Ace Dimasuhid

@acedimasuhid

Setting up for Success: Remote Workstation

While the flagship image of remote working will always be the nomads, a good portion prefer staying in one place day-in and day-out (exhibit A: me). In those cases, there’s no better way to set your set oneself up to success than having a good remote work setup.

Strategy

A generally good starting point in optimising your setup is to have a set of values you’d like to align with. In the office, workstation is designed to cater with the company’s goals. In your remote setting, you have much more freedom to choose which goals you prefer to pursue.

To give you an example, here’s the values I’m optimising for:

  • productivity
  • minimal distractions
  • minimal decision-making

Since remote working is all about output, productivity and quality of work is the first thing on the list. The other two just primarily supports this first thing. Having minimal distractions ensures huge blocks of time where interruptions are a minimum. This helps keep my general flow of thought continuous and focused. Finally, minimal decision-making is to reserve brain power for the more important decisions.

Setup

With those in mind, let’s dig in to how you can get a sense of optimising your setup for your goals.

The essentials

Table — I have a 2.5'x4' white flat table with water-resistant plastic coating. If you don’t like to estimate the numbers, imagine a table fitting four people being used by one. Working with a lot of space helps clarify thinking in general and ensures there is enough opening for future upgrades. Water resistance means less cleaning which does heaps for minimising decision-making.

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • Is the height good enough? is it reachable when your chair adjusts?
  • Is there enough room?
  • Is it easy to clean?

Chair —Choose a standard office chair with a headrest and back support. This allows your head to lie down when your lost in thought. As well as the capability to slide to wherever in the room. While those perks are amazing, the most important thing would most likely be the back support. Working hours on a standard plastic chair would be a sure fire way for you to gain back pains in the long run. If health is not a big issue for you, then think about it as a potential cause of distractions: nagging pains will definitely distract you.

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • Does it incline? Do you want it to incline?
  • Does it’s height adjust?
  • Does it have back support?

Laptop — In a remote work setting, this is your bread and butter. Any laptop would definitely do as long as you are comfortable with it. In a general sense, try to invest on higher end laptops when you can because they have great returns on speed and productivity. The greatest delay should be the speed of your thought, not the speed of your laptop.

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • Is it fast?
  • Is it fast?
  • But is it fast?

Headset — Working remotely means getting in contact with your clients a lot, so it would never hurt to invest in good headset. For general purposes, a wireless headset would go a long way for lessening distractions and improving your mobility. You can even roll around in your chair while wearing your headset, how cool is that?

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • How good is the sound of music? Are you a music person?
  • Does the mic get sounds clearly?
  • Does it cancel noises?

The Peripherals

Keyboard — I wasn’t a fan of ergonomic/mechanical keyboards until I started to feel wrist pains. When I did start to use them, I realised I can never go back. You might come to the same conclusion once you’ve given it a whirl. Less wrist pains means typing for hours on end (productivity, less distractions) as well as longevity for your hands.

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • Is it comfortable? Can you see yourself typing on it for hours?
  • Does it have a learning curve?
  • Is it reprogrammable?

Monitor — Bigger real estate means more things you can put in at one time which also means a lot for your productivity (or distraction, since bigger cat memes?). Having the monitor on eye level also helps for your posture and overall health.

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • Does it tilt and adjust to your head space?
  • Does it have settings that allow for relaxed viewing?
  • Does it have good colour?

Mouse — If your not much of a gaming aficionado, you could do well with having a bluetooth mouse to lessen your wire clutter and increase your mobility. For general purposes, there’s nothing much to optimise in a mouse unless it does not work.

  • Does it work?
  • Does your hand rest well?
  • Is it responsive?

The Afterthoughts

Room — the environment where you work can have great impact on your productivity. You might like complete silence to keep focus. You could also like to a good view for easier concentration. On other times, you could also be in a place with a lot of people to help dealing with the inevitable isolation in remote environments. In general, having a place that makes you feel at ease with is always a plus.

  • Do you like quiet?
  • Do you like to go for a walk?
  • Do you like open spaces?

Food — Going hungry can just easily be a distraction as, say, a loud noise. Having them within reach helps keep the continuity going. For lunch and dinner times, places within a 5-minute radius also helps with preserving your time for other more important things.

  • How accessible is food from your setup?
  • Is there a good lunch place you can go to on the regular?
  • Do you even eat?

Summary

Unlike in an office setting, optimising your remote working setup always depends on you and the values you would like to pursue. Focus on the essentials, that help you live up to your values, first, then improve as you go along.

Ace is developer for seven years and a remote software developer for the last two. If you’ve enjoyed the article, leave a clap, drop a comment or send a follow. Greatly appreciated!

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