Work Spaces Around the World
Once you’ve landed a remote gig, how do you ensure you’re set up for success?
As glamorous as it may seem, the hammock-in-paradise office is a recipe for sun glaring off your screen, sand everywhere, and a killer back ache.
However, remote work does allow you to customize your workspace to exactly your liking!
A few of our members share a peek into workstations that help them get the job done.
When she’s not blogging, she’s probably building a new web app for fun or using R to manipulate data and ETL processes. She loves Crossfit, data, and learning, not in that order.
When I transitioned to full-time remote work, I knew that I wanted to invest in building my home office to be the space that would allow me to thrive.
Being a personal finance blogger, though, I did what best fit my budget: I have slowly built up the space I wanted and needed over time.
While there are improvements I would still like to make, being intentional about them allows me to make changes within my budget constraints and keeps me from impulse-buying the newest, shiniest thing on the block.
My desk and my two book shelves are the foundation of my home office. I originally found a desk at IKEA that I really loved.
The desk alone cost nearly $300, but because we live far from any major cities, getting it delivered to my home would have cost nearly $700.
We decided instead to go with local builder Rawesome Concepts who was able to build out my desk and the two bookshelves for about $300 to exactly the customizations I wanted.
I have been using it for nearly a year and while the connections can be finicky, it was a great investment.
My keyboard was another hand-me-down and is likely the next piece of my set up to be upgraded.
To keep my desk organized, I use Poppin supplies.
The pop of color is beautiful against my white desk. I added a shower board a couple of weeks ago.
Shower board is cheaper than a white board and has the same functionality.
Every month I create a “Month at a Glance” view on my shower board which has been great, so I don’t have to pull up my calendar when talking about high-level dates (booking travel, figuring out days of the week, etc).
It’s also great to have a space where I can sketch things out as I think about them.
Last winter, I added a convertible desk to my office.
I love that this gives me the opportunity to switch to standing, which is important to me since I try to live an active lifestyle.
Unfortunately, work at my standing desk is limited to working directly from my laptop due to the small size, but it has been great to be able to get a change of scenery whenever I’m stuck.
I have tried to build my office set up so that it is as minimalist as possible while supporting my success.
Being intentional about what takes up space, minimizing clutter, and not being afraid to get rid of something that isn’t working have been key to constant improvement!
Christopher has been working remotely for two years for companies in Europe and the United States, all from a small island at the edge of Europe.
I have tried my hardest to create the ultimate “man cave”.
My sit/stand double monitor setup allows me to have a fully-equipped office feel while allowing me to be in close contact with my collaborators.
I have one monitor in portrait mode, allowing me to write code more efficiently, and one in standard landscape, allowing to me view the web as most of the world does.
I have freedom to stand, move around a bit, and even dance while I work, usually listening to diverse genres such as math rock music, feeding my hunger for late 90’s Pittsburgh nostalgia.
You may know Thibault as a friendly french freelancer. Or as a podcaster. Or as That Guy From Twitter. The internet is my home, welcome!
As I’ve transitioned from a full-time job in an office to an independent remote worker, my working environment has changed quite a bit over the years.
I like to switch it up every couple of months to continue adapting to different workflows.
Up until recently, I was working from home, where all I required to work was a table.
Every couple of days or weeks, I would change my position, alternating between sitting down and standing up.
A few days ago, I’ve started going outside for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
Up until a few weeks ago, 100% of my work was done on my laptop —I’ve recently upgraded to a 2016 MacBook Pro.
It’s quite literally the only thing I require, along with an internet connection, to share my work with my clients.
Recently, I’ve also traded my aging iPad Mini for an iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, a great solution to work from coffee houses, airports, and on the road.
When the level of ambient noise is above thinking-level I use a pair of Sony MDR-1000X wireless noise-cancelling headphones.
They have great sound quality, create perfect noise isolation, and are very comfortable so that I can stay focused on my work — or keep nailed to my ears when I travel on trains or planes.
As a freelancer, many of my clients have existing systems in place.
We usually communicate through a mixture of infrequent emails and regular conversations on Slack.
Finally, and perhaps more importantly, I organize my clients, work and invoices with a nifty little web app called Thrive.
I’m really grateful that most of my work is digital and doesn’t require a lot of physical space.
But for those lucky enough to be in this situation, regular backups and web apps are essential.
Paul has been working remotely for 1 year now as a DevOps Analyst for Moodle.
I really enjoy working remotely, and the flexibility it allows me. Some days I’m standing, and recently I added a chair to my desk setup.
I also work from the living room on a comfortable chair when I can because the light is better out there.
The deck outside during sunset is another great place to work, but not in the winter.
Fernando is a product manager and helps others build great products. He’s been called a “specialist at being a generalist”, which is a description he agrees with!
I have been working remotely full-time for five years now, and even though my actual hardware set up has remained pretty much the same, perfecting the physical location I work from has been a journey.
When I started working remotely I had no idea it was going to (very shortly) become a full-time thing.
So, like most people do, I started working from the kitchen table.
While this was fine to get started, it was clearly not a sustainable solution.
Initially I just moved out to one of two unused back rooms we had which were outside the house.
This worked well for isolating myself from day to day household noises, but it was far from an inviting, or comfortable, place.
Right before our second daughter was born, I made a little investment in a simple renovation for the other back room we had.
Nothing fancy – some paint and new flooring, new windows and a reused desk (which I really loved).
Then we moved. The house we moved to already had an office, so getting started was easy.
The office itself, however, was less than ideal.
The desk was really narrow, and the room was inside the house and easily connected to the main living room and to my daughters’ bedroom, which meant a fair amount of noise and distraction.
With a third child along the way, I got kicked out of my office once again so it could be converted into a nursery.
I found myself working from the kitchen table again.
Luckily, the office wasn’t the only bad thing about that house, so we moved again. I now have a dedicated office which is light, roomy, and while it is inside the house, it is far away from any distractions, nicely tucked away behind the garage.
And, I’m back to using my favorite desk!
As for actual equipment, I’m pretty light.
I keep two headphones at hand – a small in-ear one for taking part in those meetings without looking like a DJ, and a larger closed-ear one for listening to music and drowning out external noises.
As a student and now a startup employee, I am moving between school/work, my apartment, and my house when I go back home.
Being able to work from anywhere is very important for me. Being able to have my whole setup in a backpack is even better.
I want something simple, really useful, and not just something beautiful.
Before going to college, I bought an Apple refurbished Macbook Pro after 3 years using my Windows PC. I don’t regret the purchase.
I am able to have it in my backpack and still have space to put other things.
I bought my Roost Stand shortly after reading an article by Pieter Levels to prevent back, neck and wrist pain.
Between my work at Argos VR Systems, Stuffi and side-projects, thanks to this setup, I am able to work comfortably from anywhere.
I work from my living room at home, from my desk in my bedroom. At my apartment, I work from my desk. At work, I don’t move much so I am working from a table in our office space.
Each time, i just have to open my backpack, take out my Mac and keyboard and mouse, open my Roost Stand and I am ready to work.
I also see my iPhone as a part of my work setup.
I answer emails and slacks messages, tweet from my company’s Twitter account, manage my tasks, plan, write ideas for articles, and more.
My setup is not something I found in a day , it’s something that has evolved according to my needs.
In the future I to want to try working from a standing desk.
I first started working remote in 2008 when we were living near Omaha, Nebraska, US.
I had my office in a spare room in the basement and custom built my first desk.
Over the 7 years that followed, that desk was in constant use and was refactored for a sit/stand variation when we relocated to Northern Wisconsin in 2013.
Starting in March of 2016, a few years after we purchased a house in Wisconsin, I decided to build out a purposeful office space in our unfinished basement.
I did all of the construction myself, from framing to electrical (which I had inspected and wired into the main panel by a pro) to insulation, drywall and painting (I had pros install the carpet).
I then wanted to build out the desk I’ve been imagining over the past number of years. Autonomous.ai offers a DIY kit for a powered standing desk.
So utilizing that as the base, I then designed, built and finished the top.
And I’m loving it! I’m 6’5” (195cm) tall, so for any long term comfort I’ve resolved to custom building for ergonomic purposes. I switch between sitting and standing about 4-5 times a day.
I’m pretty close to my dream setup right now; I just need to finish putting some shelving and other furniture in my office.
Remote work is something special and I founded the Remote Works Podcast that I co-host where we talk about everything from being a digital nomad to a stay at home remote working parent.
Jonathon’s set up includes a Mid 2012 MacBook Retina, dual Dell U2415 24” displays, his custom-built desktop, the Autonomous.ai DIY Business Sit/Stand Desk, a Lamicall Desktop Cell Phone Stand, GEOTEL Aluminum Laptop Stand, and a Blue Yeti USB Mic. Some of the apps that he uses are Caffeine, Shush, Cloud App, Flux, and Spectacle.
Sam has been traipsing around the world with her laptop in tow since 2016. She works as a software engineer at Curiosity Media and throws darts at a map to choose where she’ll live next month. (Kidding, she usually picks based on the cheapest flights.)
Because I travel a lot, my work set up is pretty compact.
I use a MacBook Pro, an Apple Keyboard, standard Apple earbuds, and a Logitech mouse.
In the past, I had a computer stand that broke down into three pieces I could fit into my bag, but a friend suggested using a piece of cardboard instead.
I like my cardboard computer stand better because it’s exactly the height I want, folds flat, weighs almost nothing, and is so inexpensive that I don’t need to worry about anything happening to it!
I also carry an ethernet cable and converter and a HooToo wireless travel router for dealing with flaky wifi, various extra chargers and cables, a spare set of headphones, a backup hard drive, and rechargeable batteries as part of my gear.
My set up is so portable that I can be ready to work in a new space in a minute or two!
I also use Dropbox to backup important files, Github for collaborating on code with my team, Zoom.us for virtual meetings,
Pivotal Tracker for planning projects with my team, Pixelmator for design work, Sublime Text for coding, Slack for communicating with my team, Google calendar to keep track of my schedule, Google Inbox for managing and snoozing emails, Caffeine to keep my computer from falling asleep if I’m running certain kinds of programs, Shush to manage muting my microphone during meetings, Toggl to track my time, and Flux to remove blue light from my screen in the evenings (so my brain can turn off when it’s time to sleep).
Our community members’ work stations vary as much as their geographical locations – hopefully you’ve been inspired to try out some of their tips! Comment below with your favorite gear or app!