In my other article posted today, I mentioned the difference between surviving and thriving in a remote and potentially flexible work environment. I thought it might also be beneficial to share my setup, as well as some general suggestions, for those looking to set up or improve their home workspace.
As you are able, try to invest in your home workspace. Truly, this isn’t just an investment in home office equipment. It’s an investment in yourself, your productivity, and your comfort. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars setting up a home office, but you should at least have a comfortable and sustainable setup. Although you can certainly survive with what you have now, a small investment can make you proud of a home workspace you can thrive in.
NOTE: The links you see below are NOT referral links. Instead, I’ve used Amazon Smile links, so you can donate a portion of your purchase to your favorite organization. I don’t receive anything when you click on my links or buy items. I’m here to provide free unbiased advice, not to profit off my readers.
Admittedly, my desk is relatively cheap, and rather small. This fits my workspace well, but if you’ve got the real estate, I’d recommend something a little bigger. And if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money on something fancy, a 6 foot folding table can be extremely minimalist and functional (this was my previous “desk” that I used through college).
If you work a 40 hour work week, that means you spend nearly 25% of your time sitting in your desk chair. Although it’s tempting to use a folding chair or pick the cheapest option available to you, consider at least investing in a “budget model” ergonomic desk chair. I own this chair, and for the most part, it’s held up throughout the years. One comfort upgrade I did recently make was to add some memory foam arm pads. This might be because one of my arm rests was cracked and splitting in half, but it was a welcome (and affordable) upgrade to my workspace.
However, if you’re really serious about investing in a chair, you should be looking into the Aeron Chair from Herman Miller. The Aeron is legendary for comfort, support, and even other health benefits – although it comes with a hefty price tag as well. Also note that ordering directly from Herman Miller is your most expensive option – some more reasonable (read: $400-700) options can be found from a dealer.
For my setup, I have two 27″ IPS Monitors that I purchased during a BenQ sale a few years back for my gaming setup. Depending on your job role, you may not need dual monitors or as large of a screen. However, I would strongly recommend purchasing a second monitor or two – especially if you have a smaller laptop screen. No need to go crazy here – remember, two 1080p monitors easily beat one 4K monitor for most home workspaces.
Monitor Desk Mount
Another great way to save space and keep your viewing angle a little higher is with a monitor desk mount. Even better if you’re going with a dual or triple monitor setup!
Vertical Laptop Stand
If you’re running out of desk space, consider picking up a vertical desk stand. The one I use is adjustable, so it works well on both Macbooks and various Windows laptops. If you’re using a monitor desk mount like me, you can even tuck this stand away behind the screen to keep all your cables organized.
While commuting, I usually wear my Galaxy Buds – they’re the perfect combination of portability, quality, and comfort for my daily train ride. However, when I’m working from home (and especially while my wife is also working), I wear my newly purchased Sony XM3 headphones with active noise cancellation. If you work in a noisy environment, active noise cancelling can be a huge lifesaver. But again, these may not be for everyone – a budget headset also gets the job done here.
You’ll want a higher quality keyboard than what your laptop offers. I use a wireless mechanical keyboard from Logitech. My favorite feature about this keyboard is it can use both Bluetooth and Logitech’s USB receiver, allowing you to quickly switch between two computers. If you’re not a gamer, a regular wired or wireless keyboard works as well. This is my favorite budget keyboard from Kensington.
Please, please, if you only have one takeaway from this article – don’t use your laptop’s built-in trackpad. Most trackpads, in my opinion, simply were not engineered for comfort during an 8 daily hour shift.
Personally, I’ve made the switch to a trackball mouse for work. I’ve found that I really love the trackball, as it reduces wrist movement and discomfort. Be forewarned, there is a significant learning curve – if you’ve never used one before, you will look like you’ve never used a computer for the first few days. Since I know I’m a trackball guy, I invested in the Logitech MX Ergo. Similar to my keyboard, it supports both Logitech’s USB receiver and Bluetooth, so it’s easy to switch between machines. Additionally, it’s built very well and has some handy programmable buttons.
If you’re just looking to try out a trackball for the first time, I recommend the Logitech M570. At a much lower price point, you still get one of the best trackballs on the market, just without some of the more advanced features.
If you’re insistent on using a traditional mouse, I recommend the Logitech G602 wireless mouse. At its price point, the programmable options are fantastic. If you’re looking for a budget option, try this USB mouse – it still beats a trackpad.
Miscellaneous items to consider
If you’re near your router or if you have proper wiring throughout your home, consider wiring your laptop with an Ethernet cable to improve your network stability. If you don’t have the capabilities to do this, no need to worry about it, unless you’re having frequent Wi-Fi issues. And if you’re having frequent Wi-Fi issues, then you’ll probably be looking into a router upgrade – which could be a whole separate article!
While we’re on the subject, if you have a newer laptop or a Macbook, you may have some USB-C ports. I highly recommend picking up a USB-C hub if you don’t already have one. These are especially useful for leaving plugged in at your desk as a pseudo-docking station. I recently purchased this one.
Lastly, cables in your workspace can be pretty annoying; they become tangled and are generally unsightly. I always keep a few bags of Velcro cable ties in my workshop for cable management. They’re inexpensive, discreet, and allow me to hide cables along my monitor desk mount. Zip ties can also work in a pinch, however I prefer the Velcro alternative as they’re easily reusable.
If you’re like me and went the route of docking your laptop, you may want to purchase a USB webcam to place on top of your monitor (since your laptop will be closed). I use a simple 720p webcam from Logitech. Many webcams are currently sold out at major retailers due to the recent high demands, but you should be able to find a new or gently used one on eBay for a reasonable price.
Hopefully, hearing about my setup and suggestions have helped you re-imagine your current home workspace. Have any further ideas, suggestions, or questions? Please feel free to comment below – I promise I don’t bite!