Working from home sounds like the dream for many employees, chained to their office desks Monday to Friday. But, as anyone who has done it will attest, it’s not always easy to be productive.

In an office, you’re surrounded by other people, all feverishly getting on with their work. Managers swan from cubicle to cubicle, checking that projects are progressing and that people aren’t wasting their time at the coffee machine.

None of that happens, however, in the home. Those who work remotely have to contend with a lack of accountability and social pressure to work hard. For some, it can be a challenge to get work done.

The productivity drags on remote workers can often be even more significant than just a lack of personal discipline. Distractions can regularly crop up, making the task of getting on with productive work nearly impossible.

So what can you do you be productive while working from home? Here are five tips.

Wear Noise Cancelling Headphones And Block Out Distractions

Working from home while living alongside other people can be a challenge. You never quite know when the kids are going to start screaming or if your housemates are going to have a loud conversation outside your door.

Ideally, you want to block out all these distractions so that you can remain in the zone, utterly focused on the task at hand. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in a pair of over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones naturally block out extraneous noise, giving you the runway you need throughout the day to do your best work. The last thing you want is for people to start chatting outside your office and wreck your flow. It’s a disaster.

Purchase A Virtual Address

The primary purpose of having a virtual address is to boost your cash flow, but they’re vital from a productivity standpoint too.

Let’s say that a client of yours wants to meet with you to size you up and figure out whether they should spend money on your services. You don’t want to entertain them at your home, so your only option is to rent some expensive office space.

Virtual addresses let you get around this little problem by offering the ready-made office services you need, without the price tag. In short, you get a virtual office Sydney in the Sydney CBD without having to pay sky-high rents. Furthermore, you can book office meeting spaces to use when you need them. With a virtual address, there’s no need to ring up a company, book office space, and then pay for it as you go. It’s all possible with virtual address packages.

Get A Virtual Receptionist

On the theme of virtual services, people who work from home should also consider using an answering service as a way to improve their productivity.

The reasons for this are similar to those for wearing noise-cancelling headphones. When you run your own business or work remotely from home, you’re often bombarded by calls from clients, especially during regular working hours. This fact makes it exceedingly difficult to work purposefully on the task at hand. Other people continually interrupt your flow. It’s a nightmare.

A virtual receptionist, on the other hand, can usually deal with a big chunk of your calls, and handle customers you’re not ready to speak with right now. Virtual receptionists can take down details, arrange callbacks at a time that’s convenient for you, and deal with some issues that clients might have.

On top of that, virtual receptionists don’t come with the high price tag of the regular, in-house variety. When you use a virtual receptionist, you’re buying a service, not hiring an employee. Thus you only pay for the reception services you use, instead of having to pay a regular salary no matter what. It all makes for a much more efficient, productive workday, enabling you to get on with high-priority tasks.

Reach Out To Others

Working from home allows you to avoid office politics and high pressure, competitive environment. But it’s not all good news.

Many people, for instance, miss the chats by the water cooler. Others thrive on healthy competition in their workspaces and need people around them to push them to do their best work.

Seasoned home office workers, therefore, often reach out to others and find opportunities for communication with people in their team. They need that feedback and affirmation to feel as if they are a part of something bigger than just themselves.

Reaching out to others is even trickier for the self-employed or those who run remote enterprises. People in these situations can benefit from reaching out to communities of people in a similar predicament to them, or hosting weekly team meetings.

The takeaway point is to avoid a situation in which you lose your drive and motivation. If you know that you’re susceptible to this, then finding opportunities to be around other people is vital.

Stick Rigidly To Your Schedule

People often cite flexibility as one of the benefits of working from home. But, in reality, it’s a curse. Flexibility - or working whenever you like - can create some pretty bad habits, such as going to bed at 4 am and getting to work at midday. What’s more, there’s always the temptation to go out and do something fun in the day, using up your precious, high-productivity hours.

The trick is to stick rigidly to a schedule, no matter what. Most from-home workers get into a daily rhythm. They wake up, chug back their morning brew, and then begin some task, like processing emails from the night before. Then they have breakfast and then get into the main swing of the day, focusing on their core priorities.

While the precise timings of your routine aren’t critical, the ploughing on with work at set times of the day, is. If you’re in a creative role that doesn’t have specific deadlines, you need to be even more rigorous. A routine gives you predictability and structure that you need when there aren’t managers breathing down your neck, telling you what to do and where to be.

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