What is key to a great home office setup?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

I'm moving places in a couple weeks and I'm primed to really create a great home office situation.

How should I go about doing this, any tips?


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Create a clear separation between "home" and "work" space.

This allows one to easily "enter" or "leave" work-mode.

You also should probably make another session on your computer, for work only, as to avoid being distracted by "home" stuff (even better, another OS installation with some other, dedicated, disk. SSDs are cheap now).

For a nice separation, a plant wall is pretty and blends in most environment styles, and taking care of it will count as a pause ;)


In my case another OS installation is an overkill. I only use the computer to work. There is no "home" stuff in my computer. And i am married with two kids. All our family pics and videos are on a separate drive and also i upload them to amazon glacier. Cause you know, you never know.


I think what is meant is a second user/login to windows/macos/linux. The idea is that you can turn down the noise of notifications by switching accounts so you can more easily separate work from home life. This applies to BYOD. When you use company/client hardware there is no such need and typically you are not an administrator of the laptop so cannot add a personal user for social computing.

I have both situations. On my own personal macbook I have two users. The first is my personal login for hobbies and social. I then have a separate user where I have the work of a start up I am involved with. I also have a client supplied windows laptop for my current primary contract gig. That laptop is completely locked down with only their work on it to connect to their networks over vpn and remains the clients property to be returned after the gig.

Cool idea to separate users spaces. I think I might try that...

Only downside I could possibly see if wanting to use a tool setup perhaps for work in one space in another for tinkering or grokking or whatnot. Global install should solve that though and it’s not as if these tools are too terribly difficult to setup...

I talked about both solutions: a separate login, or a separate OS.

The second one is nice if you have some sensitive work stuff, or softwares with versions that may overlap, or if you just don't want to risk messing stuff.

The same hardware for two different computers and uses

On my mac I put things into /Users/Shared which is usable by both accounts. You still have to set file permissions so shared git repos are writeable to both but it's not hard.

softwares with versions that may overlap

If you actually have to deal with software that you both need multiple different versions of and it doesn't support installs with multiple different versions on the same system, you've got bigger issues than work/home separation...

Ye, software with shitty installer.

Looking at you, every auto and unconfigurable installer that ships with almost every electron app.


Love the idea of a whole separate disk for work mode. Great notion. (Certainly something I would benefit from! 😅)


Some of these points have already been made, but this is what I look for in a home office:

  • Dedicated space, preferably a separate room. I currently have my office in the basement in a roughly 8' x 10' space.
  • Plants
  • A window, because it can get depressing when no natural light is coming in.
  • A decent desk. I'm guilty here. I have an IKEA long desk that I paid 64$ for. It's something I'm looking to upgrade next year. We have standing desks at work, so I will probably go with one as well for home (suggestions welcome 😉) UPDATE: I just got a standing desk setup.

My standing desk was delivered and I just got it all assembled this evening.

So I went with the black desktop. Really excited to start working on this badass piece of office furniture.

The big win of this is it’s a 1000$ CAD desk that was on sale for 439.99$ + tax and I had awards points from work for some cool stuff I’ve done over the past little while, so the grand total came to 27.94$.

  • A good chair. Mine is not bad. I can't remember the model, but I bought a Tempurpedic chair from Staples a couple of years ago. I believe this is the one, staples.ca/products/324599-en-temp.... I got it on sale at the time, so it looks like it's about 150$ more now.
  • A decent monitor. Mine is not bad. It's a BENQ 27" that is not 4K. I will probably upgrade that at some point.
  • Kungfu Hamster with optional mace. This is optional, but he makes for a great rubber duck when debugging 😉

Kungfu Hamster and Plants

Desk Setup


I like the tiger plants. The best things about them are that they don't require too much care and remove toxins (some of them) from the air. Aaand look great of course.


Disagree with you here, Nick. KungFu Hamster is absolutely not optional.


Dont forget good ventilation, nice odor. (Candles are welcome), and good light.


Plants! 🌱🌿🌾

I really underestimated how they make a space feel. I'm currently trying to automate a watering system 😊.


In the same vane as underestimating the plants value, don’t underestimate how good it feels taking care of something (despite the extra effort)

Automating is a cool project, but doesn’t it bring you a feeling of joy when you water them yourself? 💦 🌱 = 😊


I agree!

The automation is for when I'm away for a while.

Super cool. What’s your approach looking like?

Preliminary research at the moment.

I have a few Raspberry Pis and bits and bobs I've been testing but I'll be buying the watering parts this week 😊.


Thoughts on fake plants?

Or do real plants make a significant difference?


I prefer real because then actions are required. It’s the caring that’s significant for me.

Fake can still look nice though 🙂

Never thought of it that way. I always thought it just the green that helped.

Any plants you recommend?

Sansevieria. It's hardy and doesn't need tons of water or light.

I highly recommend tiger plants and/or aloe vera. They don't require much care so you don't have to worry about them and they'll be always green. I believe it's enough to water them once a month. And they not fake :D


I have a separate room on my home. But sometimes i go to the garden or to a Tim Hortons / Starbucks or any kind of restaurant to work. I also some times work on our living room or even in bed. But those are exceptions.

My wife puts odor candles in my office so it smells very nice. It is also very clean and well ventilated.

This is my setup. I also have. One window. Two ferns (one looke more like a little tree) both of them are fake.

And believe it or not we have one big religious image It's a statue of the Virgen de Guadalupe.

my home office


A nice view! One that you can stare at while you sit behind your desk.

Being able to not look at the problem you are working on is a valuable tool to solve problems. It's also a nice way to relieve stress. The most perfect case would also allow you to go outside a bit (e.g. a balcony).


I'm always doing home office. In my house I have a reserved room with a table, lot of books.

But the most important part is make sure that you can isolate yourself from your house. Prepare for work: water, coffee and close the door.

I could work from home all maternity license from my wife... Six months!


Splurge on the tools to make it comfortable! You'll be spending a lot of time in your home office, so you should make it a place you look forward to being in.

I've invested in a CODE Keyboard, a nice monitor (surprisingly, from a thrift store!), a comfortable Logitech mouse, and pretty sweet JVC HA-NC250 noise-cancelling headphones. I've also been blessed with a solid wood desk from a friend, and a wonderful high-back chair I was given for my birthday a couple of years ago.

I also love physical books, so I have a handy reference section on my desk. I've got a couple of whiteboards, a corkboard, a desk calendar, and this dude for rubber-ducking...

Doctor Whooves

As a result, my workspace is somewhere I legitimately enjoy working.

I listed out the rest of my hardware and software gear here:


Definitely ergonomics. You are sacrificing a lot by staying alone at home, so why not make it a win?

  1. Orhotpedic mattress. I know, it's not part of your office, but sleeping in a comfortable bed made a huge difference to my entire well being.
  2. Ergonomic chair, you know, the one that can tilt naturally with your body. It have to have some sort of a weight in it, no idea how that works exactly.
  3. Standup desk. While I can't say I stay up all day, nor do I have a specific schedule to get up, I've noticed that whenever I feel like getting up, it's very nice to have it. Also you can adjust your desk depending on your mood, the tilt example above, or in the cases when you feel like sitting up straight.
  4. Monitor arm. I rarely move mine TBH, but it's nice to have it anyway. It's important to keep your neck straight. It also makes your table space cleaner.
  5. Comfortable keyboard and mouse. I've noticed that having a keyboard with a numpad required my right hand on the mouse to be way to the right. Especially when you are a touch typist, and so that resulted in significant pain in my right shoulder over the years.
  6. Soft padding for your wrists and elbows. Any thick enough and soft mat would do it. Rubbing your arms on hard surfaces over prolonged period can lead to serious nerve injuries.
  7. 120Hz monitor. I know that's highly controversial, most of the people think that's nonsense, but if you are sensitive to flickering it's a must have.
  8. Ear muffs. Yep, I do have headphones, and earplugs too, but in all those other cases when you do need just silence, construction grade over the ear, ear muffs can help you get into the zone.
  9. In case you are in close proximity to a window, you have to be able to control the amount of daylight to the point of complete blackout. Thick blinds can help you with that.

Everything else is a plus. I'm yet to experiment with good lighting BTW.


I really like your setup. I have a beautiful extra room which is similar to the room you are describing. I think I will work on it some and see what comes out of it.


Not really a home setup, but more of a temporary Airbnb setup:
Separate work\other stuff location
Headphones (Construction site nearby)
Comfort (I travel with my mechanical keyboard and an adjustable stand)
Something to look at (either a picture or a window) while thinking


Obviously everyone will have differing opinions on what is "required" for your home office. I will simply put down what I have, with the understanding that I absolutely love working from home in this environment.

Definitely agree with the comments about a clear separation. It needs to have a door that you can close. That way you "go to work" in the morning and "come home" in the evening. (or whenever) For me since I have a wife and son, it's easiest for me to have a lock on the door. If I'm in there working, I lock the door.

Comfortable sitting environment. This means quality desk and chair. I personally use the Autonomous SmartDesk Business Edition as well as their ErgoChair2. They're super affordable compared to other options for high quality comfortable working conditions.

Excellent monitor(s). I have one large 49 inch ultrawide monitor and it's incredible. I never feel like I don't have the room I need. It's not 4k, as much as I'd love it to be, but it's way more than I need.

Comfortable keyboard. I LOVE my CODE Mechanical Keyboard. Full size, clear switches, it's beautifully simplistic and super comfortable to type on.

Quality headphones. I don't want to hear my family and I don't want to subject them to constantly hearing my music muffled in my office. I use the Bose QC25's and they're amazing, I put them on and I'm able to easily get in the zone.

Also, I personally have two laptops. One is my work-issued laptop, and the other is my personal laptop. I recommend this for a number of reasons. First, you don't have to worry about whether it's okay to do personal projects on a work machine. Second, I don't have all my games, applications, etc., from my personal machine on my work machine. Those are temptations for me when I'm working, so I keep work stuff on my work machine. That's just what works well for me.

Natural light. This is important to my mental health. If I'm working in a place that's dark or poorly lit, I don't feel as good. Natural light is excellent at staving off those feelings.

Some fun things to make the space yours. For myself, I have various Legend of Zelda decorations around my office, as that's my favorite game franchise. Just make it yours.


My home office is designed to help me focus, but also to satisfy my wandering mind.

I can't stress how much having plants in my office has improved my general mood. I have a dieffenbachia, a sansevieria, and two ZZ plants in my office, all great in low light and hard to kill.

It's pretty great to have a whiteboard in my home office. It helps me keep track of the things that float out of my head during the workweek. I also use notebooks like crazy for this!

I've also found that having my Bass in my office is a great way to take a break from writing (words or code). The same goes for having some books in my office. I keep about a fourth of my home library in my office (a few dozen are on the floor and need some shelving).

I have a second desk (previously my gaming desk) that my brother will sometimes use when we pair program on stuff. Generally, though, I prefer others don't come in my office, so it remains a space focused on work for me. My wife (who works from home too) tends to keep to her office (down the hall) or one of the other rooms in our house while I work.

Also, I'm a big fan of candles/scent diffusers, but sometimes I have to ventilate the room when I overuse them.

Unfortunately, I haven't done a great job of decorating the walls in my office and I think that would have a pretty positive impact on my mood. That and adding some ambient lighting are the next two things on my wishlist.

Other things I wish my home office had: better wall colors, more windows (stuck with one at the moment), and sit/stand desk (missing this from my old office job).

My desks, some books, and the walls:

My Bass and some of the plants:


If there isn't a big window, or you live in a country far from the equator where you can feel winter is coming already like me, then get some sort of ”lightbox” to ensure that you have a bright environment that simulates natural daylight in your field of vision while you are working. This has a huge effect for me.


My number one recommendation- multiple monitors. 2 is infinitely better than one, and 3 is a big step up from 2. This is especially essential for coding, IMO. I’ve had 3 monitors for 4-5 years now and I still can’t imagine how I ever got by with a single monitor. I know a guy who has a big ultrawide monitor. It’s pretty cool (and he loves it for gaming) but I much prefer my triple monitor setup.

My number 2 recommendation is to make it your own - whether that means Star Wars memorabilia everywhere or framed Salvador Dali prints or whatever. Paint your walls your favorite color... make it a place you’ll enjoy spending time. If you’re a music lover, don’t settle for crappy computer speakers - get a really nice Bluetooth speaker (I LOVE my Marshall Kilburn) or go all out and setup a receiver and some good bookshelf speakers - maybe even a subwoofer. My office/lab has “floating shelves” high up on the walls (we have high ceilings) on which I have many Tiki gods, parrots, conch shells, hula girls, and a set of bongos. There’s also a hanging puffer fish lamp for ambiance. When I walk into my office, I say, “Alexa, take me to the Tiki Lounge” and she turns on the puffer fish lamp and starts playing vintage Hawaiian music on my Marshall Kilburn Bluetooth speaker. Always makes me smile!

I also really LOVE my 19” equipment rack... (get a 4 poster - NOT 2! Sometimes businesses actually throw them out/give them away so watch Craigslist and don’t overpay.) I put my main PC in a 4U rackmount case and it lives in my rack along with my media server, a rackmount UPS, power conditioner, switch panel, 2 printers, and a couple shelves to hold small miscellaneous stuff like my modem, router, and a few Raspberry Pis (home automation hub, Pihole, etc.) I used to have a vintage Harman Kardon receiver at the top connected to a pair of Klipsch bookshelf speakers but I got a really good offer on the Klipsch speakers and decided the Marshall Bluetooth speaker was good enough for my office (background music) needs.

Oh - and if you’ll be doing multiple things in your office, consider more than one workspace(/desk, etc.) I have two desks in an L-formation and I roll my chair from one to the other. It’s fantastic!


a chair that goes 180 degrees.
Also, if you don't have a separate room for your working related stuff, buy a blanket and put over it. I heard it helps as much as having a separate room to leave work-mode


I'm moving too in the end of the year.

I will transform a 7m² chamber to a working & train room.

I have two chairs, a gamer chair and one of those "healthy" work chairs.

A desk that can change height, from standing to sitting.

And I'll add some kind of shelf for work folders.

I will probably add a green-screen at one wall for video stuff.

For the training part I'll add a power cage, a bench, and weights.

The room also has a big window so I will get plenty of daylight when working (also I can ventilate after workout, haha).

Overall I hope to have 1-2m² left in the middle so it doesn't get too cramped.


A box or bed for your cat so it doesn't walk across the desk and step onto the keyboard all the time :)


One of the most important things for me in a home office is having a window to look out from, preferably with some nature outside. It’s relaxing and helps against eye strain. This view is definitely the thing I miss the most from my previous home office. Every few minutes I’d look out for a split second to see a bird, squirrel, or just the trees moving. There was even a river! I can definitely feel the difference in eye strain and stress levels.


I agree. Windows are the best on an home office. Even more if they have a nice landscape or at least a small garden to show


The things you use several times a day should be within arm's reach. Things used once a day, a little further. Other stuff: extracted away into labeled (labelers now cost $10 on AMZ) storage containers.

But the real starting place is your chair, your [adjustable] desk, the distance between your screen and your eyes (arm's length), the height of your monitor(s) so you do not bend your head and look down/up at them. Ergonomics will come back to bite you.

You want if possible natural light: but orientate your desk so you are not looking into the sun half the time, or fighting glare.

There's more (cables!, music, Alexia, oh my!) but that will get on the right road.



Sit standing desks are awesome and I would never work again without one. I love the mental clarity, improved health, and ability to switch between standing/sitting whenever I feel like it.

If anyone is interested about standing desks, feel free to check this out.



First of all: measure every centimeter of your space! You'd want to have a digital or physical note with all the measures when you shop for a table, a chair, decorative stuff and so on. It's really a time safer!

I recently bought an electric standing desk (Ikea "Bekant") and I love it!

Make sure you have enough power strips for your equipment because nothing sucks more than moving and noticing you don't have enough of them afterwards... Trust me on this one 😅

After that, follow the other tips in the comments here :)


A room with a door!

Depending on your level of myopia and/or need to spread stuff out, one or more monitor that is also not the laptop screen.

Wireless headphones with a really good microphone. I use a pair of Corsair Void headphones. This way I have control of when or whether my dog gets to join conference calls or not.

Nice to have but not required: standing desk with anti-fatigue mat. You won’t use it as often as you think you will unless you literally cannot sit and never get hurt forcing you to sit.

Having an extra SSD on hand in the event of emergency is a good idea but not something you ever really think about til you need one.

I have bookshelves because I’m old. I don’t have plants because I have cats and dogs.


Living in the Bay Area, I'm a little shocked by the number of people here with a separate room that they can use as a home office.

As someone living in a shared one-bedroom apartment, I would say that I've benefitted from a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, but one thing that I haven't seen mentioned here is good cable-management. I recently bought a desk with integrated cable-management and power-strip and it's made my confined workspace feel a lot more manageable.


I love natural light. I try to have a large desk that I can spread out on by my window because otherwise I end up coding on my bed.


A good speaker system is a must


if you want best speaker check this review boneheadphone.com/best-soundbar-un...


A key to lock the office door.
A "Do not disturb"-sign.


Coffee machine. 👌


I would say the most important thing is a door that stays closed when you need it to, as this poor guy on BBC learned.



Isolation. I can sit on a floor in an empty room with my laptop if I am isolated and it's quiet 🔇 🔕


Keep it in a different building.


A decent enough working desk, chair and a desk lamp so you don't hurt your back while working. That's all you need to be productive :)


Always wear pants at home.


This would be my advice; Make sure you don't work on your bed with your laptop, since its associated with sleeping hence the concentration problems. At least this is the case with me.. :)


Headphones! That's the key to escape from all the distractions of the home.

Better to have a separate room that is free from all distractions.