My Desktop Setup

22 Ergonomic and Productivity Tips

Chris Laffra
The Startup
Published in
12 min readJan 31, 2020


If you suddenly find yourself working from home as a result from Covid-19 and you wonder how to set up an effective home environment, scroll down to tip 13 that describes my home setup. Also, check out the article How to work from home effectively that specifically discusses communication techniques when working remotely. For general tips on communicating better as an engineer, check out my recent book, C4E.

Whenever people see my desk, they often ask me about my interesting keyboard setup. One person suggested I spend some time to write down my various productivity hacks I picked up over the years. So, herewith, below find a list of products and tools I collected and created over time that help me stay productive, both at work and at home.

Most of the tips here are ergonomic of nature. If you are like me and you use your computer for a major part of the day, you should always be mindful how you set up and use your workstation. DO NOT WORK DIRECTLY FROM YOUR LAPTOP.

My Desk at Work

My desk at Uber Amsterdam

1. MacBook Pro

This laptop is provided to me by my employer. When I joined Uber two years ago, I chose the 13” model, because it weighs a fair bit less than its larger cousin. I am trading off CPU power and screen size willingly here, as I have large monitors both at home and at work, so I care less about screen size.

That said, when working on the large Android monorepo at Uber, I can feel the pain, especially when IntelliJ and the emulator are fighting for CPU cycles on my underpowered “executive” laptop.

Interestingly enough, I am currently working on a project where we are moving towards remote development using containers in the cloud. All of a sudden, all the work happens somewhere else and my laptop’s disadvantage is now turning into a nice advantage. My next upgrade may very well be a Chromebook!

2. APEX Laptop Stand

A minimalist desktop setup using my favorite laptop stand.

The Apex laptop stand was one of the early kickstarter projects that I signed up for. It took quite a while to…



Chris Laffra
The Startup

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