A few tweaks may solve the issues, and they require Gnome dconf-editor that does not come with Gnome 3 installation by default. Also missing may be Gnome Tweak Tool. So after installing Gnome 3, the first thing to do should be to install these. The package name for dconf-editor is dconf-tools, so install via terminal with:
# sudo apt-get install dconf-tools gnome-tweak-tool
1. Enable Desktop in Shell
Open Gnome Tweak Tool (shows up in Applications as Tweak Tool, or from terminal as gnome-tweak-tool) and go to Desktop tab. Turn on “Have file manager handle desktop”. Also turn on at least one icon (Computer/ Home/ Network/ Trash) to be visible on desktop (just for checking).
Then go to Windows tab and select focus mode as “Mouse”.
2. Tweak Dconf-Editor registries
Gnome 3 stores registry settings in config files that can be modified using this dconf-editor. Open it (by the name of dconf Editor in Applications) and navigate to org.gnome.desktop.background. Enable “show-desktop-icons”.
Then go to org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences and disable “auto-raise”.
3. Restart Gnome shell
Log off in log back in.
Now you should have much better focus throughout the desktop, and one window will be active depending on where your mouse is. But with good focus on inactive windows, you will be able to read stuff from them, thus making it possible to multitask.
As an alternative, the above settings can also be done through command prompt, using ‘gsettings’ to directly modify the registry entries.