With everyone working from home, it’s important to have a good setup. You want to ensure you’re still productive during this crazy time. Although things are starting to get back to normal for some parts of the world, other people are learning the value of working from home. If you are still working from home, or planning to work from home a little more than pre-COVID, here’s some top tips for ensuring you have a good setup. One that is useful, productive, and fun!
I say fun, because if you’re not excited to go to your place of work, then you simply won’t be productive. If you’ve got some space to play with, then let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to make your new (or revamped) setup work well for you.
My Ultimate work from home setup
Before we jump into specific pieces of gear, take a moment to check out what I consider to be my ultimate setup. I was lucky enough to acquire a second room in the current place I’m staying in. I spent six weeks putting the room together just the way I want. I’ve been dreaming about something like this for a long time and I’m so happy to finally be able to make it a reality. So here’s my ultimate work from home setup in six weeks. Well, a hyperlapse of it happening in under three minutes!
Now let’s jump into all that sweet gear and top tips on building an epic setup.
Most people these days require a computer to work. If you don’t, then you probably wouldn’t be working from home, and would have no need to read this post! Some people feel the need to have a fully customised computer build. Most however, only require a laptop or Macbook. If you’ve got either of these, then you’ve already got your computer system sorted. Now it’s a matter of making it work well from home. Laptops are great for travelling and working in cafes. But when you’re suck working on it in a chair 8 hours a day, you’ll want a few extras to make work more comfortable.
The first thing you’ll need is a docking station. This will allow you to connect to all the fancy extras that make work more comfortable. A docking station usually comes in the form of a long bar with multiple different outputs. You can get small ones with room for one monitor and a couple of USB ports. If you want to go big however, you’re going to want something more up market. I went for the ATEN USB-C Multiport Dock. This thing is an absolute beast.
It has 13 different ports including space for two monitors, USB C and USB 3 ports, SD card, and ethernet. This dock is the only thing you’ll need to build your ultimate work setup. It’s a little on the pricy side, but well worth the money to ensure you have everything you need to work comfortably at a desk. It even has power through the dock, meaning you only need to connect one plug to your computer. This way, you can easily grab you laptop and head to your coffee meeting; when you’re allowed out again!
Go big on the screen
Okay so now you have your docking station, you can have an additional monitor, or two. Monitors are crucial for working at home. There’s no way you can stare at your tiny 13″ or 15″ screen all day long. My preference is to go for two large screen monitors; that’s why I got the ATEN multiport dock instead of dock with only one monitor output. With the ATEN I can have two monitors setup side by side. This is what I have at the office in town. For my home setup, I actually have three monitors since I’m working off a massive PC build. Three monitors gives you the flexibility to do whatever you like. You’ll notice I also have one setup vertical which is perfect for coding or other documentation.
You’ll probably just want to opt for one or two monitors. If you’re going for two, it’s usually a good idea to have two of the same monitors. You can choose to set them up side-by-side so it’s split right in front of you, or you can have one off to the side. Whichever you decide, make sure you’re not turning your head too much to view each screen. This can cause neck strain and back problems. Instead, if you need to turn to view your monitor/s, turn your whole body, not just your head.
Keyboards, mice, and other fun things
We’ve got the monitors setup, and the computer, now how about the extra bits? Keyboards, mice, headsets, microphone etc. Depending on what you’re doing for work, you’ll want different things. I ALWAYS opt for a keyboard and mouse, no matter where I am. I even travel with a mouse in my luggage (when we can travel). I simply can’t stand using trackpads and so mouse is my number one go to.
Depending on how you like to work, you might not want a keyboard. You might instead want a half decent webcam. My recommendation is the Razer Kygo webcam. It’s high quality and has a built in light. Everyone on your next virtual meeting will notice the difference. If you need a better microphone, then the Razer Seiren Mini is the perfect combo. It’s not expensive, it’s great quality, and best of all it’s plug and play. Just plug it into your docking station or your computer and start chatting.
As for headphones, this is a matter of personal preference. Lots of people like to go for earbuds, or something really cheap. If you’re on the lower end of the budget, then a couple of my favourites are the Razer Kraken and the RIG Gaming 400. You can check out my reviews on both the Razer and RIG headsets. I have the RIG Gaming headset in the Artic Cameo and I prettied it up with the Neon Purple Razer Kitty ears. Super cute!
Desk and chair
This is one very important feature. You’re going to be sitting at your desk, in your chair for hours on end. You want to make sure both are comfortable and good for your posture. Ensure the desk is the right height; most are adjustable these days or you can get sit/stand desk. I grabbed a desk from Officeworks and paired it with a generic Ikea one. For my chair, I went a little more all out!
ZQ Racing are one of my favourite companies. They do amazing, high quality chairs. Even if you can’t afford one of their gorgeous, plush, squishy chairs, it’s definitely worth investing in their velvet memory foam cushions. This is one of the best purchases I’ve made for this whole setup. My back loves me for it and I feel so much better sitting and working for hours on end. If you ever want to see my chair (or anything else mentioned here) in action, tune into one of my live streams.
Lights, plants, and funky vibes
Okay so you got the tech working for you, now you need to beautify your space. I have things like feature lights, plants, statues, lanyards, poster frames, books, medals, whatever makes the space feel cool and epic. Items that are special or have a connection to you and your work are helpful for creating an atmosphere of work. Lots of people like to display their qualifications, some (like me), have lanyards hanging on the back of the door from all conferences I attend. I’m also a big gamer and pop culture fan. So I have Lego, anime statues, Dungeons & Dragons board game, Final Fantasy posters, and a D20 dice atop my computer. Well, those among other things. Check out the hyperlapse again and see what you can spot.
As for the lighting, I like to use LIFX smart lighting. They run on WiFi and have a heap of built in functions, settings, and ambient environments. I even programmed them to work on my Elgato Stream deck. Learn how to program and setup your lights by watching the recording on my Twitch channel.
Finally, plants! You need some greenery in your life. Studies have shown that looking at something green for even 15 minutes can dramatically improve your productivity. I’m lucky enough to have a lovely courtyard to look out onto, but I also have lots of plants in my room. Varieties like ivy, succulents, and bamboo do well indoors. Plants have really livened up the work space.
The Ultimate setup
Well that’s all from me and my top tips for creating an awesome setup. I hope you now have some ideas for designing your work from home space. If you’ve thought of something amazing, or there’s a piece of tech you’d like to share, post in the comments below or share them with me on Twitter.