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Five tips for how to stay focused working from home

The pandemic pushed companies and individuals to adapt to the “new reality” of working from home.

Practically overnight, living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms transformed into offices. Even before the pandemic, “remote work” was a much-debated topic, but even those who oppose it will admit remote work has its benefits. 

Research by McKinsey showed that over 60 percent of employed Americans are currently working from home, a 40 percent increase from a couple of years ago. In total, remote work has grown by a whopping 140 percent since 2005. Moreover, according to the same McKinsey study, around 80 percent of Americans stated that they enjoy working from home more than being in the office.

Still, enjoying remote work and staying focused while working from home are two different things. While the pandemic exposed many of the positive aspects of remote work, it also revealed some of its deficiencies.

How to stay focused working from home

According to research about the pandemic conducted by the International Labor Organization, lockdowns and stay-at-home measures affected an estimated 3.3 billion people globally, or around four out of five workers. 

Being thrown into a new work environment in the comfort of our own homes and collaborating with employees in new ways can elicit all sorts of productivity challenges. Subpar Internet access and videoconferencing tools, as well as work calls at random hours, are a few of the obstacles people face daily while working from home.

However, despite fears and challenges, 40 percent of American employees say they’re more productive than they were in the office, and 28 percent say they’re just as productive at home, according to research from McKinsey.

Research results aside, a large percentage of people struggle to be productive while working remotely. With that said, we have gathered five key points to help you stay focused while working from home.

Keep your home office organized 

The line between work and home life has officially blurred. Many employees never fully disconnect from work, which leads to burn out, lower productivity, and job dissatisfaction, reports career coach Lynn Berger. The key is to create physical separation in your home between workspace and leisure space.

If it’s not physically possible to separate your home office from the rest of your space, try to dedicate one corner of a room exclusively as a space for work. The corner should feel separate from the rest of your home and be comfortable, with a proper chair and natural lighting if possible.

Define your working hours and schedule

Make your working hours clear to your manager and colleagues, as working from home can quickly morph into the perception that you’re available 24/7.

We recommend that employees collaborate during hours when the whole team is available and stick to regular working hours as much as possible. Also, do not forget to schedule breaks during working hours away from the computer and phone. Taking regularly scheduled breaks will ultimately improve your productivity. 

Avoid distractions such as TV and social media

Understandably, many people find remote work challenging because of all the distractions around them. So, it’s important to keep your focus on work during working hours by avoiding disruptions such as TV, Netflix, music, social media, and your smartphone.

Stay in touch with colleagues

People feel lonely and disconnected during difficult times, which can exacerbate mental health issues. That’s why it’s extra important to stay in contact with your colleagues and employees and check up on them at least once a week. Companies with a well-developed remote work culture offer many ways to socialize via chat channels, regular online meetups, video calls, and phone calls. Socializing with your colleagues is much more important now than it was before the pandemic.

Use technology to stay focused working from home

It can be challenging to create a structured work schedule while wearing pajamas. Thankfully, there are platforms that help you stay productive and efficient, from Internet-blocking programs that prevent social media scrolling to apps that help schedule and manage work meetings.

During the first COVID-19 wave, a new generation of tech tools launched to help maintain productivity and improve employee collaboration as they continue to work from home. Below are several battle-tested apps that have proven their worth as the world transitioned to remote work.


Zoom has grown exponentially during the global pandemic as most meetings moved online. Zoom videoconferencing helps companies stay in touch with their employees, colleagues, and business partners. New features in Zoom help teams deliver conferences and webinars via video, and schedule and record online meetings. 

Great Place To Work

For HR teams struggling to monitor employee satisfaction levels and keep remote employees engaged, a tool designed to improve these areas can help immensely. Great Place To Work has quickly become a leader in developing healthier and happier work cultures. The app has surveyed millions of employees to help organizations build high-trust and motivational workplaces. As a bonus, HTEC is involved in the development and continued evolution of Great Place To Work.


Keeping track of the tasks, documents, and collaborations among employees can be a nightmare. ClickUp gives users a straightforward way to organize tasks and calendars, manage team capacities for projects, and track milestones. The app syncs with Google Calendar and other popular productivity tools. 


Workforce management has become more complicated with the shift to remote work. Quinyx is a platform that streamlines scheduling, attendance management, and employee engagement. Companies such as McDonald’s, Wolt, and DHL have implemented this SaaS management software to reduce costs and help businesses run more efficiently.

Organizational productivity will continue to change

Companies are reacting to remote work scenarios in two ways. On the one hand, they may mandate that employees return to offices. On the other, they may adapt to the new reality and leave the option of working from home or in the office up to employees. 

Companies that let employees decide about remote work have realized that working from home can be more cost-effective for the organization, while also making life safer and more flexible for employees.

The remote work movement is also changing how productivity is measured. According to Harvard Business Review, working from home boosts company-wide productivity rather than diminishes it. Furthermore, The MIT Sloan School of Management’s Executive Education Department reported in its Quality of Life Survey that when an employee has a supervisor who is open to flexible (i.e. partially remote) work, that employee is more likely to stay with the company and experience a better quality of life.

The results from MIT’s research speak for themselves:

  • 90% reported their family and personal life improved.
  • 85% said that their stress was reduced.
  • 80% said that their morale and engagement improved.
  • 62% felt more trusted and respected.
  • And 93% even believed that collaboration was better than before working remotely.

Regardless of where you stand in the remote vs. office debate, the pandemic pushed remote work into the limelight and exposed millions of workers to its pros and cons.

Rather than waiting for the storm to blow over, organizations should embrace the benefits of remote work, not as a means to an end, but as a viable option for a new generation of workers.

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