Making Informed Decisions

Tips to Stay Focused and Efficient While Working from Home

In the gig economy, working from home is already the norm for many Americans. But for workers more accustomed to a scheduled 9-5 office job, it can be a challenge to find work-life balance from a home office.

Whether you’re working on a laptop or a home computer, it’s important to create a space that puts you into work mode. It may be obvious that means turning off the TV and finding activities in advance for your kids, but your home likely offers a wealth of distractions you haven’t even thought of.

If you’re among the many Washington residents — and soon possibly the entire nation — in search of normalcy from your new home office, we’ve put together a few resources to help you remain focused and efficient when you’re on the clock.

Start with a Clean House

With both spring and potentially COVID-19 in the air, you’ll want to prioritize your annual spring clean if you haven’t already.

To properly clean and disinfect surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work, or you can make a bleach solution with 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water, or an alcohol solution of at least 70 percent alcohol.

Once your household is spic and span, try to keep it that way so cleaning doesn’t turn into a distraction during work hours. In the article 5 spring-cleaning tips for a healthier home, Kaiser Permanente recommends you set a schedule for upkeep so you can limit your tidying to a few minutes a day.

Get Up, Get Ready and Go

It may be tempting to throw on some sweats and grab a cup of coffee before plopping in front of your computer, but maintaining your normal morning routine also triggers a working mindset that can help improve productivity.

That means going to bed and waking up at a reasonable hour, and dressing appropriately for the workday, especially if there’s the potential for videoconferencing.

Be sure to also prepare any snacks or meals in advance so you’re not distracted by your growling stomach throughout the day!

Take a Break

If you’re the kind of person who has a hard time stepping away from your computer, find balance by setting a schedule that includes regular breaks from your desk and especially your screen.

Your eyes will thank you for taking a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes, also known as the “20-20-20” rule, as described in the VSP Vision Care Inc. article on Computer Vision Syndrome. And if you need help staying on track, of course there’s an app for that: Eye Care 20 20 20.

And when your lunch break rolls around, resist the temptation to continue working and be sure to take a break, maybe even go for a walk if that is an option. Maintaining your health is a priority during these uncertain times, and giving your brain and your body breaks is an important part of your overall health.

Commute Time Now Means You Time

Remember traffic? Now that you have the time back that you used to spend commuting, consider sharing these additional precious moments with your loved ones.

With schools closed for the foreseeable future, this means extra time with your kids while you’re not on the clock to help better manage this new version of work-life balance.

And for loved ones who aren’t in your household, be sure to pick up the phone and check in regularly on them. Premera Blue Cross reminds us that social distancing doesn’t mean mentally isolating, and recommends live video or video chat conversations to keep in touch with friends and family.

COVID-19 Anticipated Economic Impacts in Seattle and Washington

Business Health Trust (sponsored by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce) is Washington’s source for employee benefits, but we offer more than just insurance. Our core value is to be a resource to employers in Washington State to our 850+ employers in Washington State.

As part of our dedication to being a resource to employers, we partnered with Community Attributes to provide information that can aid business leaders in decision making as well as to highlight the needs of employers arising from the current COVID-19 pandemic in Washington State.

Download the analysis report here

March “Healthy Living” E-News Focuses on Coronavirus Resources

Usually during this time of year, Healthy Living with Business Health Trust turns its focus toward heading outdoors and fighting spring allergies. But with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continuing to impact us locally and globally, the March edition on Coronavirus Resources: Flyers, Links, Tips and More instead highlights tips to keep you safe and healthy, both at home and at the workplace.

Resources range from helpful flyers that encourage handwashing and other healthy behaviors, to links to our wellness partner including Premera Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente, as well as information on how to access their virtual care resources.

Read more, sign up and and see past editions on our Healthy Living archive.

Event: Elevate NW Conference on April 30, 2020

Join the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for the third annual Elevate NW, a conference dedicated to the growth and success of small businesses in the Seattle metro region. From solopreneurs to companies that employ tens of thousands of people, we all play a role in building relationships that create an environment where small businesses can continue to flourish and innovate.

  • Event: Elevate NW Conference 2020
  • Date: Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Time: 1 – 6 p.m.
  • Location: Fisher Pavilion
  • Address: 305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA, 98109
  • Cost: $99 pre-paid ($120 as of 4/24) for members; $120 pre-paid ($140 as of 4/24) for non-members
  • Questions: Contact Hannah Holman at 206-389-7216

This year, the Elevate NW will focus on engaged, peer-to-peer learning. Get prepared to connect with your fellow guests through structured conversations and interactive games, plus sign-up for coaching sessions with small business experts.

Elevate NW Conference 2020 will feature:

  • Conversations with local business and community leaders, who will share their success stories and relevant growth experience
  • Collaborative activities aimed to stimulate discussion and spark creative problem-solving
  • One-on-one coaching sessions will take place throughout the event
  • Keynote, Doug Baldwin, on why being engaged in your community is good for business

For more information, see the agenda on the Elevate NW event page.

Coronavirus Resources from Business Health Trust Wellness Partners

Updated on March 10, 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak is evolving on a daily basis, and Business Health Trust wants to help you keep your workplace and your family healthy with updated resources from our wellness partners and beyond.

Medical professionals are advising people to take the same precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of cold and flu to also help prevent coronavirus. We’ve compiled those tips in the following flyers that can be posted at your workplace or other gathering space:

Further tips are available from wellness partner Wellspring EAP:

For day-to-day updates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a dedicated Coronavirus Disease 2019 page that includes the latest travel guidelines and other time-sensitive information. Statewide updates are available daily on the Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus page.

Business Health Trust partner Premera Blue Cross also offers resources on a dedicated coronavirus page that is being updated as the situation continues to evolve. For Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical coverage through Premera, please take note of the following important resources should you become ill or are just looking for some peace of mind:

  • Teladoc — Talk to a doctor by phone or video anytime, day or night. Be sure to sign up today so you can get care immediately when you need it. Teladoc visits are available at $0 copay through most Business Health Trust plans.
  • Talkspace — If you need somebody to talk to about your fears of coronavirus or other issues, Business Health Trust members enrolled in Premera also have access to on-demand professional therapy through Talkspace. The in-network behavioral telehealth provider gives you access to live video appointments and text messaging with a licensed clinician — anytime, anywhere.
  • Urgent Care or ER? — Not sure which resource is best for you? Check out our article “Need care? Know where to go — and what it will cost” with details to help you decide when to use the 24-hour Nurseline, Teladoc, Urgent Care or the Emergency Room.

For Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical through Kaiser Permanente, there is a dedicated 2019 Novel Coronavirus webpage with tips and resources, including information on the many ways to get care, including:

  • Online visit — Receive a treatment plan and, if needed, a prescription — without a trip to your doctor’s office. Register today to access online visits when you need them most.
  • CareClinic — Kaiser Permanente partners with 15 Bartell Drugs locations in the Puget Sound area to offer walk-in CareClinics staffed with Kaiser Permanente board-certified physician assistants and nurse practitioners who treat minor injuries and illnesses. View CareClinic locations.

These additional tips from Kaiser Permanente on how to “Supercharge your immune system” are also a great resource to help make healthy lifestyle choices that support your immune system year-round.

Business Health Trust Members Have Access to Preventive Care — at No Cost!

When Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical through Premera Blue Cross receive routine preventive care, your health plan pays for the services — you don’t!

By getting preventive care you:

  • Help avoid serious health problems — and additional healthcare costs — before they start
  • Stay healthy for the people at home and at work who count on you

Preventive services may include screenings, vaccinations and medications. You can get the full preventive care list and guide to using your benefits at Premera.Com/WA/StayHealthy.

Tip: During your preventive care visit, if your doctor recommends other screenings or tests that are not considered preventive, you may have out-of-pocket costs.

Smiling senior man in medical clinic.

What You Should Expect During a Visit to the Doctor’s Office

From our wellness partners at Washington Health Alliance.

You should expect certain things to happen every time you go to the doctor. If you can check off the items on this list, you are having a good experience. Having a good experience at the doctor’s office helps you stay on top of any problems and can improve your health.

  • I was able to schedule an appointment as soon as I thought I needed it.
  • My doctor listened to my questions and gave me helpful answers I was able to understand.
  • I felt respected by my doctor and the entire staff (or care team).
  • My doctor knew my medical history.
  • I had enough time to ask the questions I needed to.

You can also visit the Community Checkup to compare scores for patient experience at providers in Washington state.

Eyeglasses in front of eye test.

Planning Your Eye Doctor Visit

From our wellness partners at VSP Vision Care Inc.

An annual eye exam is a great step in taking care of not only your eyes but your overall health. Eye exams can detect signs of serious conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Visiting the eye doctor doesn’t have to feel intimidating, even if you haven’t been there in a while. Knowing how to prepare for the visit and thinking ahead is an important part of the eye exam process. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next visit.

What to Know About Your Vision Benefits:
  • For personalized information about your benefits, create an account or log in to your vsp.com account. You’ll see your vision plan and coverage and easily view benefits for all your covered dependents from your desktop, mobile or tablet. Click here to learn how to create an account.
  • Once you’re logged in, you’ll also be able to find a VSP network doctor that accepts your vision plan and view how you can save with Exclusive Member Extras.
What to Think About Before Your Eye Exam:
  • Have I noticed any eye problems such as blurry vision, flashes of light, poor night vision, or double vision?
  • Do I have trouble judging distances or distinguishing between reds and greens?
  • Is my vision impacting me from doing certain activities?
  • How well am I taking care of my glasses or contacts? Do I take my contacts out each night and rinse them thoroughly?
  • Have I had any health issues, injuries, operations, or sicknesses lately that my eye doctor should know about?
  • Does my family have a history of eye problems such as glaucoma or cataracts?
What to Bring to Your Eye Exam:
  • Your current glasses, sunglasses, and contacts.
  • A list of current medications—and not just prescription medications. Your eye doctor can look at the list and determine if your medications could be affecting your vision.
  • The name and address of your primary care doctor.
  • If your appointment includes having your pupils dilated—and most yearly eye exams do—bring a friend or family member to drive you home. Many people can’t see well enough to drive safely after having their eyes dilated.
  • Your vision insurance information.
  • A list of the questions you want to ask your doctor, so you don’t forget them.
What to Ask Your Eye Doctor:
  • Has anything about my eyes changed since my last visit that I should know about?
  • What are my options for improving my vision?
  • Am I a candidate for laser vision correction?
  • What are the advantages of wearing both contact lenses and glasses?
  • How many hours per day can I wear contacts?
  • Should I look out for anything in particular when it comes to my eyes and overall health?
  • How can I protect my vision while staying active?
  • Should I be doing anything differently to care better for my eyes?
  • Can I schedule my next eye exam?
When to Follow Up with Your Eye Doctor:
  • If you receive contacts or glasses for the first time, plan to follow up with your eye doctor after about two weeks so you can report back on how well they are working.
  • If your eye doctor adjusts your prescription and your new glasses or contacts aren’t working out, let your eye doctor know immediately.

With a little bit of preparation, your eye exam should be a simple and straightforward process. Take a few moments beforehand to get ready, and your eyes will thank you.

If you haven’t already scheduled your next eye exam, you can do it now.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

Tacoma Waterfront with Mount Rainier in background.

Event: Horizons Economic Forecast 2020 on Jan. 15

Join the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber for this breakfast event with the 2020 annual forecast of the area’s economic well-being. These insights on the local, regional and national aspects of the economy make this an invaluable event for local businesses who want assistance in determining their business outlook.

  • Event: Horizons Economic Forecast 2020
  • Date: Wednesday, January 15, 2020
  • Time: 7 – 9 a.m.
  • Location: Greater Tacoma Convention Center
  • Address: 1500 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402
  • Cost: $100 pre-paid ($110 walk-in) for members; $120 pre-paid ($140 walk-in) for non-members; $1,000 corporate table sponsor; $1,200 premier table sponsor
  • Questions: Contact Alison Bryan

The Tacoma Chamber is an association partner of the Business Health Trust.

Tips for “Healthy Living” Through the Holidays and Beyond!

The holidays offer the ideal time to reflect on the past year, while also setting expectations for your family’s annual holidays traditions.

If it’s time for a change, the December edition of Healthy Living with Business Health Trust offers tips to help you introduce new holiday traditions as families evolve. We even offer a new dessert tradition for a more naturally sweetened Dark Chocolate and Ginger Biscotti!

Speaking of food and nutrition, we also take a look at the top health food trends of 2019, and help you separate hype from fact.

To read more, take a look at the December Healthy Living with Business Health Trust, or subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter today!