Ever since COVID19 I’ve been working from home a lot. Usually I would just work from home when I needed to do something during working hours, for example: Bring the car to the shop for servicing. But as it looks now we will be working from home at least till the end of this year. Maybe even till the end of Q1 next year. My desk was a mess so that needed to change and along the way I decided to change other things also. In this post I’ll describe the steps I took to upgrade my setup. Along the way I also added a couple of general upgrades that I already did but might improve your home office.
Upgrade your display(s)
Most developers use multiple displays at the office or even have an ultrawide display. However when they work at home they just use the build in screen from their laptop or the small monitor that was stored in the attic. I’ve got two large (32″) AOC monitors. They also have a nice resolution of 2560×1440 so I have a lot of screen real estate when I need it. This is especially useful when working in in Visual Studio because it usually has a lot of small windows open that clutter my programming window.
Most modern displays have a resolution of 1920×1080 (FullHD) and 3840 × 2160 (4K). But another normal resolution for monitors is 2560×1440 (2K). I didn’t go for 4K screens because they are expensive and if you also have a normal desktop (for gaming and stuff) connected to it I needed to upgrade my videocard so I could game on 4k. This was too expensive for me. The difference between FullHd and 2K is big (for me) because I also went from a 24″ display to a 32″ display. As a developer my suggestion would be to not buy a 24″ display but go larger (27″ or even bigger). I would only suggest going 4k when your monitor size is >=32″. This however is a personal choice so your mileage may vary.
Mounting your displays
As a small addendum to the previous post, when you have your displays they take up a lot of space on your desk. If you have desk with enough room this is usually not a big problem. But when you want more space you should invest in a monitor arm for your display(s). They are also great if your monitor stand is to short and you need to move it higher for a good working position.They can be bought for about 30/60 euro online and are very easy to install. The only thing you have to watch out for is that your monitor has a VESA mount on it. VESA mounts are available in multiple sizes but most monitors use a 75×75 or 100×100 format.
Get a new office chair
After a couple of weeks I noticed that when I was working I could feel the plastic bottom of my office chair. This was a chair I got from an old job so it already was a decent quality however after being in use for 10+ years it started to show it’s age. However office chairs can be really expensive. When (if) you are at the office just google the price for the chair you currently have. A decent chair goes between 600/1500 euro which is a lot of money. However remember that you’ll be sitting about 40 hours a week on this chair. But not everybody wants to have a Herman miller big bucks chair like one below:
This one will cost you somewhere between 1000 and 1500 euro depending on options. You can also buy a cheaper model if you want but there is another alternative. There are a lot of companies that sell/refurbished used chairs. The only advice I would give is go see the chair that you want to buy in person. Then you can sit on it and decide if it’s right for you. This way you can spend a lot less money for a decent chair. I have the following minimum requirements for an office chair:
- Adjustable arm rests (up/down)
- A tilt tension function
- The ability to lengthen or shorten the seat area
Adjusting the height of the desk.
When you notice that your desk is to low. Just put some wooden blocks below the feet so that it is raised slightly. If you want to spend more money you can also buy a standing desk. A slightly cheaper option would be to just buy the standing desk frame and just reuse your existing desk surface (if possible).
Are you still using that old keyboard where the ctrl key sometimes doesn’t work? Buy a new decent one this is also true for your mouse (mat). If you have special gear at work(for example: to help against RSI) see if you can buy it or ask your manager if it’s okay to take it home temporarily.