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October 28, 2020

Working From Home is Improving Focus, Study Says

The work from home (WFH) trend has accelerated thanks to the pandemic. Results from a recent research study suggest that WFH may be a trend companies want to continue to embrace, even post-pandemic. This has huge implications for the broadband industry.

More than one-quarter (28%) of working hours are lost due to lost focus, according to a new work-from-home report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) commissioned by Dropbox.

The highest causes of lost focus were face-to-face interruptions from colleagues about work-related tasks (cited by 34%) and work-related email (29%). Nearly one fifth of survey respondents said they check email every few minutes, with seven-in-10 checking it hourly.

Other reasons cited for lack of focus included peripheral office distractions (ringing phones) and background chatter (23%), mind wandering (23%) and work-related meetings (21%).

“Focus is the engine of knowledge work,” says Michael Gold, The EIU managing editor, in a prepared statement.  “But increasingly people’s work lives are fragmented by distractions that increase stress, cause errors, and prevent people from doing their best work. So we set out to identify and quantify the leading causes of distractions and the implications for US knowledge workers and the data showed that the leading causes of distraction are associated with being in-the-office. While the costs to US companies in lost productivity are substantial, there is also huge upside to helping knowledge workers find their focus.”

Focus tends to be better when employees are working from home, The EIU found. Almost half of respondents said they have increased focus when working from home. Additionally, 42% reported spending more time on deeply focused work. Less than a third reported either no change or diminished focus.

Engagement levels have also held steady or improved since the shift to working from home, with a third of respondents saying they are more engaged than before and roughly the same number experiencing no change in engagement.

Eliminating office-based distractions is the second-highest reason for greater engagement for home workers, after relief from commuting, respondents said.

If the WFH trend continues, or even accelerates post-pandemic, the broadband industry will need to continue it’s COVID-19 response. That response has included adjusting broadband packages and speeds, particularly on the upstream to support more WFH applications.

Additionally, many providers have created WFH packages that offer more business and enterprise functionality, including VPNs and SD-WAN services that can be accessed from home. ETI looks forward to working with our clients to help them better understand these trends and develop th right products and services that address them.