Like its album-mate "Empty Glass", "Keep on Working" was a leftover from Who Are You, a 1978 album by Townshend's band The Who. However, upon Townshend's decision to make a solo album, the song was resurrected.
Pete Townshend has since said that the song was created in an attempt to replicate Kinks' songwriter Ray Davies' style of writing. In 1982, Townshend said, "Ray's always been a big influence on me. I've never been able to write in the same way, though I've often tried. In fact, I'm terrible at it. I think 'Keep on Working' tries to be a Kinks song but it just doesn't work."
In 1980, "Keep on Working" was released as the final single from Empty Glass in the UK, following his success with "Let My Love Open the Door" and "Rough Boys". Backed with its fellow Empty Glass track "Jools and Jim", the song was a commercial flop, failing to chart at all. The single wasn't released in the US, where "A Little Is Enough" was issued instead.