the time. The boundaries between work and private life are disappearing and some feel that they are always on call.

According to Buffer, 22% of remote workers find it difficult to switch off after work and 16% find distractions at home a problem. Without a fixed schedule or colleagues with whom you can take regular breaks, people in the home office run the risk of working too many hours and not taking enough time off. This can lead to dissatisfaction or even burnout if the appropriate routines and guidelines are missing.

Missing career prospects

There are many advantages to working from home; unfortunately, career development is all too easily forgotten by companies. Office workers see each other daily while remote teams lack these interactions, which in some cases impacts career development. Research shows that remote workers work harder than their office controls for the same promotions. In other words, even if they work as hard as other teams, they can find it harder to get a promotion.

How to build a home office culture

Wondering how to keep remote teams engaged and looking for ideas for team building activities? Take a look at our home office tips and find out how leading at a distance works in practice.

  • Virtual team building activities

  • Regular contact

  • Take employee feedback seriously

  • Importance of intercultural sensitivity

Virtual team building activities

It is important that employees share and work together, regardless of what time zone they are in. For this reason, company directors and managers should conduct team-building activities. Companies that lack the time or resources for expensive retreats can incorporate virtual meetings into the work week. Video conferencing tools are popular measures for guiding at a distance and are highly recommended in this context.

Employers could set aside time for team building at the beginning or at the end of an online meeting, or schedule a separate meeting devoted to team building that takes place on a weekly basis.

Just as there are special chats for different departments or team projects, separate chats for small talk can also be introduced. Non-binding conversations are the key to team building. Participants can exchange photos, report on their weekends and get to know each other better via a designated virtual platform.

Regular contact

Organizations with successful remote work cultures know that instant messaging and video are great ways to reward employees. Your greatest impact lies in the appreciation of services and contributions. Regardless of whether someone has achieved a certain goal or is celebrating an anniversary at work, appropriate recognition leads to employees contributing to the corporate culture and becoming an official part of the team.

Use videos whenever possible. This gives both parties the opportunity to read body language and facial expressions, which is essential for successful communication with remote employees.

Take employee feedback seriously

Company surveys are suitable for building a remote culture. One study found that employees are 4.6 times more likely to perform well when they feel their voice is heard at work. Home office workers who are taken seriously and included in discussions can offer solutions that benefit the remote company. Anyone who takes leadership at a distance seriously should ask the following questions:

  • Do employees feel that their efforts are valued and recognized?

  • Are you satisfied with your roles and responsibilities?

  • Do managers and supervisors clearly communicate the expectations?

  • Feedback should be taken up, discussed and implemented.

  • The willingness to embrace change and feedback is central to a company's success - especially when it comes to bringing virtual teams together.

Companies can use anonymous responses to assess how committed employees are in their roles and how committed they are to the company as a whole. However, managers should be aware that anonymity is not necessarily a guarantee of transparency. Certain employees may still feel anxious about their responses.

Importance of intercultural sensitivity

Would you like to know how to build a strong culture and successfully lead virtual teams? Take into account intercultural sensitivity. A practical example: As part of a team-building exercise, you can encourage remote workers to share insights into their cultures and regions. This reduces misunderstandings and strengthens the bond between team members - perfect for a strong remote working culture!

Home office solutions: Tips for the successful management of virtual teams

Leading in the home office is not an easy task, but it is quite possible if you proceed systematically. Our remote employee management guidelines, which are listed below, have worked well. Just click on one of the titles to go straight to the section you want.

Tip 1: Set clear expectations.

Tip 2: Communicate effectively.

Tip 3: Stay organized.

Tip 4: Define performance goals.

Tip 5: Think about promotions.

Tip 6: Consider a gamification strategy.

Tip 7: Offer enough benefits.

Set clear expectations

The provision of guidelines and structure helps your employees understand what is expected of them and they can concentrate better in the home office. In addition, potential misunderstandings, stress and loss of productivity can be better avoided.

Communicate effectively

A clear communication strategy is essential for remote work to be successful. Anyone who leads virtual teams should consider the following points:

  • Make a priority list so your employees know which tasks to focus on first.

  • Together with your employees, determine the number of responses per week and define the form in which they will take place (e.g. instant messaging for urgent matters and video conference tools for meetings).

  • When is the best time to reach the managers on a working day? And who steps in if you cannot be reached?

  • Let me know beforehand what tasks you would like to have completed by the end of the week or month.

Stay organized

Project management tools can help you lead at a distance and make it easier for you to keep an eye on all tasks and priorities. A good home office organization also provides support for your remote team and enables all employees to understand the current project status.

Define performance goals

With remote teams not tied to the classic 9am to 5pm workday, it is tempting to micromanage them to make sure the job gets done. However, it has been proven to be one of the least effective ways to keep employees engaged. Instead, organizations should focus on whether employees are achieving specific performance goals. Clear goals and KPIs sharpen managers' awareness of success and have a target-oriented effect.

One-on-one interviews are a great way to have an in-depth discussion of goal setting with remote employees. In these conversations, employees can talk to their team leaders and managers about current projects and mention obstacles that stand in the way of completing the tasks. Employees feel supported when one-on-one meetings take place on a regular basis.

Think about promotions

Career prospects are important, also for people who work from home. A lack of career advancement is frustrating and can lead employees to look elsewhere for work. Make regular time for personal video meetings and discuss your professional development and goals for the future with your employees.

Consider a gamification strategy

Gamification refers to the use of game elements (e.g. points and scores) that support the achievement of goals. Gamification in the workplace enables employees to play against each other and makes it easier for employers to lead virtual teams. It can lead to more motivation and is a great way to get new employees on board, promote team building and achieve specific sales or marketing goals.

Offer enough benefits

Regardless of whether it is “work from home” or not: Talented employees only stay in the company if their contributions are valued and they enjoy a healthy work-life balance. A remote workstation is ideal for this. Think of benefits for employees such as B. Incentives for wellness programs, sufficient vacation days or vouchers for childcare. Your company will keep happy and healthy employees who are valued.

How to set up a remote office

Are you interested in how to successfully set up a remote office? Check out our list:

  • Security protocol upgrade

  • Appoint a person responsible for remote work

  • Make sure important documents are online

  • Researching the best UI and UX tools

  • Define communication tools

 

Security protocol upgrade

To avoid unnecessary security breaches and the associated costs, companies should define security protocols with external employees. A list of approved applications and instructions for the safe use of home devices can be integrated into these guidelines. The latter have to be revised regularly as technologies are constantly evolving. Define a notification procedure in case a device has been compromised.

Appoint a person responsible for remote work

It helps to have a dedicated person responsible for onboarding new remote workers. She ensures that everyone involved knows who to turn to if they need help or have concerns.

Make sure important documents are online

All important corporate documents for remote workers must be available online. This includes guidelines and HR documents. Make sure that file sharing programs and cloud intranets such as a Google intranet for storing, sharing and editing documents are easily accessible to all relevant people. Onboarding and other processes can be optimized in this way.

Researching the best UI and UX tools

When choosing specific tools and applications for remote teams, organizations need to consider UX and UI elements to ensure workers get the most out of the product.

Platforms with a poor user experience are confusing and frustrating for users. They can lead to more turnover. If people who work remotely like to use a tool instead, then their focus is on work - and that's better for your business.

Define communication tools

In order to work efficiently with your remote workforce, you should define the means of communication in advance. If you lead virtual teams, it must be clear which tools are used for which tasks. Some examples:

  • You use instant messaging for daily communication.

  • Use video conferencing for weekly meetings and training courses.

  • Define the project management tool that you will use to organize workflows.

Many organizations use instant messaging tools like Slack to reduce the amount of email they receive every day. Others may rely on shared note-taking applications that also offer instant messaging capabilities.

However, avoid excessive communication, which can create distractions at work. A policy that regulates sending too many messages can prevent teams from becoming distracted.

How to work productively in the home office

No question about it: Working from home poses challenges. Check out our home office tips for creating a healthy work environment and finding out how to stay connected at home. Clicking on any of the titles below will take you straight to the relevant section.

  • E.Establish a good work-life balance

  • Set up a dedicated work area

  • Reduce distractions

  • Stay organized

  • Take care of your health

  • Take social breaks

  • Exchange with other remote workers


Remote workers use the best ways to stay productive

  • 37% state that they take regular breaks.

  • 33% adhere to fixed working hours.

  • 30% believe a to-do list is important.

  • 25% work in the same place every day.

  • 23% think waking up early is best for work.

  • 20% listen to music while working.

  • 19% say they plan the following working day.

  • 17% use a calendar.

  • 16% say they exercise regularly.

  • 15% find it helpful to keep in touch with others online.

Establish a good work-life balance

Clear boundaries are important for people working from home. Employees have to learn to structure their day, establish daily habits and separate work from private life.

Take Richard as an example: He works as a SEM manager for Happeo from the home office in Barcelona, ​​Spain. A dedicated work area, detailed calendar and regular breaks structure your day and prevent unwanted distractions. What also helps him to stay focused: Limit the use of social media and only surf a little online.

Remote workers looking to improve their work-life balance can experiment with different methods to improve their productivity. You could e.g. For example, get up early or use the well-known “Pomodoro technique”, which first involves working 25 minutes and then taking a break of 5 to 10 minutes in order to increase overall productivity.

Employers can help set limits by introducing flexible office hours or planning regular exchanges. Availability expectations should be set as well as project timing.

Set up a dedicated work area

Setting up a permanent workplace can also help to work more efficiently and productively - be it in the home office or in a co-working space. Working in the same place every day and having fixed hours can help you focus.

Co-working spaces are particularly practical for everyone who only has limited space to work at home, but also for workers who have to meet customers in person or want to exchange ideas with others.

Instead of working at home alone, remote workers have the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of people on a daily basis. Since most co-working spaces have both private offices and an open floor plan, members can choose whether they want to work on a project independently or with like-minded people.

Reduce distractions

Interruptions from family members, childcare, and housework lead people to procrastinate and postpone their work. Such distractions can put certain tasks at risk.

To counteract this, work at times when you can concentrate better. One of the advantages of working from home is that you have a flexible schedule. Remote workers can get their jobs done during the distraction-free hours of the day.

Others may prefer to block out distractions by going to a coffee shop or co-working space to get on with day-to-day chores. This change of scenery can physically free people from interruptions that are stealing their time.

Stay organized

Organizations that are well organized will find it easier to manage their remote workforce and help out on an individual basis.

Excellent organizational skills enable people in the home office to keep track of various tasks. If you're wondering how to stay motivated and organized when working from home, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep a to-do list.
  • Use a calendar.
  • Plan the next working day.
  • Project management tools like Trello, Asana or Monday make organizing workflows a breeze.

With project management tools, teams can manage their time and stay informed of upcoming deadlines. When remote workers capture status updates within the programs, there is no need for meetings, which improves overall efficiency.

With the help of project management tools, managers can easily communicate and collaborate with colleagues, organize notes and delegate tasks to the right people online.

Take care of your health

It goes without saying that overtime, an unhealthy diet, and a lack of exercise all affect your health and mood, which in turn affects the quality of your work and can even lead to burnout. To make matters worse, you sit a lot in the home office, don't commute to work and fall into unhealthy habits more quickly because there is no external control. Make sure you get some fresh air every day, allow for exercise breaks, and listen to music to lift your spirits.

Take social breaks

Social breaks are important; they support a healthy work-life balance by giving people something to look forward to and preventing feelings of isolation from occurring.

Removing from the computer and meeting up with friends, pursuing hobbies and socializing outside of work are all part of taking care of your own wellbeing.

Exchange with other remote workers

Wondering how to build relationships when working from home? Maintaining a good culture with remote teams isn't always easy, but it is possible. Make room for personal video calls and communicate with your colleagues online. This brings remote teams together and makes people feel as close as they do in the office.

Home office collaboration software

Home office tools designed for collaboration make project management easier for remote workers. But which tools for teamwork are recommended? Here are some of our top apps and solutions that we've broken down into different categories:

  • The best home office software for team communication and video conferencing

  • The best file collaboration tools

  • The best tools for cloud storage and file sharing

  • The best time tracking tools

  • The best tools for project management

  • The best all-in-one tool for the digital workplace

The best home office software for team communication and video conferencing

Slack

Slack is highly recommended as a home office program. It's great for quick, real-time conversations for businesses of all sizes. Regardless of whether it is about the organization of meetings, the management of internal communication or just an informal exchange - with this home office tool you can create different channels and communicate effectively. Slack also has seamless integrations with a number of other popular tools like Google Drive and Zoom.

Google Hangouts

Another great tool for any remote team is Google Hangouts. It's both an instant messaging and video conferencing tool, and it's incredibly easy to use. An example? A link with team numbers is sufficient to start a meeting. No plug-ins or downloads are required.

Hangouts can be integrated directly from Gmail or via the Google calendar, which makes planning even easier. For meetings that require a full-screen presentation, Google Hangouts also has a screen sharing feature.

zoom

Zoom impresses with excellent sound and video quality and a number of useful functions with which remote companies can easily create meeting links, record meetings and share their screen. In so-called "Zoom Rooms" there is space for up to 1000 participants for a video call. Zoom is highly recommended for remote workers.

Microsoft Teams

This tool for collaboration in the home office enables audio calls, the planning of meetings and has integrated chat and messaging functions. Microsoft Teams is particularly suitable for companies that already work with Microsoft products.

The best file collaboration tools

G Suite

G Suite is the perfect choice if you're looking for a home office tool that offers a high level of functionality and flexibility. You can use a wide range of tools including Forms, Sheets, Calendar and Google Docs.

With these tools, team members can edit a document online at the same time - regardless of whether they are working remotely or in the same office. G Suite integrates seamlessly with other popular home office solutions.

Learn more about how G Suite supports remote working.

Microsoft 365

Do you want to easily share files and folders with your team regardless of location? With Microsoft 365 and the integrated products One Drive, Office, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams it will definitely work! You can work on an online document with other people. If you make changes offline, they will be automatically synced when you come back online.

The best tools for cloud storage and file sharing

Google Drive

Google Drive is ideal as an affordable home office solution for collaboration. The accessibility is great - multiple users can access documents and files anywhere and update them in real time. Google Drive is particularly attractive for companies or teams with a low budget.

The best time tracking tools

Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service with cloud storage that enables companies to share documents in real time. A big advantage is in the security features that can be added (including two-factor authentication). Dropbox also has excellent options for sharing permissions.

For example, it is possible for team members to access files either at the project or at the organizational level - a real time saver for distributed workforces! Teams looking for a low-budget tool should take a closer look at Dropbox.

Clockify

Seamlessly track time you or your team is spending between a number of devices with Clockify - with a desktop app, browser extension or mobile. A recommended remote work tool for any team that simply wants to measure working hours.

Toggl

Toggl is a time-tracking app that makes improving your own productivity (as well as your remote workers) easy. The time tracking tool is simple to use and enables you to easily analyze the time spent on projects, and makes remembering to count the time simple, thanks to its one-click reminder timers.

The best tools for project management

Trello

The minimalist and straightforward style makes Trello a favorite of remote workers. Several teams can work together on a project using different apps. Think Google Drive, Dropbox, and Slack. No question about it: Trello is one of our favorites among home office tools.

Asana

Asana is another popular tool that makes virtual leadership easier. You can use it to manage projects, delegate tasks and communicate about tasks and deadlines in the tool itself.

Google Data Studio

Many teams spend countless hours generating reports for managers and stakeholders. Google Data Studio gives organizations everything they need to turn data from Google Analytics and other sources into easy-to-understand reports. Thanks to the simple layout and design interface, employees can efficiently create personalized reports. Reports can also be edited in real time.

Depending on the setting, Data Studio automatically collects data on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. The generated report can be automatically sent as a PDF file and provided with a link to the source. This is one of the best remote work apps for creating reports.

The best all-in-one tool for the digital workplace

Happeo

With Happeo you can take your internal communication to the next level.

Companies need intranets to work successfully in the home office. This is exactly what we can do with our remote work platform. Happeo is a Google-supported social intranet platform that simplifies processes and saves companies valuable time and resources. There is no need to use multiple products, so you can concentrate fully on growing your business. With its features and user interface, it is a highly valued home office app.

What is an intranet?

To clarify: An intranet is an online portal in which employees can share or access important information within a company. Because intranets are private, they cannot be accessed by the public over the Internet. Intranet platforms offer a space in which employees can work together on projects, even if they are not in the same place. They are an effective way for teams to save files, read company updates, and connect people.

Information takes many forms - from onboarding documents to meeting notes and business research. An intranet solution is a central place where all this data is stored. Companies use intranets to store employee directories, to provide access to current personnel guidelines or to share new information about products and services. When employees have access to the information they need to do their jobs, they can work efficiently and are more comfortable in their roles.

The collaboration functions of Happeo for virtual teams

Happeo is not only an intranet with an intuitive, user-friendly interface, but also has a number of collaborative social networking features that promote a successful community and work culture in the home office as well as improve employee productivity and internal communication.

The features of all of our Happeo pages include:

    • G Suite integration: Happeo offers native integration with Drive, Calendar, Hangouts and the G Suite directory.

    • Controlled Access: You can define different user roles (including viewer, admin, owner and editor) for channels and pages.

    • Community functions: Teams can post, comment, like and use post styling in channels.

    • User friendliness: Set up different channels to encourage communication and collaboration between your employees.

    • Interactive: Create interactive intranet pages that you can easily update with Happeo's dynamic widgets

    • iOS and Android apps: Access Happeo anywhere - with our native, mobile apps for Android and iOS.

    • Multilingual interface: Happeo is available in Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish and can be quickly edited for any other language you want.

    • Knowledge base: You have an extensive library of onboarding resources and study materials to train your team.

  • Customer Community: You have access to a global community of customers, executives and experts who share their most precious secrets, tips and tricks.

The European Union named Happeo one of the most promising start-ups in 2017. We are proud of that and we enjoy supporting hundreds of thousands of users every day. If you'd like to find out more about Happeo, it's best to contact one of our team members today.