Corona flattens out a bit and companies are diligently upgrading hardware and software to help remotely work better. Many of you are safely in the home office, and for a large number, this type of work is certainly new and you are now starting to set up a home office.

I have been working regularly in the home office for 5 years. Of these, almost 100% of the first 2 years in the home office and the last years always 2 days a week. Especially in the first few years, I set up a dedicated home office and constantly improved it. I would like to give an insight in this article. Normally I recommend my own study (especially with family) but I live in a penthouse apartment without doors, so I have a work niche.

Believe me: one day a week or month home office at the kitchen table is ok but with constant home office no solution. They are usually less productive and get back pain in the long run. As a rule, your employer must comply with special health and safety guidelines to protect you who are not monitored at home. So protect yourself! If you want to know how I work with the presented equipment, there is a reading tip.

Reading tip: How I work in the home office

Large screen and plenty of space

First and most importantly, you need a tidy desk with plenty of space and a large screen or just 2 screens. I myself prefer the big screen of the iMac. The important thing is that you don’t sit in the middle of chaos and feel comfortable at your desk. That’s why I have as little as possible on my desk.

My iMac with large screen helps to open various browser windows

Chair, light and ergonomics

The second is the equipment of the desk. I have paid particular attention to ergonomics with regard to work equipment. After all, your hands are the most important tools and you should spare them. I have an ergonomic mouse and keyboard that is easy to use. It is worth spending some money here to spare the bones and tendons.

An ergonomic mouse and keyboard spare bones and tendons

Furthermore, I bought a stable and comfortable chair. You sit up to 8h and should definitely not save here in the wrong place. Sitting 40h a week is generally a tricky thing. To prevent my floor from breaking, I have a mat under the chair for the floor. I like to go to the sofa or the balcony for a phone call in the apartment to get some variety.

Desk chair with suitable mat for floor protection

Furthermore, you should have sufficient light. I bought a nice lamp with a Phillips Hue bulb. So I can adjust various light effects, colors and intensities to always save my eyes meaningfully.

The Phillips Hue makes different lights for relaxed and concentrated work. I use the different settings depending on the work package and mood

Meetings and video conferencing

I have between 4 and 6 hours of video conferencing and phone calls per day. For this it is important to be well equipped. Of course, your laptop or Mac has a camera and a headset. However, this usually sounds like a tin box and the quality of the camera is usually not the best. So I bought a good microphone next to a webcam. There are great capacitor microphones on Amazon that make your voice very clear. The USB microphones are easy to plug in and it will work. You do your listeners like it and you understand it well. Currently I also try to get the sound to recording studio quality and try out an audio interface with studio microphone, as I may still be considering making a podcast.

A USB condenser microphone provides perfect sound in the video conference

Since April 2020 I no longer use the USB microphone but a capacitor microphone with USB audio interface. While the USB microphone has a very good sound, switch to studio quality now. Thanks to the audio interface, the sound is recorded almost like a mixing console and the significantly better condenser microphone provides a clearer sound. By comparison, the set costs about 200 euros and the USB model only 40-60 euros.

My audio set for a studio quality in the video and conference call

Another tip: Pay attention to the background. It is best to sit down on a neutral background. You can see what’s in the background. Even life partners should not walk through the background. Here, too, some embarrassing situations have arisen and please: Always wear trousers! Furthermore, it is important to remember the following: Do not forget “muten” (silence). You can hear the typing of keyboard, flow of water, toilet flush and coffee maker via the microphone. Watch out! Many professionals have already been very embarrassed here.

Me in the home office. Be sure to have a neutral background. Personally, I always find a bookshelf in the background very good

A great alternative, which I only use for making calls, are Bluetooth headsets. I use the Jabra Evolve 75, which has an active noise reduction also for the caller. It is designed for very noisy open-plan offices. You can also walk around the apartment or tap on the keyboard without anyone noticing. It’s great that you can connect the headset to 2 devices (smartphone and PC) and can easily perform telcos and conferences.

The Jabra headset with mount has a battery life of almost 1 week and reduces annoying noise for the caller

Storage

Let’s not fool ourselves: Shadow IT also has its existence in the home office. Especially when your company has weak infrastructure, e.g. cumbersome log-in to SharePoint, employees use their own hard drives. In addition to a Raspberry PI with ownCloud, I also have a Synology NAS to store data securely in my own cloud. Both clouds are completely secured against data loss and encrypted by 2 hard drives. Since I now work with a File/Sync/Share provider, I only use Synology privately.

A Synology NAS with 2 Raspberry PI for the security of your own data. All cables are well packed in a cable box.

Helpers and decoration

Finally, in this section, I would like to give some tips for helpers and decoration scares to increase productivity and well-being. First of all, I recommend putting a plant on your desk. If you don’t have enough light at your desk, a plant lamp will help out.

A plant makes for something green from the table

I still like to use an Alexa to listen to music, turn on my lamp and as an assistant for reminders and calculators etc. I can handle it well now and find it useful. I particularly like the function to stop music by language when someone calls me or when typing to change the song.

I also have a pack of candy for the neck to stand on my desk. By talking on the phone, you should also spare your neck a little.

An Alexa and a pack of neck candies helps in everyday life

So that it doesn’t look like herb and turnips I bought another cable box so that it looks neat. You can use it to merge and hide cables in a meaningful way. Tip: This is the XL version for 2 connector strips. There is also a small version for 1 connector strips.

With a cable box, plug strips can be hidden and it does not look chaotic and no structural measures are necessary.

Finally, a little tip from the analogue time: I always have a note and pen on my desk to write down information or tasks directly so that I don’t forget them. You know this: someone tells you something and 1 minute later you forget it. So that no one else can see this and other documents, I have a shredder.

Old school but still indispensable: Zettel and Sift

Conclusion

In this article I showed you my home office. In addition to good and ergonomic equipment, technical aids such as a good microphone and decoration such as a plant are also important to me. The ultimate point is to sit healthy and also feel mentally comfortable in your own home office. I recommend home office as an opportunity to see a workplace the way you want it to be.

Finally, a good approach for variety in the meeting: try to meet with colleagues in virtual reality (VR). I’ve tested it for you!

Reading Tip: VR Meetings in Test

Image source: own photos

Gender note: I have used the male form for easier reading. If no explicit distinction is made, women, miscellaneous and men as well as people of any origin and nation are always meant. Read more.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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