Behind the Desk: Breaking Down My $4,700 WFH Workspace
Personalizing Productivity: One Set Of Choices, Costs, and Comforts For A Home Office Setup
I've always been curious about other people's homework setups. Whenever I visited a friend, I'd ask about their workspace. What drove them to choose those particular items? How do these selections enhance their daily routines?
I will take this post to share my own home workstation setup and why I chose certain items. I also realized I had spent about $4,700 on my setup. Are there some in this that you cannot live without? Some that are totally not your thing?
Big Picture - What Does The Workstation Look Like?
I set up a home workspace or office to enable working from home as a solopreneur. I have enhanced it every few months. Let’s look at the big picture, starting with the front view.
Desk: Sit-stand Fully Jarvis
To kick things off, let's talk about the backbone of any workstation - the desk. I have the Fully Jarvis desk with extended lifting column and programmable height memory. It is 120cm x 80cm, which was the smallest I could get, but feels pretty large in an Irish house. I had to get the extended lifting column so that its lowest height suits my short legs.
I love alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes. Helps me feel less sedentary.
Laptop: Lenovo X1 Yoga
I choose the Lenovo X1 Yoga because it is a robust, lightweight Windows laptop with touchscreen and stylus support. I like to handwrite notes and drawings, but want the convenience of searching for the notes anywhere I go. I've found this feature invaluable. I prefer Windows because it is easier to customize, there are more free Windows software options, and it works better with Android. I've been loyal to this series of custom-built business laptops since 2016.
Monitor: Samsung Curved Monitor
I had a lower resolution, smaller screen monitor for years. The Samsung 4K 32-inch massive curved monitor was more of an impulsive decision fueled by a pandemic subsidy rather than actual necessity. In 2020, I already had a well-functioning WFH setup, so I thought I would never find any use for the WFH perks offered by my employer. I could only think of splurging on a hi-tech monitor to make the best of that perk budget. Do we always need to splurge on the fanciest gear, or is simpler sometimes better?
Since Spring 2020, I’ve spend $1,000s more on my WFH setup. I took an impulsive decision but that wasn’t the best one, in hindsight.
I like using only one monitor, not two. I like the focus of one display and the implicit single-threading work. I don’t want to be tempted to multi-task with multiple monitors.
Webcam: Logitech C925e
I use the Logitech C925e webcam. I bought a more expensive logistic webcam in summer 2023, with a wider field of view (FOV). Although wider FOV is considered a feature, but it was a bug for me. I realized I had optimized my office background - wallpaper, trophies, the desk placement, and decor for a narrower field of view. Whereas, with the wider field of view, things I didn't want in the video frame were visible. My smart lighting created spot lighting on me. Now, with the wider FOV, it felt artificial. So I returned that and stuck with my narrow field-of-view camera, the Logitech C925e. I made a video about it as well.
Blue Yeti Mic, Kinesis Keyboard, Foot Pedals, And Vertical Mouse
I have the Kinesis Advantage 360 keyboard. I bought it as an ergonomic solution because I had wrist pain from typing. I have the Logitech MX Vertical mouse. I also have a foot pedal to press Ctrl and Shift without moving my fingers.
I wrote more about the mic, keyboard, foot pedal, and mouse need, testing, purchase, and learning curve in this post.
Under-Desk Tray And Laptop Riser
I purchased an under-desk tray from Amazon. It ensures that my keyboard is at the right level for optimal comfort of my hands. Did you know the top of your monitor should align with your eyes, and your keyboard with your elbows? Often overlooked, but these ergonomic details make a world of difference.
I got an adjustable laptop riser to bring the top of laptop display at the same height as the external monitor. Recently, I stopped laptop as a second screen as
It encourages multi-tasking
Text on the laptop screen looks small and far away, so makes it squint or hunch my back forward.
Bose And Poly Plantronics Headsets: The Sound Of Productivity
I have the Bose QC35 Quiet Comfort noise-cancellation headphones. I got it as a gift from my mentor at Cisco after completing my first project, as a token of appreciation. I find it perfect for those deep focus sessions. However, it does have its limitations, especially when it comes to keyboard noise during calls. It doesn’t have noise-cancellation in its microphones so it picks up a lot of extraneous sounds.
I also got to keep the Poly Plantronics Voyager headset I got at Cisco as part of my equipment. I find that super handy for clearer voice calls, especially when I'm multitasking like typing or tackling household chores. It’s noise-cancellation in its mic is amazing. Out of the world.
Backbone, Behind The Scenes
You'll see a few more items behind my monitor.
1 - One is a USB hub with a KVM switch.
2 - Another is an HDMI splitter.
Both of these allow me to switch between 2 laptops. For example, when I have a work laptop and a personal laptop.
3 and 4 - With 203 internet-connected devices in my home, networking is crucial. My laptop has hard-wired ethernet CAT6 cabling from the router and the powerful Asus Zenwifi ET12 Pro acts as a switch and a WiFi access point in my office space. I’ve invested a lot of money and time into my smart home and the network connectivity at home. Stay tuned for a deep dive into this topic in an upcoming blog.
5 - All of these devices lead to many cables, which I manage using Cable Tidy boxes like this from Amazon and another from Ikea. I also needed under-desk cable organizers and a headphone holder. Several power extendors, too, like this, this, and this.
6 - I also have a heating pad to warm my coffee or tea for 1-2 hours. Simple joys!
7 - We talked about a mic, but I also have a tiny speaker. I started using it for my laptop because the fans in my office space are pretty loud, so I cannot hear music or speech from my laptop speaker.
Automated Lighting Using Home Assistant, Hue, Trådfri
I have a high desk lamp with a 9 smart light. All the other lights in the room are also wireless controlled. I use Home Assistant to enable controlling the lights using a (Philips Hue) remote, phone, voice commands, a motion sensor, or a vibration sensor. Using smart lighting, I can change lighting from warm lighting in the evening to energizing light in the day time. I can change it to minimize glare during work and maximize the spotlight during meetings or recordings.
Automatic Temperature Control: Heating, Fan, And Blinds
I use two simple tower fans from Brandson and some brand off Amazon. I made them remotely controllable via automation using Broadlink IR blast (RM3 mini), smart plug from Meross, and a tp-link smart plug. If my office is hot and I’m in the office, the fans automatically turn on. If no one is in the room, the fans turn off.
I have battery-powered Somfy blinds that can be remotely opened or closed. The blinds open when there is sun, but it isn’t too hot outside. The blinds close when it is too hot outside, when it is evening, or when the sun has set.
I have the Tado smart Thermostatic valve. I’ve set it to keep me warm during work hours, but not heat the room when I’m not around.
Costing - How Does The EUR 4,331 Breakdown?
I used Linkclump, substack, ChatGPT, and a VA to parse out my writing above into links and their costs. That helps me see my costs.
I spent a large chunk of the total EUR 6,757 on the laptop. I spent EUR 4,331 on the setup excluding the laptop, which is approximately USD 4,700.
I was gifted my headphones, so I didn’t need to spend those EUR 507. My former employer gave me a EUR 460 subsidy on the monitor and about EUR 700 on the furniture.
I didn’t realize I had spent so much. I wonder how long till my spouse notices the same. But I like the workspace, find it optimal, organized, and efficient.
Don't you think investing in a well-thought-out home workspace is crucial for today's professionals? What were your top 3 purchases for your home office?