Working from home (COVID-19 style)

Date: 12.08.2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out I’d just become father for the second time and my study at home had been converted to a nursery.

So when my employer said we’d all have to start working from home on a regular basis, I didn’t even have a desk.

I started working from the dining-table. After a few days I realized that this was going to last a while, so I ran out and bought a portable 15,6 monitor to match my laptop.

It was OK for a few weeks, but I needed a dedicated desk, so we converted the nursery to a nursery/office. It didn’t work very well in the long run so this summer we rearranged the rooms in our house and now I have a propper desk, still combinded as a nursery, but now in a bigger room that works as a combined room for at least a couple of years.

When you set up an office at home there are a few things you should think about to make it a “happy place”. Here are my top five things to consider when you set up your office at home.

Monitor arm (and a monitor)

If you use a laptop (like most people), you should have an external monitor. Working on a small laptop screen fulltime eight hours a day is not good for your eyes, neck or productivity. 24 inches is a minimum (that’s what I have), bigger than 27 is just show-off.

But here comes the important part: Don’t settle for that ugly plastic foot that most monitors come with. Get yourself a propper monitor arm. Yes, it costs from €50 and upwards and it requires a bit of work to set up, but it’s so worth it! The adjustability and the clean desk (cables hidden inside the arm) makes all the difference.

Just go for it, trust me!

Laptop stand (if you have a laptop)

The laptop is a perfect “second screen” where you put Outlook, Slack or whatever application you need to keep an eye on, but not focus on, but for the sake of your eyes and neck, get it up from the desk, at least 10-15 cm.

You can do this with a good laptop stand, or just by adding a bunch of good looking books under it.

A bonus is that if you use your laptop webcam for online meetings, you now look a lot more professional as you no longer look down at the camera, but straight into it.

A good keyboard that looks cool

OK, here is where I go full on nerd. A good looking keyboard does not directly boost your productivity or anything, but it will make it more fun typing away!

Personally I have a very custom mechanical keyboard. I started off by purchasing a quite cheap mechanical keyboard that got good reviews for it’s typing qualities, but bad reviews for it’s looks.

I then changed all the keycaps on it to make it look (almost) just how I wanted it and I ordred special keycaps and stickers on eBay to make it unique and to have a “Superman vs Batman” theme.

I love my keyboard now, I love how it looks, the feel of the keys and the sound they make when I type on it (not recommended for shared workspaces).

Quality chair

Those three things are the most important things related to the tech when working from home, according to me.

Equally important is a good, quality chair to sit in. When spending eight hours a day sitting in front of a montior, you need a good chair. That being said, it doesn’t nessesarily need to be a typical “office chair”. A cheap way of getting a good chair is to buy a so-called “gaming chair”.

Gaming equipment in general is usually very good, headsets, keyboards, mice, desks and chairs.

Personally I use a Wire Chair DKW designed by Charles & Ray Eames in 1951. This is not by any means an “office chair”, but I find it so comfortable to use, it supports my back perfectly and it looks smashing. It makes me want to sit (and type on my georgeous keyboard).

Good lighting

Finally you’ll want some good lighting. It’s stops your eyes from hurting, it’s a reason all offices are bright with lots of lights.

I use a minimal LED lamp from Xiaomi where I can adjust the brightness and color temperature just as I want it depending on the time of day and how much daylight I get through the windows.

Still working from home

Here in Norway the government is urging everybody that can to continue working from home and practicing social distancing for at least a few more months, most probably until Christmas.

Taking public transportation is recommended to be avoided. I live at the end of one of the longest subways here in Oslo, and it get quite packed in the rush hour, so I try to avoid it completely.

I go to the office a couple of days a week with my electric scooter, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be mostly working from home until I go out on paternity leave in november (paid leave for 15 weeks).

It's a 12 km ride and it takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic. I only ride to work on days when the weather forcast is dry weather, riding an electric scooter in rain is not recommended ;-)

So making sure that my desk at home is ergonomically good and a positive place to hang out for many hours a day is very important, for both body and mind.