By Jason Snell
May 30, 2020 9:36 AM PT
Working from home, take two
I’ve been spending a lot of time in my garage.
Nearly seven years ago, I set up a “work from home” space that was also a hedge against the possibility that I would be quitting my job and working from home full time. For the last five and a half years, it’s been my full-time workspace. But after five years working full-time in a space originally conceived of as a temporary refuge, I decided it was time to revisit and rebuild based on everything I’ve learned over the past years.
At the center of the whole thing was my desk. Back in 2013 I bought a 36- by 30-inch VertDesk electric sit/stand desk from Beyond The Office Door. It was adequate, but I decided I really wanted something bigger and better. I bought a 60-inch-wide Uplift V2 and spent extra to get a desktop made of reclaimed fir. It’s gorgeous. The more reclaimed wood in my life, the better.
In terms of accessories, I got Uplift’s bamboo keyboard tray with their quick-adjust mechanism, which makes it easy to raise or lower the tray to the right height. The desktop is drilled with two grommet holes, and I recently installed a gadget with two power outlets and two USB ports in one of them, because I found myself constantly reaching under my desk or stringing a cable across my floor in order to temporarily plug in various gadgets.
I originally set up my desk with an external display mounted on an adjustable arm. Now I use an iMac Pro (it’s VESA mountable!), but I’m still using that same Right Angle Hover Series 2 arm and it’s still serving me well. I can adjust my iMac to be taller or shorter, depending on whether I’m standing or sitting, and I can push it away entirely if I’m working on something using the top of the desk. Tucked into the recessed metal area where the mounting arm connects to the iMac is a 1TB SSD, which I use to back up my iMac Pro every day via SuperDuper.
There’s a lot of action on the underside of the desk, so I can keep cable clutter off the desktop and out of sight. The cables that do connect to the iMac run down the mounting arm and into the one remaining grommet hole. There’s a bus-powered USB 3.0 hub on the underside of my desk, connected to my keyboard, trackpad and CyberPower UPS. There’s also a power strip mounted under the desk, providing power to the iMac, my speakers (the iPod Hi-Fi is still getting it done!), the desk itself, the grommet power supply, and other stuff.
I’ve also hidden the USB audio box I use for podcasting under my desk. I tried for years to mount it with velcro tape, but that never worked. Now I use a metal under-desk mount designed for a tiny PC. My microphone remains mounted to the side of my desk via a simple spring-loaded support arm.
The current residents of my keyboard tray are the Vortex Race 3 mechanical keyboard with Cherry Brown switches, and a Magic Trackpad 2. The Trackpad can function wirelessly, but since it never leaves my keyboard tray, I’ve decided to keep it plugged in so I never have to charge it. I recently bought some silicone stickers to place on the bottom of the keyboard so it will stay in one place on the smooth bamboo tray.
I’m still using my same Aeron chair for sitting, and a standing mat when I stand. When I set up the office I bought a 10-foot-by-12-foot carpet remnant from a local store along with a carpet pad, and that’s been a great decision—the carpet definitely makes the entire space feel like an office—something the cold, hard concrete that lurks underneath never could. I also bought some curtains and mounting rods on Amazon to separate my workspace from the rest of the garage, which is used for storage.
And my old desk, which we were going to give away, lives on: Back in March we hauled it into our living room near the front door, where it now serves as my wife’s work-from-home desk. It was too small for me, but it fits perfectly and gives her a workspace to call her own. And my new workspace has been a great upgrade, not just because of the extra room on the top of the desk but because of my efforts to hide as much stuff as possible on the underside of the desk, keeping clutter to a minimum.