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.

What are employers doing in response to COVID-19 in Washington State?

Many have issued remote work suggestions or guidelines. Many have restricted travel. Many have eliminated large meetings or gatherings of more than 10. Every company and industry is different, and not all employees can work remotely.

For workers who can remotely work:

  • Remote work for a period of time (some have done through March, some through end of next week and everywhere in between)
  • Limit meetings in-person
  • Reschedule or limit events or large gatherings

For workers who can’t work remotely:

  • Limit all-company meetings/ gatherings of 5+ people (some have indicated 5, 10, 20)
  • Janitorial service based gloves to be worn at all times
  • Requiring hand washing at the beginning of each shift
  • Taking hand washing breaks (or shifts)
  • Stagger start and stop times of shifts as to reduce amount of people commuting (via public transportation) at any given time
  • Prop restroom doors open slightly (when appropriate) to avoid touching handles
  • At restaurants, ask guests to wash hands before sitting down at the table
  • Increase paper towels in bathroom so people can use the paper towels to open door handles
  • Wipe down door handles, counters, credit card processing pads, areas that are commonly touched frequently
  • Post “please do not touch” signs on products (retail)
  • Wipe down products
  • Have employees use gloves when cleaning
  • Have employees sanitize their phones

What is your employer doing? Email us – let us know! We will update this listing.

BHT aims to be a resource to employers in Washington State. By sharing what others are doing, our hope is that companies will be able to identify ideas that might work in their own businesses.

Related articles:

SBA to Provide Disaster Loans for Coronavirus-Related Economic Disruptions

Coronavirus Resources from Business Health Trust Wellness Partners

Washington State’s Stay at Home Order and Protecting Your Essential Employees from COVID-19

Tips to Stay Focused and Efficient While Working from Home

COVID-19 Anticipated Economic Impacts in Seattle and Washington

What are employers doing in response to COVID-19 in Washington State?

Updated 5:11pm on 3/4/2020

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.

Why Should Employers Care About Virtual Care?

A recent U.S. study found that the average doctor visit took 121 minutes, including 37 minutes of travel time, 64 minutes of waiting time (both in waiting rooms and in exam rooms waiting for a practitioner) and just 20 minutes of face time with the doctor. These wait times take time away from work and life. These wait times cause employees to delay seeing a doctor and can cause spread of illness … resulting in more people taking time away from work.

Employers have a vested interest in virtual care and employee health and productivity. Virtual care can reduce indirect costs associated with employees missing work for doctor visits, showing up at work sick, or being off work with a chronic illness.

“Why do I care about virtual care?” Jane Billbe, SVP of Operations of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce puts it best: “One — I care deeply about my employees. Two — they have important jobs; I need them here at work. Three — it is more convenient for my employees and more cost-effective for both my employees and me as the employer.”

Virtual care is among the diverse resources offered through Business Health Trust, the employee benefits program available to Seattle Chamber member companies. To learn more, see the Wellness Resources available through Business Health Trust, or contact (425) 201-1972 quote@businesshealthtrust.com to get a quote today.

Save More with Business Health Trust

Event: Restaurant After Hours 2020 on Feb. 25

The annual Restaurant After Hours is one of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s most popular and most delicious events, held at the Seattle Aquarium. It’s a can’t-miss for making business connections and getting your fill of the best food in the city.

  • Event: Restaurant After Hours
  • Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2020
  • Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Location: Seattle Aquarium
  • Address: 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA, 98101 (Get Directions)
  • Cost: $25 pre-paid ($35 as of 2/18) for members; $25 pre-paid ($35 as of 2/18) for nonmembers
  • Questions: Contact Hannah Holman at 206-389-7216

What food and drink will be featured this year?
See the Restaurant After Hours event page for an updated list of food and drink vendors.

What does my ticket include?
Your $25 ticket includes entry to the event; samples from every food and drink vendor; and access to the tidepools, jellyfish and octopus displays at the Aquarium.

How do I get there and where do I park?
The Aquarium is on the Seattle waterfront at 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA, 98101. There is parking available nearby, including two garages detailed at this link.

Prefer not to park? You can also take transit. Use Metro’s trip planner to plan your route.

How should I dress?
This event is casual – many people come to the event straight from work.

Is there alcohol?
Yes, there will be exhibitors offering spirits samples, and beer and wine will be available for purchase at the bar. This event is 21+.

The Seattle Chamber is the plan sponsor of Business Health Trust.

5 Trendy Health Foods to Try Now

From our wellness partners at VSP Vision Care Inc.

Some food trends stick, some are just a flash in the pan. Either way, it can be fun and interesting to see what all the fuss is about. We asked you which health foods you would try. Now, we break each one down — from least popular to most popular — and show you why these foods made the list. Some may be familiar, others a little shocking. Either way, these health foods are sure to pique your curiosity … and possibly your hunger.

Crickets

Clearly the least popular choice among health foods, these nighttime noisemakers may soon be chirping their way to your dinner plates! Eating bugs is common in many parts of the world, including Asia and Latin America, but it wasn’t until recently that it started gaining momentum in Western countries.

Benefits: Crickets are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and low in fat. Another reason for the rise of crickets and other edible bugs is that farming them could greatly affect the environment. Crickets emit 100 times fewer greenhouse gases than cattle, and raising them requires significantly less water and less feed.

Uses: Some believe crickets in flour form have the most potential and could be incorporated into an assortment of foods. There are also a variety of products made from crickets, including cricket granola bars, cricket chips, cricket cookies, and even cricket dog treats.

Fermented Foods

A quick look at how vegetable fermentation works: vegetables are soaked in salt water or preferably their own juice. This allows for bacteria to grow and eat the vegetable’s sugars. As a result, they produce lactic acid, which has a sour, tart taste. Chefs like fermentation because it creates new dimensions to food, bringing out flavors and textures previously unattainable.

Benefits: The live bacteria or probiotics found in fermented foods are rich in enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients and help the digestive system run more smoothly. Eating fermented foods is similar to having an oil change for your stomach. Kimchi, a special kind of pickled cabbage that’s a staple in Korea cuisine, is packed with antioxidants, boosts your immunity, and helps lower cholesterol. Many Koreans credit kimchi for their long lives and statistically, Koreans boast one of the lowest cancer rates in the world. No wonder why this has joined the list of top health foods!

Uses: Popular examples include kraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and pickled vegetables. Fermented fruits and vegetables can be used as side dishes, in salads, and in smoothies.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is a key element in the popular Paleo diet, which is based on the food humans’ ancient ancestors might likely have eaten. Dietitians who specialize in the Paleo diet assert that bone broth is different from stock because its made with roasted animal bones and simmered for a long time – anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. This long process breaks the bones down, releases nutrients and minerals, and produces gelatin from collagen-rich joints.

Benefits: The list of bone broth’s restorative properties runs long, but there are few scientific studies of the specific properties of bone broth. No studies have researched the broth specifically, though dozens support the benefits of its ingredients. The use of cartilage, gelatin, and other components found in homemade bone broth have been linked to prevent and sometimes even reverse osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, digestive distress, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer. Though bone broth soups may be resurfacing the West, they have been and remain a staple in many Asian cultures, where they are considered medicinal and prescribed in Chinese medicine.

Uses: You can drink bone broth plain or use it to make soup, stew, or gravy. It can also be used to sauté or roast vegetables. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to make and can be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Matcha Green Tea

Americans love their coffee. According to the National Coffee Association, 59 percent drink a cup of it every day! But has coffee met its match-a? Literally meaning “powdered tea”, matcha is made from tea leaves getting finely powdered, mixed with hot water, and whisked with a bamboo brush. Matcha was the “it” beverage at New York Fashion Week, and has many dedicated coffee lovers ditching their brew for this ancient cup o’ tea.

Benefits: Tea’s perceived health benefits are some of the reasons for its rise in fame among health foods. In terms of nutritional content, one cup of matcha is equal to 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea. It also has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. Antioxidants have been tied to protection against heart disease and cancer, as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and anti-aging. Compared to the jittery caffeine buzz you can get from coffee, matcha creates an “alert calm,” thanks to L-theanine. However, matcha quality is key – high-quality matcha is expensive, and a low price tag could be a red flag for a poor quality and less nutrient-rich product.

Uses: In addition to drinking matcha warm or cold, there is no shortage of creative uses for the powder: it can be whipped into lattes, sprinkled atop savory dishes, and mixed into an assortment of sweets, ranging from macaroons to muffins.

Avocados

Benefits: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which can lower bad cholesterol. They’re also packed with potassium, containing nearly two times as much potassium as a banana. Avocados are not only high in antioxidants themselves, but also help increase antioxidant absorption from other foods. Not to shabby for the most popular health food on our list.

Uses: Chefs love avocados for their taste, which is creamy enough to balance out acidity or spiciness but mild enough not to overpower other ingredients. Some of its countless uses include adding it to sandwiches and salads, eating it with plain toast, or making it into guacamole.

While some of these health foods may be just a trend, some others are here to stay. Give your body some love and add one of these foods to your diet today and see how you feel. You may be surprised at the results!

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.