Working from Home from Here

My Home Office

In the spirt of sharing as a remedy to isolation, I thought I’d share a peek at my home office, the space where I’m spending virtually every hour of my days since we were all forced to start working remotely just a few short weeks ago. It’s an L-shaped desk in the front room of the bottom floor of our house in Brooklyn. In the picture above one of my boys is sitting adjacent to my seat, on a video call with his teacher.

I count myself lucky to have the space to dedicate to an office, and also lucky to genuinely enjoy being there. There are many downsides to being more or less confined to our own homes but having this working area just a flight of stairs away from my family is actually a huge joy for me.

Plus, this office has all of my stuff; the equipment and the books and the gadgets that help me feel creative and stay focused. I’ve never really been one of those people who could work productively for hours at a time at coffee shops because I really just needed all my paraphernalia around me and arranged just so in order to really get in the zone. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s here, in case you’re looking for tips for your own WFH setup as well.

My Home Office Desk
  1. My main computer is this 27-inch, Retina 5K iMac from 2017. I’m actually not a fan of laptops and would much prefer having a huge, stationary monitor and the horsepower of an iMac and rely on an iPad for computing on the go.
  2. I’ve got a ton of peripherals attached to this iMac too, including a Kensington Expert Mouse trackball and an Apple Magic Keyboard; I find that switching back and forth eases repetitive strain on my wrists. I’ve also got a Matias Wireless Aluminum Keyboard which connects to up to four devices via Bluetooth, very handy for the other computers that I have to add to this mix occasionally. Also essential but hidden in this picture is a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M document scanner, an essential tool for getting rid of paper clutter.
  3. I also use this aging 13-inch, Retina MacBook Pro from 2015 as essentially a dedicated video conferencing station. It’s hooked up to a Jabra Speak 410 which is exceptionally loud and clear as a conferencing speaker and microphone. With so much going on in the house these days though, I usually use the Jabra just as a mic and plug in my Sony MDR-V6 over-the-ear headphones (still the best sounding headphones out there for my money) as a speaker instead. The laptop is propped up on a Bent Ply Laptop Stand, a really beautiful design originally created by Eric Pfeiffer for Evernote many years ago (I bought it as a remaindered sale item when Evernote realized they had no business selling office hardware). Since the laptop is elevated by the stand I use a Logitech MX Ergo wireless trackball as a mouse with it.
  4. We’re a Google Home household and I keep a Google Home Mini on my desk for, among other functions, the broadcast feature, which allows all the similar devices in the house to act as an intercom system. It’s great for not having to yell between floors to get someone else’s attention.
  5. When it’s warm out, I use this surprisingly effective Lasko 4000 Air Stik oscillating fan to cool off. Directly under that spot of the desk, hidden from view, is a small Honeywell Uberheat ceramic space heater for use during cooler weather. Since it’s usually just me on the floor where my office is, these save me a ton on HVAC bills.
  6. I keep this Page-a-Day New Words Calendar on my desk, and every morning I tear off another sheet like a nerd but I relish it. Today’s word (as I write this) is auriferous.
  7. A few years ago I decided to upgrade our house to mesh wi-fi hardware and chose the Netgear Orbi system for the fact that unlike many other mesh wi-fi systems, it’s not centrally managed by its manufacturer. I keep this Orbi Satellite node here to extend the network throughout this floor and it works great.
  8. This 2016 MacBook Pro is my official work laptop. Usually of course it’s at the office but I took it with me when we were all asked to work from home. I hardly ever touch it though, as it’s practically redundant with the other devices I already have at home. Plus it’s only got USB-C ports which I still find to be irritating.
  9. Many years ago I sprang for this Herman Miller Aeron chair when I spotted it on sale. I’m generally skeptical of the promises of office chair ergonomics but I haven’t found a better built chair than this one.
  10. This dark object tucked under the desk is a paper shredder. If it’s not obvious I’m pretty enthusiastic about getting rid of paper.
  11. Usually when there’s not a pandemic on, I use this Baron Fig Roamer Tote as my work bag. But even without the daily commute, I still find this bag super handy for transporting tech gear within the house, as I sometimes find myself working from other rooms when someone in the family needs to use the office for privacy.
  12. Obscured slightly behind the chair here is my 11-inch iPad Pro from 2018, attached to a Brydge Pro keyboard. I always keep it handy and given the choice it would be my preferred computer. I’ll also occasionally use it as a secondary monitor for the iMac via macOS’s excellent Sidecar feature.
  13. Yes we still have a house phone line! Actually it’s a VOIP line from Vonage, connected to a VTech DECT handset system. It’s much clearer sounding than cell phones (I hate talking on cell phones) and it’s free to call our family overseas.
  14. When I get a break from video calls I like to play music from my Mac through these Creative Labs Gigaworks bookshelf speakers (the right speaker is at the far end of the shelf). Being able to play music out loud is one of the best perks of working from home.

You can find virtually everything on this list to buy for yourself somewhere—except the L-shaped desk itself. That and the shelves installed in that little nook above my seat were built for me not long after we moved into this house by a carpenter I found via a friend’s referral. The guy was a real artist with wood; not only did he custom fit these items to the exact dimensions of this particular space, but he built in all kinds of amazing details to the pieces. You can see how the legs of the desk actually include vertical storage; the drawers open and close with complete silence; towards the back of the desk he drilled 1-1/2 inch holes for cables that lead to a hidden raceway where wires can be threaded and hidden.

This carpenter was also an impeccable craftsman; every edge lines up perfectly and even after seven years of regular use, not a single edge has chipped or a single part has broken. I keep referring to him in the past tense because unfortunately not long after finishing this project he left the custom carpentry business altogether. (So unfortunately I can’t refer friends in search of a carpenter to him.) Still, the abundant care and craftsmanship with which he invested this setup is one of the reasons it’s such a pleasure to sit here, day in and day out. Not that i wouldn’t prefer getting back out into the rest of the world, mind you.