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BACK TO THE OFFICE: Why we’re struggling to concentrate – and tips to improve focus

During the pandemic working from home presented its own challenges when it came to distractions and troubles with maintaining concentration. Now, as Covid-19 restrictions have lifted, many businesses have returned to the hustle and bustle of in-office life.

Though many of us have enjoyed being reunited with our colleagues and favourite commuter coffee shops, transitioning from working at home to the office can be a big cultural shock. With this in mind, Lenstore has partnered with Psychotherapist Sarah Lee and counsellor Hillary Sims to provide tips on how to avoid distractions and maintain focus when working in an office environment.

Why we are struggling to concentrate as we return to the office 
A change in routine can feel uncomfortable for a lot of people, so it can be expected that people will need to readjust to returning to the office even if it was routine before. If you’re used to working at your kitchen table in relative quiet, returning to an open plan office with phones ringing and hearing lots of conversations at once can feel overwhelming.

With many people still working remotely and hybrid working becoming increasingly more popular we may have to rethink how we structure our workdays, perhaps with more complex work done at home where quiet is more likely. I would expect people to go through a period of feeling more distracted and less able to concentrate until they get used to being back in the office. Some people will always find working with others more challenging and might find noise-canceling headphones a better option.

7 tips to improve focus while returning to the office 

Tie your work to your energy levels: If you’re more awake in the morning, focus on difficult or unwanted tasks when your energy levels are high and leave easier or shorter tasks till after lunch when your energy is waning.

Consider other aspects of your life outside of work: You’re unlikely to feel focussed on work if other areas of your life feel out of control. If you don’t know what to do about these issues, consider seeking professional help. Therapy isn’t just for emergencies, it can help with better coping strategies and sorting through emotions too.

Make sure you take breaks: Make sure you take breaks and go outside even if it’s for 5 minutes. Take your full lunch break if possible and make this a priority. Taking breaks allows us to rest and recover.


Include exercise in your daily routine: Exercise has many different benefits and is particularly helpful for depression, anxiety and ADHD.


Don’t drop everything if someone asks for help: If it’s not critical, let them know that you’re not free right now but you have time this afternoon for example. That way you can concentrate on what you’re doing without needing to refocus.


Set goals: Writing down exactly what you want to achieve each day can be a constructive way to keep on track and hold yourself accountable.


Don’t be too hard on yourself: Though being productive throughout the working day is crucial, it is important to remember it is ok to talk to your co-workers. Part of being at work is being social, but it is being aware of how much time you spending being distracted.