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How to spruce up your home “office”

With many British Columbians still working remotely, there’s never been a better time to freshen up your workspace. Are you tired of using the kitchen table as a desk? Sick of that bar stool you use as an office chair? Give your space a makeover to make it comfortable, stylish and ergonomic, and boost productivity. Here are some expert tips to get you started.

Delineate your workspace

First off, it’s important to separate your work life from your home life. Why? For two key reasons: without any physical boundaries, it can be very easy for work to creep into personal time and without the separation of space it’s more challenging to switch between personal and work mode. This often translates into longer hours or work stressors sneaking into other parts of our lives. For some inspiration on creating separation with even the smallest of spaces, check out these creative closet offices.

If you have the yard space, you could even consider the latest trend: building a backyard office shed! Get inspired by these unique concepts. Remember, if you’re planning renovations as part of your office update, it’s important to tell your insurer about the work being done. Depending on the scope of the renovations, you may need to purchase a layer of construction coverage. Without that extra coverage, your insurer might deny claims if something were to happen during the renovations.

Interior Of Home Office With Computer At Table

De-clutter & get organized

Did you know that a cluttered workspace can negatively affect our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus and even our sleep? The research makes a pretty good case for keeping our desk and surrounding space tidy. Another obvious reason? You need room to work, and you probably don’t want your video-calling coworkers or clients to see a lawnmower behind you (okay, that might be a stretch, but it wouldn’t be the craziest thing we’ve seen).

So, your first step for your home office refresh is to reduce, reuse, and recycle anything that no longer sparks joy in your life. Try the KonMari Method invented by Marie Kondo of the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to declutter your whole home. Need a hand getting rid of what you no longer need in a responsible way? BCAA Members save up to 10% on junk removal with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Another great way to give back to others and keep items out of landfills is through donation.

Next, apply the same energy to your desk. To organize your command centre, get bins, baskets, desk organizers and drawers, shelves with cubby holes, and filing cabinets to hold your most-used home office supplies. Here’s a great list of 10 beautiful home office organization ideas to tame your piles of work stuff.

Choose your desk and chair wisely

A suitable desk built to the correct height and a comfortable chair can hugely impact your health and productivity. Skip the stool and invest in a good ergonomic chair; your lower back will thank you. Not sure how to choose the right chair for you? Check out this roundup of the 21 best office chairs for remote working with options for all price ranges. Bonus: you can find many of the most popular brands, like Humanscale, at Staples where BCAA Members can shop online and earn 3% back in CAA Dollars®.

 smiling woman standing at desk in a loft looking through window

Adjust your perspective

What’s the view like from your desk? Do you face a bleak wall, a bag of damp hockey gear or a pile of your kids’ toys? If your room has a window, reposition your desk so you can look out at nature and get the most natural light. According to feng shui principles, the best desk view puts your back to a wall, gives you a view of your door, but doesn’t put you directly in line with the entrance.

Many home office workers like to face their windows (hello, natural lighting for Zoom calls), but if that’s too distracting (busy neighbours) or not an option, try putting your desk perpendicular to the window. To combat glare, add window treatments such as curtains, blinds or shutters to block it out. Try Home Hardware for a variety of practical solutions (BCAA Members earn 2% back in CAA Dollars by shopping online) or opt for a more decorative approach by shopping at Bouclair (BCAA Member save 5% online).

Light it up

Good lighting will boost your mood and productivity, while lousy lighting will drain your energy, strain your eyes, give you headaches and ultimately hamper your ability to work. Here are five tips for better home office lighting:

  • Use lampshades and an upward-shining floor lap to bounce light off walls and ceilings and avoid the harsh glare of overhead lights.
  • Add well-defined task lighting, like an adjustable/articulated desk lamp, for your computer work and paperwork.
  • Eliminate glares and shadows.
  • Use good natural light.
  • Add decorative lights (like wall sconces) and accent lighting (mantel or picture lights) to improve the visual character of your home office.

Bouclair has many options that are both functional and super stylish. Even better, BCAA Members can shop online and save 5%.

Man working on laptop at home office

Plants make you a happy home worker

Studies show that green offices with plants make people happier and up to 15% more productive. Plants will improve your health and mood, reduce your anxiety, fatigue and sick days, and help your creativity. They even help absorb background noise if you position them around the edges and corners of your room. Good tall sound-absorption plants are the Snake Plant, Fiddle Leaf Fig, and the Weeping Fig. To give your home office a welcome pop of green, here are over 20 easy-to-care-for plants and tips from BCAA’s very own gardening pros on how to keep them happy and healthy!

Add some colour

Not only can a coat of paint freshen up a room, but it can also affect your mood and productivity:

  • Blue provides peace and calm and helps to stimulate the mind. Cool blue tones help with focus and promote productivity.
  • Also known as the cheerful colour, yellow stimulates creativity and innovation.
  • Green helps you remain calm and efficient, and it doesn’t cause eye fatigue.

Paint is a great, simple way to breathe new life into a room and is a low-risk update. If you don’t like it or change your mind in the future, simply paint over it. Don’t forget to use your BCAA Membership to unlock savings for your next paint project. Members save 25% at Dulux Paints and Cloverdale Paints.

Bohemian home office interior

Turn your walls into a gallery

The wall space behind you doesn't have to be blank. Fill your vertical space with inspiring art, photographs, storage shelving, wall organizers and calendars. You’ll find great ideas for home office background decor in House Beautiful, Apartment Therapy, MyDomaine designers, and these Home Office Do’s and Don’ts from Decorilla.

Make scents

To make your home a place you’re happy to work in, look to the power of aromatherapy. Try a diffuser to pump natural essential oils into the room and transform your space with the invigorating smell of peppermint or rosemary (great for focus), or chamomile or lavender (calming properties reduce stress). BCAA Members save 10% on online purchases.

Whatever your home workspace update involves, learn how you can use your BCAA Membership card to save and earn CAA Dollars® at every step.

Bonus tip: Protect the space you love

Get peace of mind knowing your home (including your fresh new workspace) is covered for the unexpected. Our BCAA Insurance Advisors can help you customize your policy to match your unique space and lifestyle. For a quick quote today, visit bcaa.com/home and learn how BCAA Members can save up to 20%.