The office is dead, long live the home office.
This is actually great news for me as I’ve always had a home office. Mostly because I used to be a terrible workaholic while at the same time being a bit of a hermit.
So as the world shut down and the idea of working in an office faded, my excitement only grew—finally a good excuse to pimp out the home office and play with lots of new gear. And yes, I realize most don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated home office space. To those taking video meetings from the kitchen counter, I salute you.
For those with space here’s what I’ve discovered so far with regard to good home office gear, along with some personal commentary.
I live in Norway, where we get about 2 weeks a year of good sun. Thus I needed to improve my home office lighting for video meetings. I looked to the leaders in sitting on their asses for a living, AKA the video game streamers.
With their inspiration, I settled on Elgato Key Light Air and have been very happy with them. You can pair up multiple lights and easily control them with your laptop or smartphone. You get some basic controls for brightness and color temperature.
Cost: $129 Each (recommended to get 2)
Truth be told, when the pandemic hit, it was near impossible to get any webcam. Every retailer was sold out as the manufactures scurried to keep up with demand.
One of the few that was available in my area was the Logitech HD Webcam C615. Overall it’s a decent webcam but not great. It offers HD picture quality and lots of options for tweaking settings via the Logitech Camera Control app. It’s also very portable, which is nice for those who still leave the house.
I can’t relate.
Buy in US: On Amazon
Buy in Norway: Still out of stock
It’s a bit surprising to me that we’re 9+ months into the pandemic and many haven’t realized their microphone quality sucks. If you’re still using your built-in laptop microphone, for example, it sounds like you’re talking through a tunnel or worse.
I’ve tried experimenting with 2 professional microphones for webinars or other video/audio recording work I’ve been doing. Although in most cases, just using a webcam with a built-in microphone will significantly improve your audio quality.
For more professional audio recording I recommend the RØDE NT-USB. This is an incredibly well-made mic that gives my buttery smooth voice the treatment it deserves.
Sound Proofing and Absorption
If your home office is a small space like mine you need to put some thought into the acoustics of the room. Specifically, to reduce the echo and reverb your microphone will pick up.
As a bonus, your roommates or spouse will thank you as soundproofing can significantly reduce them having to listen to you blab on and on all day. Plus, you can make your space look like a recording studio, which is great for fantasizing about a cooler job that doesn’t just consist of sitting in video meetings all day.
As I have a rather deep voice, I also purchased bass traps that sit in the corner of your room, as seen below. When it comes to sound absorption, there are endless options for kits you can buy, including the most commonly used egg carton-like foam pads.
Cost: Depends, but roughly $100-200 for a multiple piece kit
The final piece to complete your home office is a good desk. Which in itself isn’t anything special but lately I’ve realized that I’m sitting down way too much.
And as some witty person once said, “Sitting is the new smoking”, they were certainly right about just how unhealthy it can be. Although at least when you smoke you look cool and edgy. When you sit on your ass all day all you get is a sore back.
So I’m upgrading my office desk to a standing desk and the same one I used back in California. It’s a high-quality desk at a good price called the Smart Desk 2 from Autonomous.
Buy it Worldwide: Direct from Autonomous
That concludes my home office gear guide. I hope you found something helpful, and if you have been sitting in the same chair all day, do yourself a favor and stand up and do something. Or at least take a shower.