The pandemic has changed the working habits of a lot of people. I'm a huge fan of remote working and I've done it before, so for me, this has been an easy transition. But I thought this might help give some people new to the game some ideas.
If you can, have a dedicated space. For me, the beauty of work comes when you're in the flow and time just stops. To get into this flow state, you need a place where no one else is bothering you. Sondra Rhimes put it best in my opinion:
The hum is a drug, the hum is music, the hum is God's whisper in her ear. (Sondra Rhimes)
Having a dedicated space also helps you work when you should be working, and not work when you should be off. People who have never worked remote tend to think the default is to work too little; in my life—and I've found this is common—the default is to work too much. You need a good separation from work and the rest of your life.
However, one of the advantages of working from home is that you can make your space any way you want it. For me, that's candles, incense, good music, living plants, and images of things that bring me into my happy place.
Ergonomics are important. I spend at least 40 hours a week in my office, it needs to be comfortable. When you're looking at stuff to buy, consider the lifespan as well as the price. I recently bought a new Aeron and when I did, my son inherited my old Herman Miller chair. It's older than him and is as good as new (after a good dusting). I also spent a fortune on my newest dog bed (comparatively), but we've gone through so many cheap dog beds that end up in a landfill.
Other stuff doesn't have to be nice. The footstool helps keep in a good posture when I'm working. It's cheap, but it's also low-impact on the environment (bamboo) and despite being "cheap" it'll probably last a good 20–30 years. The 'speaker stands' are quick pine constructions that I bought at Home Depot for under $20 and then installed in a few minutes with the aid of a saw and a drill.
For me, good music is part of staying focused, but headphones are far too dominant—so, good speakers. I have two halves to my job: one is creative, coming up with something new and fighting the blank page. The other is primarily production (frontend development work). Depending on what I'm working on and how focused I need to be, the music can be either pretty front-and-center and loud or playing softly in the background. But I believe in good speakers. I'm not going to play good music through my laptop speakers. Current playlist.
Apps I use on a daily basis:
- Ulysses for distraction free writing
- Bear, the best notes app ever made
- Slack for communication
- Figma for UX sketches
- Sublime Text for coding
- Adobe's suite for traditional design (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign)
- Lightroom (not Classic) for photo organization and editing
- Apple's Mail and Calendar—they aren't great, but I still haven't found better
Various things featured
Instead of doing the traditional route and linking actual products, I'm going to be a little more vague so that people can make decisions based on their budget or style. For instance, I like B&W for my speakers and that company has been very kind with repairs, but I have the very bottom level of speaker. For me and my ear, that's good. But if you're an audiophile and can afford 20K speakers, good on you.
This is all a work in progress.
- Photo wall: basically free, the prints were like 50¢ each or something. I believe in photography and while I might not be the world's best photographer, I can look up and see my memories and remember what really matters.
- Desk: I use a concrete table meant to be outdoor furniture. I like tables vs desks because they're generally a little bigger, but they're also generally a little taller. If you do that, you're going to need a footstool.
- Desk pad: Mine is from Grovemade. They make lovely stuff, this is no exception. I expect it to last decades.
- Heater: Even in August I find myself using this on occasion. We have massive trees shading our house and they keep it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Take care of your trees, they're magic.
- Computer: I'm currently using the 16" Macbook Pro. I have a feeling it will my last laptop. The iPad Pro 11 (also pictured) is amazing and the only time I really need a laptop is when I'm using the computer on my actual lap. I think I'm headed toward an iMac as soon as Apple releases one with their new chip. I used to get really fired up about my hardware, either I'm getting older and wiser or Apple has stopped being that exciting. Probably a little of both.
- Display: I'm spoiled and need 5K. The LG 27" 5K is really the only option that I know of. It's ok, obviously doesn't look like an Apple display, but even I can't justify a $7K display.
- Audio: I have an Audioengine N22 that I use to drive my music through analog speakers. I'm not sure this is the most elegant solution and if I could find a better way to play music from my computer to a high end speaker, I'd change it up in a heartbeat. My speakers are from B&W.
- Critters: Two cats, two dogs. Having animals is such a lovely part of working-from-home. Even the one that licks her paws during video meetings. You know when you're stuck on a problem and can't leave the computer? That's a good time for a walk, and the furballs are generally more than happy to comply. Unless it's raining, in which case the world outside is scary and miserable and they can't be moved.
- Real plants: I'm a huge fan of plants. I'm not great at keeping them alive sometimes, but despite that I have a house filled with green plants. My office is slightly different as I keep it pretty dark, so all the plants have to be able to handle the lower light, but I still have some bamboo and some cactus looking thing.
It's not really about stuff; it's the lifestyle. This is your spot to craft your space. We spend more time working than anything else we do, maybe even sleeping. That's not always a bad thing, I'm lucky in that I love my work, but make it a great time if you can.