I started working from home in my early twenties.
We had four guys in a four-bedroom apartment near the beach in San Diego. You can probably picture the scene: dirty dishes stacked above the faucet, beer took up most of the fridge, and quarters were the hottest commodity on laundry day.
I wasn’t exactly focused on building a nice work environment. I threw out a fold-out table (likely purchased for beer pong), bought a used office chair, and posted up in the hallway near the pop-a-shot basketball hoop.
Ahh, there it is.
Here’s a good picture of what it felt like to work in that environment.
It took a few years for me to care about my home office setup.
Now in my thirties – I’m married with two kids, both of us parents working from home – the home office environment is just a bit more important. We need a good space where we can think (and be professional on video calls).
After just under a decade of working from home, I finally feel pretty good about the equipment we have to make a nice home office setup. Here’s the list.
1) Desk: Jarvis Laminate Standing Desk ($470)
I love this desk. It’s high quality, simple and clean looking, and goes up and down with the push of a button. If you have the budget, it’s great. However, it is heavy (it’s quality), and I’m sure a hand crank adjustable desk would work just fine.
2) Chair: Ashville Mesh Task Chair ($100)
I don’t have much of an opinion on this chair. It gets the job done and has held up for about three years now, so I’d say it’s worth it. It’s just that 1) I stand half the day, 2) I’ve had a number of chairs and have never really formed an opinion except for really bad ones, and 3) I don’t have back problems so just about everything chair-wise has worked so far.
3) Laptop: 15-inch Macbook PrO, 2014 (Starting at $1,300)
I’ve done the PC thing and I’ve done the Mac thing. I’m a Mac guy now. I’ve had this computer for almost seven years and it still runs like new. I never had a PC that did that. I won’t go into detail here because you can find much better write ups on the internet (like here, for example).
4) Display/Monitor: Mac Thunderbolt Display (STARTING AT $800, Refurbished)
5) Keyboard & Mouse: Apple Magic Keyboard ($90) & Magic Mouse ($70)
I’ve had a wireless keyboard and mouse for years. I’ll even travel with them depending on how long we’re going away for. The wireless piece is nice and helps to keep your desk clean, but the real value of a wireless keyboard and mouse is for video conferencing. In order to look good on video, you need to get a few feet back from your camera and have the camera higher than your head. It’s just a better angle. A wireless keyword (not connected to your laptop or computer) helps to solve that.
6) Laptop stand: Roost ($90)
This is a great product. Like I said in #5, it’s important to lift the camera for video calls. The laptop stand helps with this and so you’re not constantly looking down all day and putting pressure on your neck. It’s lightweight, collapsible, durable and great for travel.
7) Microphone: Blue Yeti USB ($90)
I have this for podcasting and video creation. I don’t use it simply for video calls. So, if you’re not creating content then you likely don’t need this.
8) Video conference background: Anyvoo ($250)
Even with all of the sweet tech I have in #1 – 7, Anyvoo this is the best tool I have. It’s essentially the way to be present professionally while working from home. Just like you probably wouldn’t show up to visit a client’s office in a tank top, you don’t want to have dirty dishes or an unmade bed on a client video call.
The frame sets up easily and sits on a tripod stand. The backdrop is made of essentially the same thing as work out gear – like yoga pants or gyms shorts. It’s really stretchy and doesn’t wrinkle. So if you choose a wood-panel backdrop, it won’t blow in the wind or pick up wrinkles in a few weeks.
Here’s my team at Nectafy, the growth content agency I work for. We all have Anyvoos. It’s a little better than what you’ve been seeing on your video calls, isn’t it?
Corny? Yes. But it’s true. I’ve read a handful of great books that have helped me specifically because I work from home and for a fully remote company. I asked 29 people who work from home about their best book for working remotely, and wrote this blog post, if you’re interested. These are my favorites:
- Remote: Office Not Required By, Jason Fried
- 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People By, Stephen Covey
- The 4-Hour Workweek By, Tim Ferriss
- Deep Work By, Cal Newport
Looking for some other useful resources about working remotely?
- Here’s a sortable list of 60+ remote work software tools for your distributed team
- Here are the 29 books for your home office shelf