The home office, your base of operations. The place where you will spend most of your hours. It's the place where you are the commander, you know the ins and outs of it and there is no place on earth where you'll be more productive.
If you were to launch a rocket into space, you'd want to do it from there.
When you start your first remote day, that messy old desk isn't going to cut it. You need to create your productivity shrine. Let's go over some steps to see how we can achieve just that.
First; do you already know where you are going to place that shrine? If not I recommend that you read this post first.
Set a budget
Spending a lot of money on your space is easy. Make a budget to prevent yourself from buying things that you don't need or that are very fancy without adding that much value.
What should your budget be?
Well, I can't decide that for you. It depends on many things;
- Do you already have an ergonomic chair?
- Do you already have decent monitors?
- Do you want a motorized standing desk?
- Are you planning on updating any other gear?
- Do you want to repaint the room or leave it as is?
See where I am going with this? It depends on what you have collected over the years and how big your plans are for your space.
If you are going to work for some bigger remote working companies, chances are you they will facilitate you with a decent ergonomic chair and computer equipment of your choice. Then you already have a set budget.
Have a budget in mind? Great!
Visualize your dream workspace! Will it be all white, mostly mat black or will it have a specific designer theme? It's all up to you, but before you go out and buy anything think about it.
Need some inspiration? Here are some useful resources to draw some inspiration from;
- Jonathan Morrison has some great videos about this topic
- This Pinterest board about setups (curated by yours truly)
Got something in mind? Maybe even sketch something down? Great! Let's pick the equipment for your home command center.
The foundation, the chair
You would think that building out your space would start with picking a desk. But, how about you invest in a proper object for your back and butt first? With the leftover money you can buy/decorate the rest.
I recommend looking for an ergonomic chair because you are going to spend a lot of hours on it as opposed to your dinner table chairs. Get something that is made to keep you in a proper sitting posture.
But what are good ergonomic chairs in different price ranges?
- Expensive: Steelcase Gesture
- Mid range: Herman Miller Aeron
- Cheaper: Alera Elusion
- Most affordable: Flash furniture mesh chair
Instead of buying a chair of the internet, I highly recommend visiting an (office) furniture store nearby. Try out different models of chairs. Your height, weight, and width play a huge role in how comfortable the chair is and how much of the ergonomic benefits you will experience.
*I know there are many even more expensive chairs, but most of them are more designer than ergonomic. If you want to see some of them search for Vitra / Eames office chairs or some of Herman Millers more exclusive chairs.
When you stand for more extended periods of the day
If you are planning to use a standing desk for more extended periods of the day, you maybe want to invest in a balancing board.
Balancing boards are great if you experience some soreness in your calves while standing for long periods of time. A well-known balance board is the fluidstance. If you search the web, you may find a better alternative that fits your specific needs better.
It's also extremely fun to learn tricks with a balancing board.
Not a chair and not a standing desk
Have you considered not going for a chair at all?
When working from a co-working space, I saw some people sitting on a ball behind there desk. I don't know if there is any science behind this, but they seemed to be forced to sit up straight by the ball. If they didn't do it, they risked falling flat on their butt.
Buying that extra display can increase your productivity
For many years I've been using multiple screens. When I build my previous desk, I only had space for one. I have to say; it didn't take me long to redesign that space. I just had to have two displays. I wasn't that productive when only using one monitor.
But was I kidding myself? Or is there some evidence for this? There is! According to a report by Jon Peddie research using multiple displays can increase your productivity by 42%.
Having one of the monitors in portrait mode adds to productivity by eliminating the need to scroll.
Maybe now is the time to (re)consider a second display for your desk.
Personally, I have two Dell Ultrasharp monitors. Because they deliver an incredibly accurate picture quality for the price. It also has plenty of screen real estate since it has four times as much pixels as a Full HD screen.
If you want something cheap and decent, I recommend this bang for the buck Viewsonic display. Excellent image quality and enough pixels to give you some screen real estate to work with.
Ergonomic mouse and keyboard
Ergonomic isn't something you associate with mouse and keyboards. But think about it, why not go for an ergonomic option when you spend almost as much time with your mouse and keyboard as on your chair.
When I talk about this with my friends, they always say something down the lines of "ergonomic would be great, but I can't concentrate with a clicky keyboard".
Currently, I am rocking this Microsoft sculpt bundle which also includes an ergonomic mouse. It's no louder than other keyboards and it eliminated the pain while typing for extended periods of time.
The only trade-off is that an ergonomic keyboard requires a little effort in learning the new key layout. But after a couple of hours, you will type just as fast and more comfortable than on a regular keyboard (and with less risk of getting RSI).
Headphones and microphones
Now that all necessary things are out of the way let's look at audio. Especially when you work from home a good pair of headphones and a good sounding microphone are a must.
You can also buy a pair of speakers, but in my experience having a pair of great headphones is far more important than a pair of speakers;
- The person on the other side of the call will never hear himself over my speakers.
- You always enjoy a good quality of sound even in the late hours.
- A good pair of headphones is cheaper than a good pair of speakers (although this is very much subjective).
- Bonus; noise-canceling headphones can filter distracting buzzes.
After you've settled for a pair of speakers, headphones or both. Let's do our co-workers a favor and look at what quality our microphone is. If you use a high-end laptop, chances are you have nothing to worry about. But if you are rocking a desktop with something that looks like a microphone or lower quality laptop let's do a test.
I found this website, privacy ensured, where you can record yourself and playback the recording.
Did it sound great? Then go to the next step? Otherwise, you may want to look for a quality USB microphone. Currently, I am using the Rode NT microphone, which is play and play on both my PC and Macbook. Another great brand for USB microphones is Blue I know many people who own cheaper and more expensive models of Blue microphones, they all sound great enough for a team call.
Accessories; make it green and personal
Some of the most beautiful setups I've seen include some plants (or fake plants). They add (fake) life and a bit of color to your space. Place a small potted plant on your desk, or buy a bigger one for the empty corner in your room. You can't go wrong with plants.
Another thing that can add to your space are pictures of your family and friends or art. This is where you can add in a truly personal touch to your space.
And after all, that is just what this whole post is about. If you are working from home, create your personal space and don't settle for something half decent. You are going to spend a good percentage of your life there.