How to Keep Focused During Tense Political Times

As the 2020 November election came and went, news outlets and social media hosted heated debates about the integrity of the election and what that meant for American democracy. For some, it seemed like the end of democracy while others wondered if it was necessary to ask such questions, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. In the midst of pandemic, companies were forced onto a virtual platform (i.e. Zoom or Google Meet) which also had the unintended consequence of keeping them connected to the Internet and thus to the countless sites discussing the election. Even after the election results were finalized, and after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, there was still much debate about the election’s integrity. 

Many companies just wanted to help their clients, not engage with this intense political discourse, yet with their employees constantly connected to the web, how were they supposed to avoid it? How does a company keep focused during such tense political times?

In a 2017 article by the Harvard Business Review titled, “How to Keep Your Team Focused and Productive During Uncertain Times,” Amy Gallo writes that one way in which a business can keep its teams focused and productive is by employers learning to understand their employees and making sure that the employees know that their boss/manager hears and understands them.

“If you sense your employees are concerned about the future of the country, your organization, or their jobs, don’t carry on with business as usual… Even if your intention is to keep people focused, bottling your emotions, or expecting employees to do the same, can be dangerous,”  Gallo says.

An employees’ ability to be productive in their work is, in my opinion, conditional on how they are feeling, whether mentally or physically. If businesses want to keep their employees focused on the tasks at hand, despite the political tension, then they need to be intentional about making sure that the work environment doesn’t feed into the political turmoil. While the inauguration is over and people seem to have gone back to a semblance of normalcy despite COVID, news outlets and social media are still rife with political discourse that can be hard to turn from.

One way for employees to remain focused and productive and not get bogged down by the political discourse is actually for employers to give employees a say in how they arrange their schedule. This seemingly small thing can do wonders because it gives employees a sense of autonomy despite working within a larger organization. Yes, companies should make sure that the employees know that their expectations haven’t changed. But being willing to allow employees to change their schedule if they see fit can give employees the motivation they need to work despite living in political turmoil.

Allowing for greater flexibility in terms of scheduling can give employees a sense that their employer does care about them.  Also, in another article by the Harvard Business Review titled “How to Motivate Your Team During Crunch Time” Rebecca Knight asks several important questions, such as “[W]hat can you do to rally the troops when the team’s workload is particularly heavy? How do you talk about the project or time period so that people don’t feel daunted? And, how do you keep an eye on stress levels while still motivating people to get through the crunch?” (Knight).

Keeping focus during tense political times isn’t easy, but it can be done. As mentioned earlier, an employees’ mental health is crucial because if the employee, whether due to increasing stress or the workload, isn’t at their best, that will affect the productivity of the company. An employer’s ability to “read the room” and notice such things like employees’ seeming lack of drive will determine how the productivity of a company continues going forward.

Employers seeking to understand their employees, in the midst of tense political times or otherwise, is necessary for every business. This is compounded by the fact that many companies’ employees are now working virtually, making interaction between a company and its employees all the more needed. Because of the constant access to social media and news outlets at our fingertips, it’s easy for employees and companies to get news about whatever is happening politically at the moment, and begin losing productivity because they’re focused on the political discourse.

If companies want to keep their businesses focused during tense political times, communication and understanding their employees is important.


Gallo, Amy. “How to Keep Your Team Focused and Productive During Uncertain Times.” Harvard Business Review, Accessed 17 March 2021.

Knight, Rebecca. “How to Motivate Your Team During Crunch Time.” Harvard Business Review, Accessed 17 March 2021.


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