Changing things up while working from home

For the last month and some change, my wife has been working from home as a teacher. The transition has been tough, but she seems to be getting her feet under her. This is the first time that she has spent any serious time in our office, which consist of a Windows desktop I built late last year, and a MacBook Air that we keep tuckered under a monitor stand. She has been able to take advantage of our not-so-fancy webcam and mic (that I was using mostly for streaming video games) for her many meetings, and has gotten compliments on how good she looked and sounded.

One thing that having both of us working from home has done is made us reconsider the tools that we use everyday. We knew that our priorities were going to change, and having a setup that could easily switch between Mac and Windows would be a priority. It’s honestly nice having a desktop down here that we can pug the microphone and webcam too easily, as well as a machine that can access the handful of Windows apps we use on a regular basis. I do most of my work on Mac because I really love writing in Ulysses, using Tweetbot for social media, and having apps like iMessage, Calendar, and Mail with me at all times. So right now the basic setup we have looks like this:

Still very much a work in progress

When I built the Windows PC I also purchased a very click mechanical keyboard. I have to admit that I got caught up in the hype of mechanical keyboards without every trying one for myself, and after a couple of months I came to realize that I was not all that accurate on the old school, uber-clicky keys, and my wife did not like how much of a racket they caused when she was trying to multitask during meetings. I’ve also come to really hate the RGB glow that pretty much every gaming peripheral comes standard with with these days. So while we are keeping the Razor Death Adder mouse I bought years ago for playing games, we also decided to purchase a Logitech mouse that can switch between computers easily. The new keyboard is a Logitech MX Master Keys, a low profile keyboard that can also switch between multiple devices, and in the first couple of hours typing on it I can already tell the experience is going to be great.

The other big change we’ve made to the setup is nixing the second monitor, which took up a ton of space on the desk, without actually adding much in the way of productivity. Right now we are using a 27 inch, 1080p monitor that sacrifices IQ for a high refresh rate. Now that we spend so much time down here working in word documents and staring at peoples faces, I’m starting to wonder if switching to a 4k or 5k display may be the way to go.

There are other little touches we want to add to the office in the coming months. We have already ordered a desk pad that will replace the god awful mouse pad I got when I purchased a prebuilt PC from CyberPower that only lasted about a week before it was sent back. We would also like to add some extra shelving down here and put up a couple more pictures and posters after we put a new coat of paint on the walls. Functionally this space will probably not change much for the rest of out lockdown. I love getting to a place in my workspace that I no longer have to think about the tools that I’m using everyday, and just look forward to getting into my work without a lot of distractions, and I think we are almost there.

Just for comparison, here’s a pic of how the setup was for the past six months or so:

Six months ago I wanted a setup that would be great for playing games, and would also work fine for productivity. These days our office is used for about 90% productivity/10% gaming, which is a combination of Theresa working down here and myself having more time to work on writing projects that were on-hold until Summer Break. This office has really become a refuge for my wife and I. It’s a place where we can both come to and feel a sense of purpose in our work, or just get away from our two-year-old for while. I’m happy with the changes we’ve made to this space so far, and look forward to the work that will get done down here in the coming months.