Flexible working is one of the most popular benefits a business can offer.

If you’ve ever wished you could pick up your kids from school, or make a dental appointment without using up precious annual leave, you’ll understand why.

Our network of virtual assistants in the US and UK all work remotely. But, in spite of the obvious benefits, doing it full time can be lonely, resulting in productivity lows.

Here, six experienced virtual assistants share their tips for staying productive and beating the loneliness:

1. “Extroverts find working alone the hardest because they get their energy from people. Sitting in a cafe does very little to combat that because interaction is minimal, even though people are all around you. Once a week, I spend £10 to hot-desk from a co-working space for a day. I get a change of scene and I get stimulation from chatting to other people who also miss the buzz of the office. It’s the best purchase I make all week.”

2. “I’ve teamed up with some other mums I know through my daughter’s nursery who have gone back to work on their own terms. Most of us are either part time, or work from home at least part of the week. We have spoken to some cafes in town and we meet up with our laptops at different cafes on different days of the week, drink coffee and work alongside each other. The cafe owners know we’re coming, so they save us a big table.”

3. “Make your office a sacred space, cut off from the rest of the house. At the very least, you need a door for privacy and a window for natural light. By separating your workspace from the rest of your home, you get separation from work when you switch off in the evenings.”

Creating a workspace you love can boost productivity (Pic: Pixabay)

4. “I’ve spruced my office up with some low-maintenance indoor plants in fancy pots from my local garden centre and some Muji stationery and storage boxes. I built my desk by hand using birch plywood cut into different sizes, to make a shelf for my computer, and others above it for storage. It’s small – just a corner of a spare bedroom next to a window – but enjoying my workspace makes a huge difference to my productivity.”

5. “Jobs without deadlines always get pushed to the bottom of the list. Create deadlines, put them in your diary, and don’t leave your desk to make a cup of tea until they’re done. When there’s only you to hold yourself accountable it can be hard to get the tedious admin jobs done. Sometimes I’ll even ask a colleague to check in with me on Skype and see if I’ve done a job I keep putting off.”

6. “If there’s a choice between a catch up call or an email with a client, I’ll always choose the call. They give me the same buzz as face-to-face meetings – something I really need when I’m working remotely.”