Employer Issues

Seven Tips on Working from Home

BBG has a long history of many of its employees working from home. Recently, the rest of the team has joined in this practice. As a result, some of the newbie home workers needed tips from our more veteran home workers!

This blog post is a compilation of advice from the BBG workers who have been working from home for years. I was actually surprised by some of these suggestions but as I’ve transitioned myself into this world of remote work, I’m appreciating and embracing the tips. We hope you find these useful as we all do our part to flatten the curve of this COVID-19 pandemic!

BBG’s Best Tips on Working from Home

#1 Create a Healthy Workspace at Home

This is the number one suggestion when working from home. If possible, it’s advisable that your home workspace be separate from other spaces that you typically use for relaxing. Additionally, you want it to be one that is free of distractions so that you can stay on task. Ideally, a room created as an office will provide this. However, if that’s not possible consider creating a separate space in a corner of a room.

A particular co-worker said that keeping your personal phone away from your workspace will aid in limiting distractions. While this may not be possible if you need to make work calls from your cellphone, we do advise turning off notifications from social media, email and other phone apps that may be a distraction.

Obviously, you’ll want your home workspace to be comfortable and well-lit so here are a few resources we’ve found.

A BBG colleague who has been doing this for years, recommended this large electric foot warmer heated mat if your space is cold and/or you have the tendency to be cold. This is a nice way to experience mild radiating heat.

Working in a well-lit area, especially one with natural light is helpful for mood. When natural light is not possible, having lights that are easy on the eyes and can be adjusted for brightness is useful. Many of us use this lamp we found on Amazon.

#2 Dress for Work

Working in pajamas and bathrobes is oh so tempting!! I may or may not be guilty of doing this myself.  😉

However, our colleagues with veteran experience of working from home recommend starting the morning out by getting dressed just as you would if you were going into the office. One colleague said, “yes it’s nice to be comfortable but it may also affect your work.”

If your normal office attire is highly professional such as suits and ties, you probably would want to relax it to a more business casual attire at home.

Maybe you can even relax from business casual to something a bit more comfortable but the point is to get out of those PJs, shower and get dressed!

#3 Keep Communicating with Colleagues

It’s easy to feel isolated from your co-workers while working at home. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with them when you work remotely. One colleague said, “sometimes you get the feeling ‘they already know what I am doing.’ But, in fact, they just need to hear from you to confirm that.”

At BBG many of us have started using Microsoft teams as a way to stay in touch.

There is no water cooler talk while working remotely so it’s important to create a space for open communication. Another option, which BBG uses for client interaction, is Zoom video conferencing. Amazingly they are offering expanded support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

#4 Take Breaks & Stock up on Healthy Snacks

Long periods of sitting still and working at a desk can produce lethargic feelings. Take appropriate breaks to get up to stretch and move.

A couple of colleagues mentioned that they are snacking more while working from home because it’s available. A colleague who has been doing this for some time gave a great suggestion of stocking up on healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables. Fuel your brain rather than draining it!

Another colleague suggested drinking more water. It’s easy to sit at a desk and not be thirsty so proactively drinking water is a good habit to build.

#5 Boundaries

Well, this one could overlap with the suggestion to not work in your PJs but BBG’s main concern here is that our remote workers actually work too much. Dedicated workers who have home offices need to practice boundaries and know when to turn off work for the day. It’s advisable to still keep normal working hours when working at home. Actually, it becomes even more important because the separation from home and office is a short walk.

One colleague stressed this point by saying, “DON’T think that just because you are home you need to work 24/7.”

Healthy boundaries between work and home life become even more important working remotely so setting up strick hours from the start is the way to build this habit.

#6 Have a Good Co-Worker

This my favorite tip and unfortunately one that I cannot embrace in my apartment, but…how precious is that face?!

The BBG colleague who made this suggestion was kind enough to supply a picture of his co-worker.

Um. if I had this face looking up at me during the day, I would be greatly comforted.

BBG wrote a post in the past about how dogs can play a role in healthcare but how about them playing a role in creating a healthy office environment?

I’m certain that pets all across the world are happy that their masters are now working from home. After all, they are pack animals and thrive when they are with people of other pets. Additionally, humans thrive in a community so enjoy this time of sharing offices.

We would love to see pictures of your office companions so please share them with us!!

#7 Practice Safety with Your Devices

Here is a great article from the Tampa Day Times about how to keep your devices safe. The number of people now working from home has grown exponentially which means we all may be vulnerable to attackers who want to take advantage of this. As this article outlines here are some ways to stay safe:

  • Update your software
  • Check your router password
  • Use strong passwords
  • Beware of Coronavirus-themed phishing emails

Again, check out this article to read more about this.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, we are discovering this takes some self-discipline. The key to building healthy habits is to start implementing them form the beginning. Stay in touch and encourage one another; we are all in this together!

Here are some other great articles we’ve read around the web on this topic:

Lastly, if BBG can further assist you with more granular details on the following, please reach out:

  • Communication software (phones, extensions, instant messaging)
  • Habits (how we keep in touch deliberately)
  • How our “work from home colleagues” set up their lives to remain engaged
  • How to be attentive to separating work/home-worlds and be able both to “plug-in” and “un-plug”
  • We can share limitations and potential pitfalls that we work to eliminate.
  • How we train our dogs not to bark while we are on the phone…just kidding on that one 😉

 

Medicare and Employer-based Coverage

BBG - Medicare and Employer-based Coverages

When you have both Medicare and employer-based coverage, Medicare will either pay primary or secondary for your medical costs. When Medicare is primary insurance, Medicare pays for your medical bills firstWhen Medicare is the secondary insurance, Medicare pays after the employer-based coverage pays . Usually, secondary insurance pays some or all of the costs left after your primary insurance has paid (for example, deductibles and copays).

This month’s Medicare Minute (courtesy of the Medicare Rights Center) addresses these and other questions:

How does Medicare work with job-based insurance?

What are the differences between primary and secondary insurance?

How does Medicare work with retiree insurance and COBRA coverage?

To read or download it, click here — Medicare and Employer-based Coverage.

BBG Numbers - SharedFunding

Cost of Employer-Provided Health Coverage Passes $20,000 a Year

An ‘Annual poll of employers by Kaiser Family Foundation finds premiums rose 5% for family plans; ‘It’s the cost of buying an economy car.’

Let us show you how we help our employees operate at substantially below this scary number through SharedFunding.

Click here for The Wall Street Journal article for more insights into the survey results.

Are Groupons For Healthcare Good or Bad? Yes

Groupons have been in the medical news lately (for example “Groupons For Medical Treatment? Welcome To Today’s U.S. Health Care” and “Groupons for medical care are helping patients save money“) with stories of deeply discounted rates for some medical tests in several local markets across the country.

Here’s the net of the good and bad from a smattering of the news reports.

Good because the lower rates may make the tests affordable for some who need them and who may otherwise pass because they simply can’t afford.  In other words, if you have to have a test and don’t have coverage or if you have coverage but your plan’s deductible coupled with your network’s contracted rate for the test are out of reach, the Groupon rate may make it affordable.

Bad because the discounted rates sometimes prompt people to undergo testing unnecessarily and often without their doctor’s input or supervision.  In some respects, it could be a cousin to a practice known as “predatory testing” (offering free initial tests designed to encourage more not so free tests and/or costly treatments…….when they may not be necessary or advisable in the first place.)

And, bad because the quality is sometimes not up to par leading to a retest which usually ends up being performed somewhere else at an additional cost.  Essentially, patients end up having to pay multiple times to have the test done right.

According to one of the reports “Groupon dictates the price for its deals based on the competition in the area — and then takes a substantial cut”…

‘They take about half. It’s kind of brutal. It’s a tough place to market,’ said a provider that signed on with Groupon to market for his testing facility.”

Makes me think we could do just as well or even better fending for ourselves with a qualified provider of our choosing without Groupon as the middleman.  If a test is needed, first talk to your doc and ask for a list of multiple qualified providers.  And/or, check your insurance carrier’s online provider network directory for participating providers. Most insurance carriers now have online cost comparison tools that you can access by logging into your account. They are simple to use and allow you to shop for where you receive your healthcare. Once you have your lists of providers, check for quality ratings and pricing information.

After you do a little homework, select a few qualified providers.  Ask each of the providers for their best rates; and, what kind of break they’ll give you for pre-payment or paying in cash.

 

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