Working from home, also known as telecommuting, is becoming the norm for most Americans.
According to one Gallup survey, at least 43% of Americans worked from home occasionally in 2019 (1). This number has likely doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another survey sponsored by LinkedIn, involving 1,000 hiring managers and 2,000 working professionals, found that 82% of workers desire to work from home at least one day per week (2). Up to 57% of the respondents from the same survey said they wanted to work from home at least three days a week.
But why the growing interest in telecommuting?
Working from home comes with numerous perks.
For starters, telecommuters don’t endure hours commuting daily to work. Therefore, there’s less time wasted in settling down to work and no commuter expenses incurred.
Flexibility is another notable benefit of working from home. Telecommuters typically work around their own schedules. You only need to identify your most productive hours and complete your projects around those times.
Last but not least, working from home can help you achieve the often-elusive work-life balance. That’s because you’re much closer to your family and can attend to their needs in real-time.
But while working from home is a blessing to many people, it can also be a nightmare to some.
The biggest challenge faced by telecommuters is distractions. With kids frolicking in the house and music blasting away from the neighbor next door, it’s often difficult to maintain focus.
Another glaring drawback to working from home is a lack of self-discipline. Since you don’t answer to anyone directly, you may occasionally become a victim of procrastination. Before you know it, you’ll have fallen behind with your projects big time.
There’s also the challenge of managing virtual meetings and maintaining efficient collaboration with your team members.
Navigating these pitfalls may not be easy, especially if you’re new to the concept of telecommuting. Fortunately, there are numerous books that can help ramp up your productivity while working from home.
This post reviews the ten best work from home books.
1. Work from Home Superstar: How to Stay Focused and Rock Your Day by Jack Wilson
Theme: Overcoming Distractions
Most telecommuters cite distractions as the biggest challenge with working from home. Without an effective management strategy, these distractions can deal a heavy blow to your productivity.
In this work-from-home book, the author identifies freedom as one of the primary perks of working from home. However, he argues that once that freedom is achieved, telecommuters find it difficult to continue working around a healthy routine. Instead, they find themselves slacking off and engaging in entertainment activities at the expense of their official duties.
The book then outlines various tips that every telecommuter can implement to overcome distractions and be more productive.
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Themes: Overcoming Distractions and Maintaining Focus
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a popular work-from-home guide that has helped millions of telecommuters around the world achieve their true potential. The book, which was published in August 1989, had sold over 20 million hardcover copies worldwide by its 25th anniversary.
Stephen Covey summarizes seven healthy habits that, if practiced diligently, can help boost your productivity even in the face of distractions.
The habits include:
• Habit 1: Be Proactive
• Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
• Habit 3: Put First Things First
• Habit 4: Think Win/Win
• Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
• Habit 6: Synergize
• Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
3. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
Themes: Overcoming Distractions, Maintaining Focus, and Prioritizing Tasks
Besides eliminating distractions, telecommuters can also ramp up their productivity by prioritizing tasks and maintaining focus. These are the key themes addressed in this work-from-home book.
In this handy telecommuter guide, the author illustrations how you can clear your mind of negative thoughts and stay focused on your work. The book begins by posing one fundamental question – “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
If you can answer this question satisfactorily, you’ll find it easy to prioritize your tasks. You’ll then be able to free your schedule of unnecessary baggage and stay focused on your goals.
4. The Home Office Handbook: Rules of Thumb for Organizing Your Time, Information, and Workspace by Lorie Marrero
An organized home office may seem out of reach for many telecommuters. However, it’s not entirely impossible to achieve.
The Home Office Handbook by Lorie Marrero is a handy guide that will furnish you with all the strategies you need to build a solid organizational system and maintain a productive routine. The book shares invaluable tips on how to declutter your working space. There are also insightful pointers on effective time management and team collaboration.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a home-based business owner, or are just working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are plenty of actionable tips in The Home Office Handbook that you can implement to stay organized and ahead of your competitors.
5. Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier
Theme: Perks of Telecommuting
Have you been toying with the idea of working from home but haven’t mustered enough courage to take the plunge? Well, Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier may provide you with the motivation required to get started with a home-based business.
In this work-from-home book, Fried and Heinemeier outline several perks of telecommuting. The two Basecamp founders also highlight various challenges faced by telecommuters, while also offering solutions to each problem.
Remote: Office Not Required also emphasize the fact that working remotely shouldn’t imply accepting the next available job. Rather, it should involve working a job that inspires a sense of personal fulfillment while also helping you achieve a harmonious work-life balance.
6. The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide by Jay-Allen Morris and Kirsten Clacey
Theme: Virtual Collaboration
Working from home is easier when you’re a soloprenuer than when you’re part of a big corporation. If working with a large team comprising members spread far and wide, it’s often difficult to choose a suitable time and tool for collaboration. The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide was authored with these challenges in mind.
The book presents several viable approaches to remote facilitation. You’ll uncover numerous practical strategies for making virtual meetings a success.
For instance, you’ll learn how you can overcome technical barriers and how to plan quality teleconferences where every participant feels motivated to contribute. With this guide, every virtual meeting will be something to look forward to.
7. The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turner
The Long-Distance Leader is a book for home-based business owners or telecommuting managers who experience challenges leading their team remotely. Authored by the cofounders of the Remote Leadership Institute, Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel, the book outlines foundational leadership principles that can help corporate leaders guide their teams effectively.
In The Long-Distance Leader, Eikenberry and Turmel unveil a ‘Three-O model.’ This model includes cardinal leadership elements that have remained unchanged whether leading a team physically or virtually. They include Outcomes, Others, and Ourselves.
For effective discharging of your leadership mandate, The Long-Distance Leader authors recommend pairing the ‘Three-O’ model with the ‘Remote Leadership Model.’ The latter model emphasizes leveraging technology as a productivity tool as opposed to a distraction.
8. Working Remotely: Secrets to Success for Employees on Distributed Teams by Teresa Douglas, Holly Gordon, and Mike Webber
Theme: Virtual Networking and Overcoming Loneliness
Loneliness is another notable drawback of working from home. This is especially common for telecommuters who live alone. While remote workers crave a peaceful working environment that’s free from distractions, too much loneliness can breed boredom and stifle creativity.
Working Remotely discusses how to ward off loneliness and boredom in a home office setting. The book also outlines various ways you can excel at virtual networking and build meaningful professional connections.
The authors of this handy guide are all successful remote workers. Therefore, the insights shared in the book pretty much come from the horses’ mouths.
9. Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom by Tricia Goyer
Theme: Work-Life Balance
Balanced by Tricia Goyer is a special guide for work-at-home moms. The author, a homeschooling mom, shares various practical tips that work-at-home moms can execute to juggle between completing assignments and taking care of their family responsibilities.
Some of the tips include:
• Creating focus themes for your family
• Prioritizing your schedule
• Utilizing your job for your benefit as well as for the benefit of your kids
The most noteworthy takeaway from this book is that achieving a work-life balance as a work-at-home mom is a process rather than an overnight event. Even the author herself admits she’s yet to achieve perfection despite having been able to raise and homeschool six kids.
10. Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran
Theme: Managing Microaggressions
Sometimes, the key to productive telecommuting lies in how effectively you manage microaggressions between your virtual team and collaborators. Admittedly, microaggressions are exceedingly difficult to handle when working remotely. You can’t physically walk to your colleague and let them know that what they said or did hurt you. It’s even worse if you’re the one committing the offense.
Fortunately, it’s now easy to manage microaggressions within a virtual working space, thanks to this informative work-from-home book by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran. Subtle Acts of Exclusion includes tips on how you can handle microaggressions even while working from home.
The authors offer insights on what you can do to build rapport with your virtual team in a bid to prevent relationship damage caused by instances of microaggressions. Most importantly, you’ll learn of ways to spot and address subtle acts of sexism, racism, patronage, and other forms of discrimination before they can cause significant damage.
Achieving excellence as a telecommuter takes time. There will be numerous initial challenges to contend with (3).
But with patience, perseverance, and an informative telecommuting guide, you’ll find your footing sooner than you could ever imagine.