We at Ars have a unique work situation: instead of congregating in a stuffy office among the maze of stuffy offices in a high-rise in a big city, each of us works from the comfort of our home. Some of us have been doing so for decades, while others have only a few work-from-home years under our belts.
It’s an adjustment to go from an office environment to your living room, bedroom, or home office, but each of us has found unique ways to make it work and ensure our motivation and productivity levels stay high (most of the time).
That couldn’t happen without key things we’ve grown attached to in our homes. For most of us, making adjustments to our at-home working spaces has been crucial to maintaining our mental and physical wellbeing. While some of us have found we cannot live without certain objects we already used regularly, others among us have invested in things that make our work-from-home lives better. Check out some of our work-from-home essentials below.
Steelcase Gesture, Breville Temp Select Kettle
Steelcase Gesture Chair
I sit at my desk. A lot. I do Ars work from about 7:30am to 5 or 6pm every day (with a break for a walk around the block and lunch in the middle). Then after dinner I often come back to do my own personal work at the same desk. For a long time, I balked at the idea of spending $1,000 or more on one chair. That seemed ridiculous to me. But when you think about it, my chair is one of the most important things I own. So it makes sense.
Last year, I finally bought one of those fancy chairs. I tried the one chair that chair geeks (yes, that’s a thing!) swear by—the Herman Miller Aeron—and it didn’t work for me. The Aeron tries to force a certain posture, which is supposedly good for you, but sitting in the exact same position for 14 hours a day just doesn’t feel right to me.
Instead, I bought the Steelcase Gesture. It has a lot of the features of an Aeron and the same comfort, but it is designed to accommodate more than one sitting position better. It’s not cheap, but it has done wonders for my comfort. I recommend anyone working from home get a high-quality chair, too.
When I tell people I work from home, they often say, “Wow, that must be great!” And it is, but it also has some serious downsides. The biggest peril for me is that it’s far too easy for at-home responsibilities and work to blend into one overwhelming, intimidating bulk of stress.
For that reason, I try to establish daily traditions that firmly separate work and everything else. When I return to my desk after my Ars work day to do my own writing work or do coding on my game development projects, I always drink a big glass of cinnamon tea, and the Breville Temp Select Kettle is a good choice for making that routine simple and easy. (I also drink the tea in this glass mug that my fiancée bought for me.) After a while, preparing and drinking the tea took on the psychological impact of shifting my brain to “not writing for Ars” mode for the rest of the evening.
Maybe tea isn’t the thing for you. If not, find something else that separates the day job and everything else. I think that’s important.
Herman Miller Aeron, bamboo floor mat
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
When I became Full-Time Employee Number One at Ars Technica in the mid-00s a couple of years after my first piece ran on Ars, that meant no more commuting. Instead of riding the L daily to downtown Chicago, I walked downstairs to my home office. I had the desk, the computer, and the monitors I wanted; I just needed something better to sit on for nine or 10 hours a day than the el-cheapo chair I bought at Costco—and something to keep it from damaging the wood floor.
The first choice was easy: the Herman Miller Aeron chair. Not only are Aerons impeccably designed from an ergonomic standpoint, they are incredibly durable—I’m still using the same chair.
The floor covering was tougher. The first one I bought was plastic, and it looked bad. When we moved to a new house 11 years ago, I decided to find a nicer-looking solution. I settled on a bamboo floor mat that complemented the stain of the floor in my office. It folds up, is lightweight, and most importantly, it keeps the floor from being scuffed up as I move around in my Aeron.