Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

Working from home may seem like a weird blend. After all, you are combining two very different aspects of your life that usually stay separate: your work attitude and your home attitude. In the past, most people thought separating these two attitudes would make people more productive and efficient. However, this notion doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Today, the number of remote employees is higher than it’s ever been because of COVID-19. When online learning company Chegg started working remotely in March, Nathan Schultz, a senior executive, predicted the company’s productivity would drop 15 to 20 percent. And yet projects began to be completed faster. Employees volunteered to take on new tasks. The whole attitude of working from home changed and so did the company as a result.

Fran Katsoudas, Cisco’s Chief People Officer also has noted an increase in productivity. At Eventbrite, the engineering team is thriving. So how did these companies manage to galvanize their employees?

They used these four principles.

  1. Keep a set schedule — It is so important to become relaxed when working from home. After all, why work in an uncomfortable desk when you can lounge on your bed? Avoid this trap! Without the structure of going to work, many people start to do things randomly. This leads to a lack of focus, which makes you get less stuff done. Use an online calendar, a planner, or the reminder app on your phone to narrow in on your daily goals. You will start to see results.
  2. Work in an office or a designated area — As tempting as it may be to work on the couch, multi-tasking has been proven to lessen your output. By working in a designated area, your brain is able to brainstorm more easily and focus. Many companies use Zoom or other video-conferencing platforms to communicate now. When your coworkers see you working in a clean, more professional environment, it subconsciously lets them know you haven’t abandoned your duties.
  3. Limit distractions — Everything can become a distraction if not accounted for. That being said, it’s super hard to focus and eliminate potential disturbances. Try setting some boundaries for your work area. For example, can you put a do not disturb sign on your door? Can you turn your phone on airplane mode? Can you find a silent area? Or conversely, can you drown out any noise with enhancing music? These are all questions to ask yourself when trying to be productive.
  4. Answer the phone — Although this principle may seem counterintuitive to the previous one, it is just as important. When you are away from your team, misunderstandings happen frequently. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves. Some love to craft direct emails. Some would rather have a more free-flowing conversation on Zoom. If you are unsure of instructions, it is usually best to call a colleague. That way, you can know exactly what needs to be done without that negative ambiguity.

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More Thrive Global on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis