Working From Home Setup 3.0
This will be my third Working From Home setup posts, which you can catch up on by reading the first two here:
Since WFH Setup 2.0, my wife and I moved out of our last rental and purchased our first home. With it came a lot of stress and money, but in the end set us up with a new house to call our home. Which includes a space for a nursery for our, soon to come, baby boy and, more importantly¹, a new shared office space.
I will admit that the office size is not as large as I would have liked it to be, but I feel I have made some right buying decisions and planning to make the setup work great in the space available. With a large window facing out to the pool, repainted walls with a cool blue accent wall, and upgrading light with a ceiling fan, all I needed to figure out is how my desk setup would be.
When I started thinking about how I wanted my new space to be, I had to consider the fact that I am still working from home. I missed no longer having a way to stand while I work and I was ready to move on from the pure white-colored desk that I have had for over five years now.
I was also required to return my 27-inch 4K Monitor for work and was given a smaller 24-inch 1080p monitor. This also led me to no longer make the monitor a focal point or essential part of my desk setup. The monitor is literally just a tool for me when I need to extend my 13-inch work laptop, not for constant use, whether for work or personal related tasks.
A lot has changed, yet there is still very little to go over since I still tried to keep my setup minimal. Like my other Work From Home Setup posts, I want to separate how I use this setup for work versus personal.
First off, I finally bought myself a motorized sitting/standing desk. This desk is nowhere near as nice as some of the desks available. I wanted to get an Uplift Standing Desk with the solid wood in Walnut version but spending $1400+ for a desk was definitely outside my budget.
Instead, I purchased the TechOrbits Electric Standing Desk with the black frame and brown wood top. The top resembles a more walnut color and is a bit darker in person than in the pictures. The dimensions are 60 inches wide and 24 inches deep.
Putting the desk together was straightforward, and the motorized standing and sitting motor seem to work pretty great. I can preset four different height options and have up and down arrows to move the desk manually up and down.
Overall I find the desk pretty great. The only complaint that I have is that the wood lament top looks a little more fake or cheap than I was hoping, but for a desk under $300 compared to the other priced desks, it isn’t that bad. I was also surprised at how shallow 24 inches was when I set it up, but I don’t find it to be an issue.
Compared to my previous Ikea desk, the area of working space feels tiny. This, to me, is a benefit. My last desk’s size allowed it to be continuously cluttered, and it was easy to dump a ton of stuff in corners since I had so much space to work with. This desk forces me to be a lot more organized and for everything to have its place.
The functionality of this desk is the more important part, though. Since being able to stand halfway through a workday or in meetings has been very beneficial to my productivity. Sometimes when you want to focus on something or change modes to work on something else, moving from sitting to standing or the other way around can be huge.
My favorite thing about having a standing desk in my office is standing and looking out at my pool from the window. Buying a house with a pool in the winter is a bit of a tease, but being able to see it while working reminds me of what all the hard work is worth — I guess food and shelter are important too.
I just thought I would quickly mention the mat that I am also using with my standing desk. I bought this on Amazon after about a month of using my desk. I have a pair of crocs that have become my favorite working-from-home-shoes but realized that they were not enough to prevent lower back pain after a month.
So I purchased the OPUS Anti Fatigue Comfort Floor Mat. I bought this mat because, at the time, it was under $15, and the color was black to match the frame of my desk. I don’t love how it looks, but it does the job. I still feel back pain if I stand too long in a day, but this has helped a little.
I might look for a better mat in the future; I am very fond of the active-style mats where you can lean on the edge and shift around on the mat during the workday instead of standing in the same place all day.
The ones I am looking at are the Active Anti-Fatigue Mat E7 or the Bamboo Motion-X Board both by Uplift. I have always been interested in an Under Desk Treadmill, too. Still, I could never see myself getting one since I sweat so easily, causing my zoom meetings to be a bit more uncomfortable than they already can be.
Having a hook hanging off of your desk is either a nuisance or very convenient. When I originally purchased a pair of the Brainwavz hooks years ago after seeing them recommended on a tech YouTube video. On my previous desk, they were more of a nuisance because my desk moved around a lot, so I had to shift the hooks continually.
Now that I have a pretty stationary desk with three of the sides open and not against a wall, I put a hook for my backpack, and it has become very convenient. Even more so, when I got my pair of Sony WHXB900N’s, a hook sitting on the left side was perfect for me to grab them when I need.
So on this desk, the hooks have been super convenient. I placed both, so they do not interfere with anything to move the desk up and down without fear. I also have them away from any walkway, so you don’t bump into them accidentally — which I did a lot when on my previous desk setup.
I thought I would mention how I manage all of my cables under the desk since this a must for a movable desk. I knew that I would want better cable management to avoid any mishaps when moving up and down.
The cable management under my desk is nothing too fancy, but it is much better than anything I have done before. I mounted a metal basket under the desk to keep some order and tried to keep as much the cable slack in it. The basket is being held up by some zip-ties with a 3M sticker, something like this: ZRM&E Cable Ties Strap.
On the other side of the desk, I have a NXT Power Strip Surge Protector that I bought at Staples to connect all of my equipment, including the power, to the desk. This leaves just a single braided power cable coming from the power strip to the wall. Now, when I move the desk up and down, I never worry about any cables pulling or pinching.
I also wanted to quickly go over another cable management tool that I started using even more with this new desk. When I want to move the monitor off my desk, I use this little weight cable holder to hold the HDMI and power cable, so they are ready for me when I want to put the monitor back. This is something else that I didn’t use much when I had my old desk but now is super convenient for cables.
Monitor and Laptop (and Mouse)
I am still using the same Dell Laptop, that I described in my original working from home setup, for work. Nothing that exciting, and if anything, it is getting worse than when I first started using it at home full time. I am instead using Remote Desktop to connect to my powerful PC in the office, so the laptop is just a way for me to connect remotely.
The monitor is new but is also worse, as I mentioned earlier than the 4K version I had before. It is a Dell U2419H and has a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080. It is also only 24 inches compared to the previous 27 inch monitor before it.
In all honesty, the monitor being lower resolution does not bother me when I am working. During deep focused moments, you don’t care about resolution or size; you only care about the task at hand. I use the monitor as an extension of my workflow, but it is not crucial for me to get the job done.
For a brief moment, about three weeks, I started going back into the office a couple of times a week. Once that happened, I brought back my keyboard and mouse since using them at my desk at work was more useful than having them at home. I got used to using the laptop keyboard again and started to use an old Microsoft Arc Mouse that I got over four years ago.
This minimal work setup is perfect for me to move it all off the desk if I want to have a personal setup over the weekend or on vacation. During the holidays, I had two weeks in a row where I only worked three days a week. For those last two weeks of December, I literally packed up my work laptop and just used my MacBook Air by itself on the desk.
After moving over to MagSafe for both my wife and me, we were left with a couple of extra wireless chargers. I ended up moving them to both my desk and my wife’s desk to use.
We all know the benefits of Qi Charging and having the ability just to set your phone down when you don’t need it, and it will start charging for you. I started using the Mophie Qi Charger a lot when I am listening to music or making a phone call for work on rare occasions.
It is nice to know that my phone can sit there all day with my headphone connected, knowing that it will still have a charge at the end of the day, even after listening to a ton of music and podcasts.
I still have the stand that talked about in my last post that I use for when I need to make phone calls. Eventually I will need to get a wireless charge that also is a stand for my iPhone like the Anker’s PowerWave Stand to take up less space on my desk, for now it is not an issue.
2 TB Western Digital External Drive
One other addition to my setup is an external hard drive that I found and restored. I have had this hard drive for a while but forgot about it. Since we moved, I stumbled on a bunch of crap that I went through and stumbled upon this Western Digital My Book External Hard Drive.
I think I kept it to get rid of it but wanted to destroy the drives in case data was still accessible on it. But after plugging it into my Mac and running First Air in Disk Utility, it said everything was fine. So I restored it to AFPS and set up a couple of partitions.
I created three different partitions: Data, Time Machine, and Wifey TM. Data is 1.5 TB available for any data that I want to offload from my MacBook or my wife’s MacBook if we need to clear up space but not ready to delete anything. The two other partitions are a Time Machine for me and a Time Machine for my wife, both 512 GB, to match our laptops’ disk sizes.
I velcro-ed the drive to the bottom of my desk and keep the USB-A cable in the cable holder when I need it. I do weekly Time Machine backups for my wife and I’s MacBooks and only offload data when we need it, which isn’t very often. I do have to use dongle for both of our laptops since it is USB-A, I have had this one from Apple that hasn’t failed me yet.
For now, this is sort of a place holder for my future home server that I want to set up. Eventually, I would like to set up a Mac mini that can keep local backups of our machines, photos, music, and other data that we want to keep track of. I have other ideas for this server too, but we will see what I end up doing once I get one.
MacBook Air (M1)
The centerpiece of my setup is the MacBook Air that I purchased late last year. Contemplating what computer I wanted to get in my anticipation of moving and knowing I wanted to go back to the Mac from an iPad Pro, I have never been happier with a MacBook by Apple since my very first MacBook Pro.
I went over all of this in my review of the M1 MacBook Air, but I had initially set my mind on getting a MacBook Air but the only ones available at the time were Intel. Apple’s M1 chip hadn’t been announced yet.
So when the M1 chip was announced along with the new MacBook Air, I knew I wanted to get one. After some back and forth on my risk of compatibility with specific workflows that I had, it all ended up working out well. I really can’t stress enough how happy I am with this little machine.
Whether I am standing, sitting, or not even at my desk and somewhere else in my house, this MacBook Air is a fantastic computer. It not only provides a very minimal setup at my desk but also looks pretty good on the faux laminated walnut finish.
I have tried using it with a stand paired with a Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad but love the keyboard and big trackpad that is built-in to the laptop too much. Using the laptop as a laptop is something I cherish.
As I mentioned in my Content with Technology post, I did contemplate getting a monitor and some fancy peripherals for this MacBook Air on my new desk. Ultimately though, I don’t want to spend the money, nor am I ready to stop using the MacBook Air as it is just yet.
Maybe lousy posture and ergonomics will force me to get something more, but for now, I love my minimal desk setup when I want to write, research, pay bills, or just browsing around the World Wide Web.
So though brief, that is my brand new Work From Home setup. I can’t imagine having a 4.0 anytime soon since I have pretty much replaced everything from the last setup.
What I do know is that I feel my new setup is more the style, function, and preferences that I have wanted for an at-home workstation. Now that I can sit or stand, alone, has been huge for my work productivity.
A couple other things worth mentioning that I have on my desk pretty often is the Theme System Notebook v2 and my yellow 24 oz. Hydro Flask. I reveiwed the first version of the Theme System Journal and talked about the new version in my 2021 Yearly Theme post. The Hydro Flask was a very much needed replacement from a water bottle I got from Costco, years ago, that was getting a bit narly.
Now that the holidays are over and my work is starting to get back to normal from a pretty crazy end of the year, I hope to utilize my new setup more for personal hobbies. I have a novel I still want to edit and publish, along with a ton more topics for Techuisite that I can’t wait to explore and write.
- Joking, of course.