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Top tips for Working from home – from the UK’s VAs

NHS Work from home

Download our NHS work from home guide

We have compiled our top tips for people - especially NHS workers - who are working from home for the first time.

Top tips from real virtual assistants:

"Having run virtual teams for the last 15 years, the tech is the easiest part to get right - the human element of remote working is the trickiest. You usually see remote teams work well for 4-6 weeks, and then things start to fall apart because of the lack of casual communication. So my top tip would be to schedule in those catch ups every day and make sure you have some way of monitoring progress centrally."

Caroline Wylie of VirtuallySorted.com

"Each person properly set up in separate rooms, it will save everyone's sanity!"
Susan Maloney, mysupportstar.co.uk

"Make sure your internet connection is up to it. Check the links to whatever has been set up for you at work are working properly. Look at cloud sharing (Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox) to synch with your work stuff (so that whatever you do on your laptop at home is duplicated on your desktop/server at work). Get on to Skype, or equivalent so that you can keep communicating with colleagues. Take regular breaks. Enjoy the sunshine whenever it appears, and don't stress."

Carole Meyrick, carolemeyrick.com

"Dress as if you are going to the office - especially wear lipstick ( if you normally wear lipstick that is). How you dress has a direct effect on how you feel."

Shelley Fishel www.tomorrowsva.com

"Put a lock on the fridge door!"

Bev Davies - collaborativeva.co.uk

"Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible - get up at your usual time, put on normal clothes (no pyjamas!) and try as much as possible to keep the day as close to normal as you can."
Joy Elliott redsquirrelpa.com

"It’s essential to get into a routine - whatever suits your circumstances at this weird time, maybe including a morning Joe Wicks workout with the family! But establishing a routine creates order and motivation."

Stephanie Evans www.virtualmoneypenny.co.uk

"Use what would be your commute time to plan your day over a leisurely breakfast, and to allow for frequent breaks."

"Even though I'm working from home I dress as though I am going to the office. I make a list of key objectives for the day and away I go. Routine is key."


"If new to working from home, start your day with your normal routine, whether working from home or the office, you are still working. Set a structure to your day, a time to start, a time for tea breaks, a time for lunch.

Set a buffer to your deadlines. In these times of uncertainty, sometimes you need to gift yourself some freedom to take that extra cup of tea, get some fresh air or take a breather from your screen. Allow yourself flexibility."

Victoria Galbraith identifyvirtualassistant.co.uk

"More people working from home from different companies. People need to remember to maintain confidentiality."

Naomi Campbell, vavelocity.co.uk

"Communicating and checking-in with your staff/team/employer is essential. Don't just assume everyone knows what you are up to. Let them know what you are working on, when it will be completed, what information you require from them and when you will or won't be at your desk."

Gwen Backhouse (Curlew Secretarial Solutions)

"Establish a routine. Dress (almost!) as if you're going to work as normal. Keep social media to a minimum! Take regular breaks."


"Planning. It can be easy to lose track of the days at the moment so take a moment at the end of each day to look at the diary (even if it's blank), focus on the dates coming up and put some things down on your list for the next few days. It will keep you grounded and focused in an uncertain time, like an anchor."

Madeleine Thompson, Virtual Madeleine

"Remember to Plan Breaks into you day. It is only too easy to stay working at your PC or Laptop and forget and time slips bye. Take time out to do get a drink or do some exercise on a regular basis, establish a work life balance routine during the day. #takecarestaysafe"

Philppa Pearson, wittsendbusinessservices.co.uk

"You need to step up the communication. People can’t see what you are doing so you need to make sure you find ways to let them know. Send status reports and schedule calls and video conferences. Set boundaries for yourself and others so work doesn’t bleed into your home life. If you can, work somewhere separate from the main living areas so you can shut the door at the end of the working day and leave work behind."


"The best and first thing I did that works for me is set up my ‘work space’ so that the rest of the home is separate so to speak. It helps keep the work/home life in its place."


"1. Follow a routine. You still need to get up, get dressed, (slobby is fine if no video calls or face-to-face happening), have something to eat, brush your teeth, etc.
2. Block out your diary to include both work periods and movement periods. Working in an office you probably move more than you think. Working from home rarely involves travelling more than a few steps so you need to think about that
3. Keep up communications with co-workers and, (within reason!), social networks as you would within an office environment. It helps to reduce the social isolation
4. Make sure you get outside, even if only for a few minutes. If you work in an office you go outside every day, even if that's only the commute to and from the car. Working from home it's possible to never go outside.
5. If you can work with distractions such as a radio or TV on in the background, fine. But don't kid yourself you can if you can't. Your productivity will go through the floor.
6. Limit your working hours. It's easy to just carry on regardless."

www.linkedin.com/in/shannie - Shannie Platts - Platts Business Solutions

"Few things to start with which I think are important…
Designated work area, preferably somewhere you can close off when finished for the day!
Routine of working hours and regular breaks
Limit distractions if poss - whether that’s other people in the house or social media etc.
Keep in touch with colleagues etc, whether by phone or Zoom, so you don’t feel isolated."


"I would also say getting dressed for work - you can be comfy and casual but i know some people who find if they put shoes on instead of slippers and maybe event makeup and jewellery etc it helps get them into the right frame of mind for working and they are much more productive."


"Some maybe duplicated to others responses but:

  • a designated area for work
  • ensure you have basic stationery: pens, paper, pencil, notepad, ruler, hole pinch and a file to keep any papers altogether.
  • use something like Pomodora Timers or Focusmate, something for accountability. If your accountable to someone/thing, your more likely to be productive
  • allocate time via a timetable if you have other responsibilities like children or caring for others. It can be helpful to know a day in advance of your day to be better time productive
  • use loom (screen recorder) to record processes and send to colleagues. Sometimes easier than trying to explain!
  • use Monday or Trello or similar for progress tracking, or a good old fashion kamban spreadsheet, templates can easily be downloaded from windows office or google search
  • follow the same routine you did when not remote working, get up at same time, have breakfast, have breaks etc
  • change clothes, lounge wear etc may reduce your productiveness
  • take advantage of free trial periods but make sure you sign up when you really need it rather than just for the sake of it, also ensure you read when the period expires so you can cancel before any fees are taken!
  • use clockify or similar time trackers to log work and then you can submit the reports to your employer if needed for proof. Some employees are taking advantage of the situation and not completing work they should be!
  • if using zoom or Skype etc, connect your device via Ethernet wherever possible, your internet will be more stable and reduce the chance of lagging due to excessive use or if you find your internet lagging purchase a Wi-Fi booster, it can’t be later claimed back as an expensive if required for work.
  • most apps have mobile versions and whilst not the full experience, it might be worth looking into if you don’t have a pc or laptop
  • following on from the above, speak to text mobile apps can be very helpful if you are using tablets or mobiles, lessens the change of rsi on thumbs!
  • keep receipts of anything purchased that you needed to buy for work. Within reason and at employer discretion, you could claim the cost back.
  • keep in regular contact with colleagues and managers, not only for work but social too. Many people don’t realise the amount of social interaction they get from their job."

Becci Brindley Www.bespokeadminplus.co.uk

See also  MultiVA: How to secure the relationship

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