My physical work area is a key component of my productivity and happiness. One of the advantages of working remotely is that you can really work anywhere, as long as you have internet access and cell phone reception. I try to work about one day a week from a coffee house with some friends to get that in-person social interaction while I work that I miss from the office. It’s great, however I often find myself missing my home office. I’ve spent lots of time working on honing my home office to the best work area it can be (I rent, so no massive construction). I spend 8-20 hours a day in it, so it’s important that it’s conducive to lowering stress, being ergonomically beneficial, and making me productive and happy.
The key points for me are:
- Good tech hardware: I work with computers for a living
- Ergonomic environment: I spend all day sitting in my chair, typing, etc…
- Good environment: Music, light, art, plants, view, etc…
Some details below the fold…
First is the hardware setup. My primary work machine is an Apple MacBookPro laptop. I can take my whole working soft environment with me to the coffee shop, the airplane, Ohio, Boston, anywhere. I have it on a raised stand to move the screen height up to a more comfortable eye level. I also plug it into a 30″ Apple display, which is my primary screen while I work. Being able to see a full width source file, with an outline view in the right pane of Eclipse, the server log scrolling by in the bottom pane, and the source tree/project tree in the left pane, makes me so much more productive. No time spent scrolling, switching windows, switching applications, etc… I use a wireless Apple keyboard, which I really love, and a wireless Microsoft ergo mouse with a gel-pad wrist rest mousepad. These are the best, least RSI causing input devices for me. I also have an older Apple desktop under the desk, currently plugged into a refurb 22″ Dell (which makes odd noises). This desktop is my file storage machine (with a couple of TB of attached storage), backup server for my laptop and my wife’s laptop, bittorrent client, media server, music server, print server, photo repository, etc… It used to be my primary machine, but the MacBookPro is faster and easier to carry around. I have a scanner, a general printer, and a wide photo printer, plugged into it.
The laptop is plugged into Apple Soundsticks USB speakers (plus sub-woofer) for my working tunes. I love having music on while I work, and usually listen to electronic music of some kind. Massive Attack, Moby, Hooverphonic, Chemical Brothers, Crystal Method, BT, DJ Shadow, Jillian Ann, etc… I need a good beat, and lyrics I can ignore.
I use an Aeron chair. For someone who spends as much time in their chair as I do, it’s the best investment I could have made. I love it.
I keep my two desk sections clean, except for my water, tea, phone, and any papers I’m dealing with immediately (bills, contracts, etc…). If I let things get cluttered, I get stressed out. Keeping my surroundings orderly is the easiest way for me to calm my internal state.
I have artwork on my walls. The big anime piece I printed out/put together, and the kanji was done by my wife. I have a window looking out onto our yard and the neighborhood beyond. I just moved a little bamboo plant from the kitchen in, and so far I like having it in front of me.