Find out our top tips for integrating homeworkers into office life.

How to include homeworkers in office life

In the modern age of flexible working, it's likely that part of a company's workforce will primarily be based at home, rather than in the office, while others will swap between the two.

But this presents some challenges, including how to keep communication channels open between both home and office-based workers, as well as how to help homeworkers feel included in office life.

Homeworkers' contribution

Research carried out by CV-Library found that 18.2 per cent of the UK's workforce permanently works from home, while 15.4 per cent split their time between their home and the office.

The survey also led to the discovery that 84.3 per cent of homeworkers believe they are more productive than their office-based counterparts, indicating that these members of staff are a valuable asset to a company's workforce.

What's more, 77.4 per cent of all workers said their productivity levels increased when working from home, potentially due to the fact there are fewer distractions when they are away from the office and they are not tired from their commute.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, commented: "As long as employers manage their employees effectively and monitor productivity levels, it should be easy to determine which environment works best for staff, and ultimately, the company's output."

If some members of staff do indeed work better and more efficiently from home, how can facilities managers and other bosses ensure these individuals are fully integrated with the rest of a company's workforce?

Embrace the cloud

Thanks to the cloud, it is now easier than ever for homeworkers and office-based staff to work collaboratively. Applications such as Google Drive allow for documents to be stored in one central location and shared among colleagues, meaning that a homeworker and an office worker can contribute to the same report, spreadsheet or presentation at the same time.

A report from the Cloud Industry Forum published earlier this year revealed that 84 per cent of UK businesses are now embracing the cloud, with 78 per cent of these regularly using two or more cloud-based applications.

Having the ability to store and file documents in a single location can help firms on the path to becoming paperless - particularly if they take advantage of document scanning technology to upload and share files that would have ordinarily been printed and distributed to staff.

Not only does this allow for a more collaborative approach between home and office workers, but using less paper also helps to improve a company's green credentials.

Use collaborative communication channels

Cloud-based technologies allow for more collaborative communication channels, enabling homeworkers to easily keep in touch with office life.

Applications such as Google Hangouts, Skype and Slack provide staff with platforms to share and upload files, take part in video calls, send instant messages and work closely together on projects, regardless of their location or the distance between them.

These communication channels mean homeworkers can be included in office meetings and managers could even consider setting up a video screen on a wall and getting everyone to connect to it in the mornings - that way, all workers are included in office life, even if they're actually at home.

Invite everyone to social events

The office Christmas party or summer barbecue doesn't just have to be for those physically based in the office. Homeworkers are part of the team too and this is the perfect opportunity to get everyone together in one place. If the business operates across multiple locations, these occasions are also a good chance to get people from each site together.

Aside from providing everyone with the opportunity to let their hair down and bond over a glass - or five - of wine courtesy of the company, work socials are a great place to network. Employees and managers alike could discover skills that they didn't know their colleagues had over a drink, presenting them with more options for their next project.

Start a company blog

Another way to get everyone interacting with each other is to start an internal company blog. Every month, ask staff what they've been up to or what they've got planned for the next few weeks. Publish a small paragraph for everyone and email it around so others can see their interests.

In a busy workplace where not all teams will interact and competitive egos can get in the way, it can be hard for new starters or more introverted employees to find common ground with each other. A blog can provide them with some conversation starters and might even alert managers to talents they didn't know their staff had.

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