The rise of technology brought with it the rise of the ability to work completely virtual and remotely. Therefore, with the costs of office space skyrocketing, influencing many companies to downsize without resulting in a redundancy of staff, many employees are given the option to work from the comfort of their own home instead of coming to the office. There are approximately 4.2 million people now working from home in the UK, however though this can have productivity benefits for workers, it can also bring distractions and difficulties.

A recent survey produced by health and wellbeing provider BHSF, conducted with employees who work at least two days from home, found overall that workers appreciate the benefits that home working offers. When asked how working from home makes them feel, the top three responses were: Free (50%) In control (47%) and calm (46%).

However, home working also brings new responsibilities for both the employer and employee. A significant number of those surveyed chose more negative words to describe their feelings. Just over a quarter (26%) said that working from home made them feel remote, 24% felt isolated and 21% lonely. Therefore, when considering implementing working from home days, employers should ensure that steps are being made to make home workers feel included and still a part of the business.

Dr. Philip McCrea, Chief Medical Officer at BHSF, said:

“The results of the survey clearly show that it is not enough to simply offer flexible working to get the best out of employees. Employers must look at how they manage remote workers effectively, supporting their specific health and wellbeing needs to ensure that they get the most out of these employees. If implemented in the right way, home working can have a significant positive effect on employees’ mental health.”

For employees, it is easy to get distracted and relaxed while working at home, therefore it is important to create a routine, and make it a well-known schedule. Interruptions are productivity killers, and when you work from home, your family and friends can be the most frequent sources of interruption. That’s why you need to be proactive and share your schedule. Explain when you’ll be working.

Without someone insisting you take a break, it may become easy to simply get carried away with work. Your calendar may be full of tasks, calls, meetings, deadlines, but it also should include scheduled break periods. Set a time for lunch and break times. Otherwise, your day will get away from you — and so will your opportunities to recharge. Also plan how you will recharge: a meal, a snack, a quick walk, etc. Remember: The best recovery is active recovery.

We know that first impressions – in terms of how we present ourselves to other people – are incredibly important and formed quickly. Psychologically, what you see when you look in the mirror matters, too. If you see someone dressed for success, in a considered outfit, this will inspire productivity. Conversely, if you see pyjamas or sweatpants, and someone who isn’t ready to face the world, this might instil the notion that you aren’t ready to start work.

Employers also have a responsibility of observing home workers in the same way they would office-based staff. Make sure that you are offering the same development programmes, that you are including home workers in the same performance monitoring as other staff and that communication is to the highest of standards. Ensuring these are met can result in a great balance of home working and office-based working for your company.