I’m lucky to still be working and earning in the midst of the pandemic. But as no one can tell how long the pandemic would last, it’s best to accept that we’ll be in here longer than we want, and make adjustments to make the ride as comfortable as possible.
Our home isn’t the best place for me to work, but it’s sufficient. For the first few months of the pandemic, I was riding it out like it was a temporary thing—something that could be over in a month or two. But as things never got better and instead constantly got worse, I realized that there’s no turning back to the world before COVID-19—this really is the new normal and either your drive the situation or let the situation drive you!
I’ve been working on a seven-year-old, 13-inch laptop with a broken keyboard, faulty mouse, and a barely working internet connection for the first few months of the community quarantine. I was really just passing each day as they come. I didn’t even entertain having office equipment delivered at home from to office because I won’t have anywhere to place them in my room. Until one day, our employer offered us an option to reimburse us (to a certain amount) for office equipment that we’d purchase to help us in our work from home setup. It’s a simple gesture that I really appreciated, and it kicked off a lot more things.
Using my experience in laying out and designing my studio unit, I took measurements of my room and figured that I can make adjustments to accommodate the new equipment. I haven’t had any major changes done in my room in about a decade so it was a pretty exciting project outside of work (albeit related to it)! The budget I got from my employer was enough to cover a good table and chair.
I could say that the table I got was really good as it gave me an assurance that I can really make working from home not only comfortable but also desirable. There’s really nothing spectacular about it, it’s not even made of solid wood, but’s easily one of the most stable table I’ve ever had. It even beats the artisanal tables I commissioned for my condo that costs five times more!
Having a space where I can comfortably work triggered my mind on how to make things even better. I started considering having some of our office equipment brought home, but then I realized that I’ve not had a decent computer since I gave up my desktop over a decade ago—it may not be the best time to spend but it would be a great help if I do. I’ve always settled for things that are “good enough” since most of time I’m in the office working and don’t have much time to do personal things. For the sake of my sanity in the midst of all the bad news in the midst of the pandemic, I made an “insane” decision to spend for myself.
The first equipment I bought were a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I wanted to simulate the dual monitor setup we have in the office without buying two monitors so I got an ultrawide one with 21:9 aspect ratio. It’s still cheaper to buy two separate monitors, but I figured I probably deserve to have a modern equipment after depriving myself for more than a decade. And as I only have a few USB slots on my work laptop, I got a wireless keyboard and mouse combo that uses a single USB receiver.
And then I realized I still have my speakers from my desktop computer days. Fortunately, they still work after years of neglect! My subwoofer is a bit grounded though so I may consider upgrading them much later if my budget would suffice.
I could’ve stopped right there, but then there’s the issue of comfort. If working in the office may lead to some injury, working from home could be worse if ergonomics is not considered. I’m glad that I learned quite a lot with this topic from our employer and that was the next phase of my project! I was planning to hold it off for later but as I saw myself working much longer at home than in the office, my discomfort with my initial setup was concerning so I took the online sale events as opportunities to expedite the process.
As of the time of writing, I already installed my monitor onto a gas lift mount so I can raise it at my ideal height and this in turn allowed me to raise my seat so that my keyboard is also at an ideal height. I placed all my laptops under the table to create a clutter-free tabletop. I also got a basic webcam for those office meetings where it’s a must to be seen so they don’t ever need to go tabletop. I’m still waiting for my ergonomic mouse and am seriously considering replacing my keyboard (mechanical or slim?). I also have an under-the-table cable management project coming up to make things much more organized.
Having an organized and ergonomic work from home setup helps a lot in reducing my stress. I think if I had done things differently and settled for only what I needed my state of mind would be much different. Surely, this project is expensive but if it will help with your physical or mental health, I think it’s worth it. It’s not bad to treat yourself sometimes especially when you’re working hard, and most especially if you can afford it!