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How to set up your home office
According to the U.S. Census, 5.2-percent of people worked from home in 2017. That number has probably skyrocketed due to the current state of things, and we’ll likely see a much higher number once we come out on the other side. While there can be a large temptation to work on your couch or kitchen counter, it’s often a good idea to separate your workspace so your entire home doesn’t feel like the office.
So what do you need to set up an effective home office? We’re glad you asked.
What you’ll need:
1: A good desk
The choice of an office desk is an extremely personal thing. There are standing desks, L-shape desks, and every kind of desk in-between. Depending on the features you want, these can range from anywhere between $50 to over $1,000.
I have a desk in my studio and my darkroom, both of which serve different purposes. The desk in my studio is the one I would recommend most people buy. It’s simple to put together and looks good, and should fit well in most rooms. Your desk is the focal point of your home office, so make sure you get something you like.
You’re going to be putting most things on this list on the top of your desk, so it’s important that it’s big enough to suit your needs. If you go for multiple monitors you’ll want to make sure you get something large enough.
2: A comfortable office chair
You’re going to be sitting a lot while working from your home office, so you’ll want to make sure you get something you can sit in for extended periods. A good office chair ideally has good lumbar support and a headrest. While there are a huge amount of options out there, I chose my office chair because it has great support, a headrest, and wheels.
A mesh design may not always be as comfortable as leather, but it can help your back breathe more easily. If you’re going to be sitting in your chair all day long, you’ll want to make sure it has good airflow. I chose my chair for that exact reason, and I’m glad I did.
3: An ergonomic mouse
Considering a mouse is how you’re going to interact with your computer every day, it’s important that you get a good one. Fortunately, good mice aren’t overly expensive. I’ve been using Logitech’s MX Master series for years now, starting with the original and moving to the 2 and then 3.
This mouse has been consistently great across generations, offering incredible battery life and connections for up to three devices. It can scroll up, down, left and right, and has a variety of different macro buttons on it for hotkeys and shortcuts. It even has USB-C!
Probably the best part about the MX Master 3 is its design. It keeps your hand in a mostly open position and I haven’t had any fatigue while using it daily. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common results of the computer age, so it’s important to mitigate it as much as possible.
4: A mouse pad
While a mouse pad isn’t essential for every surface, you’ll be glad you bought one. There are all kinds of mouse pads, from soft cloth to hard-surfaced. It’s really a personal thing which one you like, but since I move around so much I went simple with mine. I’ve been using a Razer mousepad from years ago which has been discontinued now, but I can confirm they have a lot of great options.
You could buy a small one that only fits your mouse or an ultra-long one that stretches underneath your keyboard. Whatever option you get, it’ll make your computer-interaction experience a whole lot better.
5: A good monitor
Whether you have a desktop or a laptop, having a good, large monitor is important. It can help you multitask more effectively, and it’s easier on your eyes. While I’d recommend at least a 24-inch monitor for office use, some ultra-wide monitors stretch 34 inches and longer.
The Dell Professional P2417H is a great choice for a 24-inch option. I’ve used multiple iterations of this monitor over the years and used them in arrays of up to three. They can work in both landscape and portrait orientation, which can be more comfortable for things like coding. They’ve also got VESA mounts and plenty of I/O built-in, so you can mount them and route your cables with ease.
6: A laptop or desktop computer
Whether you need a laptop or desktop depends solely on how often you plan on leaving your office. Do you like to work from cafes or the couch on occasion? A laptop is a better option for that. But if you need a ton of power and don’t mind it staying still, a desktop can be a better value.
Currently, I’m using the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo, and I love it. The Duo offers plenty of power, with the latest Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM and a ton of storage. This is more of a desktop replacement than a laptop and comes with a wrist rest for its massive keyboard. It helps me power through a ton of content creation, especially with that second display.
7: Some nice wired headphones
If you’re going to be sitting in an office all day, you’ll want something with good sound to power your workflow. I’m deferring to our friends over at SoundGuys for this one, who recommend the Monoprice Monolith M565 over-ear planar magnetic headphones. These headphones produce fantastic sound for the cost and look great to boot.
While Bluetooth headphones are great for daily use, they can be annoying if you need to change your audio source frequently. Because of this, I’d stick with wired cans in the office. If you’re an audiophile, you can also buy an amplifier to give those headphones an extra kick.
8: A good keyboard
Since you’re going to be typing all day, it’s vital that you have a keyboard that keeps your hands comfortable. Personally, I recommend mechanical keyboards. I could rant and rave about mechanical keyboards for hours, especially since I used to build them myself. But there are so many great options on the market already, you should just go with one of those if you don’t want to get too deep into custom builds.
The Leopold FC660C is one of my favorite keyboards ever, offering Topre switches which feel amazing to type on. It’s a simple-looking board and quite stealthy, but believe me when I say it will make your typing experience so much better.
These are just the essentials of what you need to set up a home office. There are countless other ways to add pizazz to your setup, so let us know what you use to get comfortable in the comments below!
Also be sure to check out our work from home hub or the widget below for more advice to working from home and the gear you’ll need.