Woman Working From Home

The decision of whether or not to hire remote workers is often based on two competing ideas for a small business owner. First, think of all the money you could save with fewer employees under your roof! And second, think of all the money you could lose if they end up sleeping on their couches all day!

Worry not. LifeHacker reports that remote workers tend to be more productive than office staff. Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting Group, believes this is due in part to remote workers trying harder to make up for their absence.

What can you do to ensure those remote workers continue to try harder? Here are four tips to get the most out of remote workers for the long term:

1. Pick the Right Workers

Working remotely isn't for everyone. Employees whose eyes get heavy at the mere sight of a couch should probably be kept in house. But some signs are more subtle. Jeff Haden explains for Inc.com that the traits of a successful remote worker include being proactive, communicating almost obsessively, being results-focused and constantly seeking to learn new things.

Finding these traits in a remote worker sets up your business for success from day one.

2. Pick the Right Tools

After physical distance, lack of structure is the biggest change for remote workers. Mashable Business suggests utilizing software that provides structure, such as iDoneThis.

"iDoneThis service sends an email to each employee at the end of every day," writes Stephanie Buck. "Simply reply to that email, detailing the projects you've tackled that day so that fellow co-workers can comment on and high-five your progress. It's a positive way to encourage you to stay on task."

Also, encourage workers to take advantage of tools that help them stay on track, such as RescueTime or find their optimal work space and pace like Work+ and Coffee Break.

3. Connect Workers to Company Culture

"Lest you think of 'culture' as a luxury," writes Chris Brogan for Entrepreneur.com, "know that it is everything to your business as an entrepreneur. Company culture acts as the DNA that helps shape your operational efforts."

To remotely infuse company culture, Brogan recommends using technology to streamline communications, consulting remote workers on all ideas and giving them a chance to voice opinions.

Also, he says, "celebrate the non-work stuff. Culture that builds around hard-working teams often tends to forget some of the 'fluff.'"

4. Mandate Time Off

Rather than using working from home to slack off, Time Business says the opposite is true.

"Several studies show that many remote workers put in more hours because they’re always connected, and it’s too easy to work while sitting in front of the tube with the family, or to check in long after the workday has ended," writes Paul Shread. "This is not a boon for the employer; it’s a big, fat liability. People get sloppy and burned out, and it creates a false impression of how much work the job actually entails."

Go ahead; live the dream. Hire the right kind of remote worker and see how it works for your small business. Just remember, remote doesn't mean disconnected. Utilizing strategies to keep remote workers on task will help maximize their productivity, and their benefit to your bottom line.

What position at your business do you think could be handled remotely? Could one of your current employees be a good candidate?