Battlestations Everyone

Ben Blais Web Developer

I like working from home, probably good then that my employment is flexible enough for it to happen often. While at the company office, I mostly have whatever setup is provided by my employer. At home, I am able to customize my workstation within the limits of reality. Last week I decided to redo my setup.

Old Workstation

My first workstation was centered around my previous setup where I had a spare bedroom that I was using for an office. A few requirements popped up: cozy space, natural light, and physical stimulation, and three monitors.

Cozy Space

For me cozy means a small space with warm/earth tones and blankets; maybe some other things too, but this is the main stuff. A corner desk allows you to close up three of the four sides needed for making a small space.

Corner desks also allow you to have a second surface perpendicular to yourself, allowing you a convenient place for items that you will need while working. Having all your stuff in arms reach is one of the best things when you are in the zone. Not having to move allows you to maintain concentration.

Natural Light

This is a big one, having sunlight (or moonlight for my fellow night owls) has a positive effect on my mood. If I see the sun or moon while I am working, I will be happy, energized, and engaged. Having no natural light causes me to burn out quickly and I rarely ever do my best work then. I suspect this is the case for many people who have to spend a majority of their working hours looking at a screen.

Physical Stimulation

I can't sit still. I know I'm not the only person who feels this way, but for me this is probably one of the most frustrating things about my job. Previously I would tap my foot. The rate of my "tapping" though would cause other objects to vibrate and caused some disdain with my coworkers. Personally, I prefer not let my personal problems cause distress to those around me and exercise balls seemed like a way to mitigate it.

Result

My original setup consisted of a desktop tower (under the desk), three monitors, directly in front of one of the largest windows in my house, and and exercise ball to sit on.

New Build

Last week I decided to update my workstation as there were a few things I wanted to change. Much like my last build, I wanted the same three things: a cozy workspace, with light, and physical stimulation. While all my requirements remained the same, the implementation was refined and added to.

Cozy Worksapce

While I still like me a cozy workspace, my definition of cozy has changed a bit. While I still like feeling closed in, what Is much more important is being able to relax. This is why I now have a leather chair for lounging around in. Another thing that plays into this is making sure there is a lot of warm light for when I am working.

Comfy Light

I have a bit of a bias towards warm light. When working at night it helps to have something with some yellow undertones. This is especially important when there are all manner of blue lights. My last desk was also in a bit of a dark corner so now it feels less like I am working in the basement Barad-dûr.

Esthetic

Equally as important as lighting is decoration. Personally, the things that make me calm and happy are wood, leather, books and contrasts between light brown and black. There are many esthetics like this, but this one is mine.

Stand Up

Much like the exercise ball (which I still use when seated), a standing desk allows me provide an output for my pent up energy. Standing desks also grant variety in what can be done while working. I can stand if I am to antsy, and I can sit if I am to tired.

Thinking space

I would estimate that probably about 5-10% of my actual time is spent actually writing code and this is when my primary work is development. In my current design/architecture role, it's more like 1-2%. When I have to do some deep design work to do, I grab my mechanical pencil and a college ruled notebook; then I go sit in a nice chair some tea or coffee and think it through. Chairs like this are also nice for reading in my leisure time too.

I am sure that I will inevitably redo this setup again, but now I have a better and more comfortable workspace where I can feel relaxed and comfortable while working remote, or on personal projects.