The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally challenged what “work” means for thousands of companies and displaced millions of workers, pushing them into the gig economy. Working from home is the new norm, not the exception, as even the most resistant businesses and employees are forced to adapt.
A recent PwC survey of more than 350 companies across 37 countries found that 70% of companies surveyed said that they had to put extra effort into communicating effectively with their remote workers, and 40% said that the pandemic had impacted their employees’ efficiency. However, 84% of employees said they were able to maintain productivity outside of the office, further proving that remote working is here to stay.
Remote working can be challenging and lonely, even for the most productive employees. Without the commute, the “face time” with your coworkers, or a sense of structure in your day, it may be tempting to “go to work” in your pyjamas, stay online well after working hours, or give in to the frequent distraction of social media while getting little done.
If you need help acclimating to a new remote working routine, below are our picks of six classic books that offer practical tips. Whether you are a manager trying to figure out the “new normal” for your team, a freelancer trying to maximise your earning potentials, or a remote employee looking for tips to maintain productivity while avoiding burnout, these books have the answers!
Remote: Office Not Required
By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
As co-founder and partner of the web development company 37signals (now Basecamp), Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson have experienced it all when it comes to managing remote workers. Remote: Office Not Required is a practical guide filled with their tried-and-true insights, detailing how businesses and their employees can embrace working from home and thrive in the process.
This book is especially useful for managers of remote workers, whose key concerns are maintaining productivity, cultivating a healthy working culture, nurturing a collaborative atmosphere, and helping remote employees avoid burnout. The authors debunked common myths about working from home, arguing that “desk time” does not always equal productivity and a lot of “watercooler talk” does not equal a healthy bonding time for the team. Instead, the book offers practical tips that remote employees and managers can take to maximize productivity while still allowing remote workers’ autonomy as well as collaborative teamwork between employees. Remote: Office Not Required is a collection of true stories at 37signals distilled into practical advice that helped the authors grow their company into a remote work utopia while still generating millions of dollars in annual profits.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
By Cal Newport
Remote working may mean that you can avoid the distractions in the office, but working comfortably a few feet from your fridge, your TV, or your pet, may present another set of distractions pulling you away from productivity. Sure, multi-tasking may give you the illusion of efficiency, but this strategy is not sustainable in the long run and may lead to faster burnout. Bestselling author Cal Newport’s Deep Work is a guide to cultivate your ability to concentrate intensely on your work to improve productivity and free up more personal time.
In Deep Work, the author advises you to be more mindful in allocating your time and setting boundaries, especially around technology. The author even suggests using a pomodoro timer to discipline yourself: set a timer to work for 45 minutes, and then take a few minutes break after you have completed the deep work period. By intentionally eliminating unnecessary distractions, you can introduce more periods of deep work into your routine, get more done, rewind completely after work, and avoid burnout.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
By James Clear
If you struggle with maintaining a daily structure and introducing healthy habits in your new working from home routine, this New York Times bestseller may be just what you need to start. Atomic Habits consists of proven methods to keep up with healthy habits while reducing bad habits that may offer immediate gratification but distract you from achieving long-term results.
This book is filled with powerful scientific studies on human behaviours, coupled with interesting anecdotes that make these tips relatable and easy to implement. Simple steps like optimising your environment to reduce distractions, setting a clear plan of action to cultivate good habits, and introducing more friction to reduce bad habits, will help you better structure your workday and maintain productivity outside of the office. The result: you can acquire and sustain deeply rewarding habits that will benefit you in the long run!
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
By Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss’s #1 New York Times Best Seller The 4-Hour Workweek is a must-read for freelancers hoping to create a sustainable freelance strategy and maximise their income potentials. Published in 2009 in a time of economic uncertainty, The 4-Hour Workweek is a ground-breaking guide that challenges the notions of wealth, freedom, efficiency, and happiness at work.
As a successful investor and advisor behind multi-billion-dollar startups like Uber, Facebook and Alibaba, Tim Ferriss has figured out the secret formula to making money work for you. In The 4-Hour Workweek, Ferriss offers a definitive guide to optimising your productivity by eliminating unnecessary interruptions, structuring your day around tasks, and going on an “information diet” to avoid distractions. He also shares a step-by-step strategy to automate passive income, which helped him generate his wealth while working only a few hours a week!
Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life
By Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein
The blurred boundary between work and home not only leads to a cluttered workspace, but also a foggy mind when you try to focus on work and greater anxiety when you try to wind down. In Joy at Work, international organisation guru Marie Kondo applies her infamous KonMari Method to help you implement a total overhaul of your workspace (in this case, your home office) so that you can feel more joy “coming to work” each day.
Remote work requires that we spend the majority of our day online. In this book, the KonMari Method is applied not only to your physical surroundings, but also your working schedule and digital workspace – organising your computer, mobile phone, email inbox, and cloud storage so that they also spark joy. This book is a practical guide to help you reduce both physical and digital clutter, setting clear boundaries for work so you can properly rest when working hours are over.
The Million Dollar Freelancer: Work From Home, Set Your Own Hours & Become Rich
Author: Daniel Hall
Capitalizing on the growing trend of outsourcing to freelancers or small agencies, The Million Dollar Freelancer teaches established and aspiring work-from-home aficionados what it takes to become a successful freelancer.
I wrote the book to share my personal experience in building a successful personal brand as a freelancer, which allowed me to make over 1 million over 3 years, work with my dream clients, receive over 20 project offers per day and get to travel the world while doing the work that I’m passionate about.
The book is a deep dive into the process I used to win jobs on freelancing websites and outside, learning to pick the best clients to work for and keep them happy long-term, all while building a laid-back lifestyle, staying in shape, and cultivating habits for well-being. Whether you are thinking about becoming a freelancer or you’re already doing freelance work and want to improve your approach, you’ll find candid advice and tactics that worked for me and thousands of readers who made this book into the bestseller it has become.
The techniques and information shared in these six books are fun, practical and insightful to help you become more productive while working from home. However, the challenges of remote working are not only limited to productivity – maintaining your physical and mental health is also essential to your professional development. Understanding these challenges, Working Den has developed a toolkit to help you thrive in a remote working environment, like online physical exercises to help you wind down after work, advice from experts to help you assess your burnout, and other helpful tools to help you tackle every challenge of remote working.