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9 practical ways to improve team focus at work
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9 practical ways to improve team focus at work

Everyone wants your attention, from coworkers to apps and personal responsibilities. Here are 9 strategies to spot distracting factors and improve productivity.

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It’s not your fault that you’re struggling to concentrate. Everything is fighting for your attention: team chat, emails, project management app notifications, social media alerts, text messages, and phone calls. 

The average worker uses 10 apps a day.[1] The notifications coming from each of those tools, on top of the time it takes you to regain focus after switching from tab to tab, can distract you. Luckily, in this article, you’ll find strategies you and your team can use to identify focus issues, reduce distractions, and get in a flow state more often. Let’s dive in!

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Why do you and your team struggle to focus?

Even the most productive and high-performing individuals can struggle to concentrate from time to time.Here’s a list of reasons why you and your team might be feeling less productive lately: 

There are too many tools in your tech stack

Having too many apps in your tech stack might be causing you and your team to spend your day clearing notifications and managing the tools rather than doing your pending work. An average employee toggles from tab to tab around 1,200 times a day, which adds up to 4 hours a week, and takes up 9% of annual work time. 

This, along with attention residue (i.e. not being able to focus on a specific task because you’re still thinking of the previous one) can severely damage your team’s productivity—as we’ll discuss later.

You’re prioritizing later over now 

Struggling to focus can lead to procrastination, which makes it even harder to get things done. But procrastination is a natural human reaction to responsibilities. It occurs because we tend to want the good thing now and the bad thing later. 

For example, it’s Monday and you have to finish a lengthy report by Friday. You need all the time you can get to finish on time, but a co-worker sends you an interesting article and you stop working to read it. Why? Because taking a break now is more appealing than working on something that’s due on Friday. Sometimes, we also procrastinate because we’re overwhelmed. Doing the task now sounds too difficult, so we bury our heads in the sand (or the lunch) instead.

There’s an overwhelming amount of notifications or distractions 

You’ve seen how looking at different tabs and apps can hurt productivity. Not only that, but every time you get distracted from an action, it can take you up to 23 minutes to regain focus. Anything from a Slack notification to a tap on the shoulder from your coworker can break your concentration. This makes it impossible to focus for long periods of time and get things done.

You and your team are in high demand

Some companies and roles are very meeting dependent. According to an Asana report, people in leadership positions say they spend 3.6 hours a week in unnecessary meetings. This can make people feel like they don’t have any time left to do actual work or are frequently working late to finish everything.

The same study shares that these meetings usually become “work about work”, which can take up to 58% of the workday. Spending most of the time in meetings can cause teams to have difficulties focusing on more dedicated tasks because their work day is always interrupted by a call or an external request. 

Burnout or high-stress levels

The phrase “resting is also productive” is a cliche, but also very true. A huge part of being productive and able to focus at work has to do with physical well-being. 

If work is making you stressed or anxious, it might increase your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and reduce your ability to focus. Lacking physical activity and poor sleep hygiene can also affect your cortisol levels.

Highly competitive teams could contribute to higher stress levels, making it more difficult to focus. Plus, working at a place with zero tolerance for mistakes can also contribute to burnout, emotional exhaustion, and lack of concentration. 

You and your team feel like you can’t get away from the desk

Spending too much time sitting in the same position and feeling you can’t step away from your laptop can cause muscles to tense, resulting in pain or discomfort.  Feeling that you can’t take breaks during work hours increases stress but doesn’t actually make you more productive. Taking short walks and changing scenery can help you regain focus.

There are personal factors at play

You, as well as your team, have a life outside of work that affects your mental health and overall wellness. There might be personal factors affecting your ability to focus, including but not limited to:

  • A disagreement with a friend, partner, or family member
  • Caring for a loved one who is unwell
  • Worrying about personal finances
  • Grief

Sometimes team members are simply going through personal tough times. Giving that person support and flexibility will do more to improve their time management than ignoring their needs and coming down hard on their performance.

8 strategies to improve focus and concentration at work

Improving concentration requires a multifaceted approach. Solving lack of focus is more complex than listening to white noise when working or coming up with a short daily to-do list. 

Take a look at this list of strategies and implement the ones that speak to your specific needs based on the previously covered factors. 

1. Find out why your team struggles to focus

Try monitoring people’s concentration levels frequently throughout the year.Implement conversations around productivity, morale, and focus during performance reviews or annual cultural surveys. 

You can collect this information in 1:1s, anonymous feedback surveys, or team meetings. The goal is to try and catch potential productivity detractors before they hurt your team’s morale and focus. It’s easier to have these conversations if you’ve fostered a psychologically safe environment where people feel comfortable sharing their struggles.

Once you’ve identified the distracting factors, you can implement a plan to improve your team’s well-being and, in consequence, their productivity levels. You can also use the information to come up with more specific ways to support each team member. H3 2. Audit your meetings and suggest alternatives 

It's hard to focus when your day is broken up by frequent meetings. Audit the number of sessions your team takes part in and: 

  • Reduce the frequency of certain meetings
  • Get rid of unnecessary calls
  • Encourage asynchronous work
  • Introduce a company-wide "no meeting day” (at Switchboard, we do this on Wednesdays)

People usually have an attention span of 45 minutes or less before they start to feel bored or distracted in meetings. A way to keep them engaged in longer sessions is by implementing breaks. This will help people to move their bodies, rest, and regain their focus. Every 45 minutes, try: 

  • Icebreakers
  • Comfort breaks
  • Quick desk stretches 

2. Reduce multitasking

Multitasking and context switching makes it harder to concentrate on a single task. This is because your brain has to frequently shift its attention from one thing to another. Toggling from tab to tab can be counterproductive as it can take over 20 minutes to regain focus. 

To reduce multitasking, you should block time out in your calendar for focus time and encourage your team to do the same. Committing to working on one important task at a time helps you block out distractions and get things done faster. 

If you’re implementing focus time, you should notify other teams so they can be mindful about contacting you during those hours. They should know when to expect answers from you or your team.

3. Use a collaborative digital workspace 

You might keep switching between apps and tabs because you don't have all the information accessible in one central location. Using a digital collaborative platform like Switchboard can help you reduce the toggle tax.  For example, let’s say you usually need to create invoices in QuickBooks Online. 

To do so, you:

  • Have to look for the vendor’s code in a Google Sheet
  • Check with Salesforce data to guarantee that you’re charging the right amount
  • Add invoice numbers to your payment tracker in Asana. 

Since all of these tools are browser-based, you could bring all the apps into one of Switchboard’s persistent rooms. And, instead of wasting time jumping from tab to tab, you can perform all of those tasks on the same Switchboard screen. 

Using a collaborative virtual office platform also encourages asynchronous work, because you don’t need to be working next to someone to complete or update them on the status. They can just open the Switchboard room and gather all the information they need when it works best for them. Plus, if you’re already using Switchboard, you can use it as a Zoom alternative and host online meetings there with your team.

Switchboard room with multiple browser-based apps
Use Switchboard to work on a task and see all the browser-based tools you need on one screen. Source: Switchboard

4. Help team members prioritize tasks

Prioritization is also about knowing when to complete certain actions. For example, invite your team to think of the time of day they’re most productive. Ask them to organize their daily to-do list to complete tasks in that order. If someone is more productive after lunch, they can handle the more complex tasks in the afternoon.

You can also try to switch it up a bit and give people a variety for them to use different parts of the brain throughout the day. 

Another idea is to invite team members who are struggling with concentration to focus on one core objective per day. If they can achieve that, everything else is a bonus and it helps relieve pressure.

5. Use team building activities to improve team dynamics

If the lack of focus has to do with morale, try to improve team dynamics by setting strong shared values and fostering psychological safety.

Bringing your team together and getting them to trust each other isn’t an easy task, it’ll likely take time and effort to achieve, so be patient. Try hosting activities to get to know each other during team meetings such as: 

  • Getting one person to introduce another one on the team
  • Doing a quiz to guess each other’s pets' names 
  • Asking everyone to recommend something they tried during the last couple of weeks

Teams that trust each other and feel comfortable working together are more productive

6. Emphasize work-life balance and lead by example

Respecting boundaries, working hours, and vacation time can help you promote trust within your team and encourage personal well-being. Since resting is also productive, your team needs to feel they can enjoy their time away from work. This will allow them to perform better during working hours. 

But, if you’re emailing people after hours and ending meetings past the agreed time, people won’t feel comfortable living up to their boundaries, so you have to lead by example. Encourage asynchronous work, take time off, and send emails and set meetings during working hours.

7. Practice mindfulness at work

People’s minds wander around 36.4% of the day, which adds up to almost two working days a week. Mindfulness is a powerful mindset that invites you to be present in everything you do. Companies have adopted this practice to boost concentration because, when practicing mindfulness, mind wandering goes down 28% a day. 

This technique helps you: 

  • Set clear intentions for the day
  • Focus on single-tasking vs. multitasking
  • Reduce distractions (like smartphones, social media, family members, or pets)
  • Stay present during meetings
  • Reflect on previous achievements

This practice also comes with breathing techniques and meditations for you to incorporate mindfulness into your work and be grounded in what you are doing. Try implementing meditation sessions to practice mindfulness.

8. Create a dedicated room for coworking sessions

Coworking sessions are growing in popularity because they help you stay accountable for your tasks and make work more enjoyable. You can invite people to join and work in silence for 25 to 60-minute intervals and take five to 10-minute short breaks. 

These meet-ups are an affordable way to bring your team together and bond during breaks, while still getting work done. 

If you’re using Switchboard, you can create a room and invite participants to join. There, everyone can bring the files they’re working on to the room or simply use the tool to connect with others. Open the timer feature and work following the Pomodoro technique. If you’re working on the same file together, you can use Switchboard as a tool for document collaboration without sharing screens or delegating control. 

Screenshot of a coworking session hosted on Switchboard
Meet with colleagues on Switchboard and co-work using the Pomodoro technique to promote focus and accountability. Source: Switchboard

Let’s recap: Focus and concentration hacks for your team

You and your team might be struggling to focus during business hours due to distractions, interruptions, and long meetings. In a modern work environment filled with notifications and quick calls, it’s only natural that you may be feeling overwhelmed and busy.

Along with using multiple apps a day and toggling between tabs, you and your team might find it hard to concentrate. 

But, it’s possible to regain your focus at work despite the mentioned challenges. You should start by identifying why your team is lacking concentration. Then, you can audit and reduce your meetings, curb multitasking, train on how to prioritize tasks more effectively, and look for ways to improve team dynamics. 

Since toggle tax and context switching between tools are some of the biggest threats to concentration, you can look into getting a visual collaborative platform like Switchboard. 

Switchboard lets you open, view, and edit all the browser-based apps and files you need on the same screen. So, you can complete tasks without switching from tab to tab. You can also use the tool to host coworking sessions and mindful meditations or use it as a virtual office space. 

Focus on one screen at a time by bringing all your apps together.
Build project rooms on Switchboard to have all browser-based apps and files at hand while you work.
Sign up for free


[1] “The Anatomy of Work Global Index” (2023).

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Focus on one screen at a time by bringing all your apps together.

Build project rooms on Switchboard to have all browser-based apps and files at hand while you work.