My Home Office And YouTube Studio All-In-One Workspace Tour
Storage, lighting, speakers, and backup internet and power. This is the home office I do most of my writing and thinking in.
When there’s a pandemic going on in the world and you work for yourself anyway there’s … a lot of time to think about home office improvements.
I take pride in my home office and making it better iteration by iteration — although given that I rent, it’s a space that’s still awaiting its final destination (and as soon as that happens. Well, let’s just say I have a laundry list ready to work on.)
There are also a few features that I think every work-from-home should consider having. I call these the technical prepper’s home office essentials.
The 5 Must-Haves In Every Prepper’s Home Office
Steps to take before the lights go out and the internet goes down ….during your next client Zoom call
Here’s what I have going, component by component.
An Office Door Sign
Yes, I really bought one of these things from Amazon.
A lot of work-from-homers–particularly the pandemic newbies — report difficulty in coming to grips with the idea that their home and workspace are no longer separated.
If possible, having a dedicated room for your home office makes a world of difference. Admittedly, this … typically involves paying more in rent. But on the flip side, you’re able to save on renting dedicated office space.
Ultimately, I would love to have an office space out of the house to call my own. But I’m also a big fan of private offices. Yup, I’m a contrarian all the way through and open plan WeWorks just don’t do it for me. I use them as meeting spaces. But when I need to get serious work done — a large part of what I do is writing — a door is an essential focus mechanism.
The home office doubles as a guest bedroom. It’s a square cube of about 3 x 3 meters. But it’s … a space to work in that’s my own.
(Note: for the first time ever I’m including Amazon Affiliate links here. The recommendations are impartial — it’s the stuff I have in my own home workspace).
— “Employee only” door sign. Available from Amazon.com.
A Doorbell. Or A Home Intercom.
Focus time is good but it’s also nice to provide other humans with a means of catching your attention.
Another nice addition you can use: a home intercom system.
A Custom Desk, A Custom Computer Running Ubuntu, And A 3 x LCD Monitor Array
I’ve been working with a three screen array for about five years now.
Do you need three screens?
No. I find two almost just as useful.
But I find two having infinitely better than only one.
I’m firmly entrenched in the desktop computer camp. My current model is a custom build running Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS, although it’s reaching the point in time at which the next upgrade will probably involve swapping out the whole machine and not just one of its components.
Another great addition: a custom cut whole wood table that uses almost all the available horizontal space in the room.
This was more necessity than upgrade: monitor arrays can place a lot of weight on the table and result in bowing where they are mounted (mine’s a C-clamp that runs around the back of the table).
I bought my whole wood table from a local DIY store for about the same price as an MDF table cost in my local IKEA. Finishing it was my first ever woodworking project. If you have a wood workshop or scrapyard in your area, you can get something infinitely more solid than IKEA (although IKEA aficionados will notice that my setup is now a hybrid!)
— Mount It! Three screen monitor mount. Available from Amazon.com.
— 200 x 60 cm wood table from a local woodworking store.
— Computer and components from local technology store.
The IVAR Modular Shelving System. And Lots And Lots Of Glas Boxes.
I own … quite a bit of tech gear.
Cables. Adapters. Microphones. Mixers.
The collection has kind of sprawled over the years.
Lots of sprawling tech gears means … you need somewhere to put it.
The apartment that my wife and I live in in Jerusalem is — as is typical in this city — relatively small. However it’s redeeming factor, from a storage perspective, is tall ceilings.
To take advantage of those, I picked up the IVAR modular shelving unit in IKEA. Every time I’m there — or whenever I run out of space — I pick up a couple more shelves.I have another vertical trellis cable-tied for when I have somewhere to build out to. For now, the room is pretty much full up.
The eagle-eyed IKEA fans on the (unofficial) IKEA subreddit (/r/IKEA) tell me that the Glas boxes I bought in bulk have sadly been discontinued. They’ve been replaced by UPPSNOFSAD. These storage bins are cheap but when you buy a lot of them .. can really stock a lot of gear.
I also have two Hyllis storage units joined vertically using an IKEA hack on the other side of the room.
Double Up the Hyllis - IKEA Hackers
Materials: 2 Hyllis shelving units, a good screwdriverDescription: The Hyllis is a nice piece of furniture to begin…
Above: ‘Double Up The Hyllis’ IKEA hack. A cheap storage system perfect for small spaces with generous ceilings.
What I’m using:
— IVAR shelving system. Available from IKEA.
— IVAR pine shelving unit inserts, 17" x 12". Available from IKEA.
— UPPSNOFSAD boxes. Available from IKEA.
Digital Prepper Essential 1: An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) For The Desktop And Screens, With Extensions And Splitters To Provide Extra Power For Lighting And Accessories During Electricity Outages
Uninterruptible power supplies provide some passive power conditioning and also act as a power reservoir in the event of an electricity outage.
If you use a desktop computer, these are great investments irrespective of whether your power frequently goes out.
I’m squeezing the most out of this UPS by using several adapters:
— C14-to-C13 cable runs to bring one fork of the power supply to the networking equipment on the other side of the home office alongside a conventional power extender. (Available from Amazon.com)
– An IEC-C14 to universal power adapter to run a power plug off one of the UPS forks (Available from Amazon.com)
— C14 1-to-4 male to female splitter to run the power outputs for the 3 monitors. (Available from Amazon.com)
Using these adapters, the computer, 3 screens, and networking equipment are on a UPS (it would be more ideal to use two; next upgrade!). And I also have a plug that I can stick a light into in the event of a power outage.
Use an online speccing tool to ensure that the UPS you buy has a large enough reserve for the equipment you have on it. A 1,000 VA Eaton UPS should be generous for most home users’ needs.
Recommendation: think liberally about everything you might need during a power outage, including lighting. Find low-draw appliances. And wire them into the largest UPS you can afford.
And for the (fellow) preppers: glow in the dark tape. Affix it to the UPS’s backup power outlets to find your way to connectivity even if and when the lights go out.
— Glow in The Dark Tape — 15 Ft x 0.5 Inch — Bright, Rechargeable, & Long-Lasting Fluorescent Tape (Available From Amazon.com)
Digital Prepper Essential 2: Redundant ISP And Cellular (4G) Connectivity Sources With A Load Balancing Router To Make The Magic/Failover Work
If you’re working from home, your internet connection is your conduit to the world.
Where I’m based, data only cellular plans are widely available and affordable. I use mine for a variety of purposes:
- The main internet running through the house is provided by load-balancing the ISP and cellular routers through a load balancing router. A WiFi router running in access point (AP) mode provides wireless connectivity that takes advantage of the automatic ISP-to-cellular failover.
- I use ethernet runs to hard-wire both routers into my desktop computer and Speedify to bond the connections for enhanced speed and seamless failover.
All my home networking tweaks this summer have been documented here:
How To Set Up A Home Internet Connection That Almost Never Goes Down
If you’re struggling with home internet connectivity, there are some cool solutions out there. This may save you a few…
— Speedify, connection-bonding VPN (subscription)
Flat ethernet cabling is a controversial subject within the home networking community. Some claim that it doesn’t have proper crossed wires although most specs I’ve read suggest that they do.
As a renter, it’s often my only option for ethernet runs (I run one from this office to the a switch which has my NAS and the router serving as an AP on it).
Also, I apparently have less strong feelings on the cut-throat round vs. flat ethernet cabling debate than many home networkers.
Explainer: Load balancing vs. failover vs. channel bonding
Lots And Lots Of Cuttable Velcro, Cable Clamps, And Wire Organizers To (Try To) Keep Wires Tidy
There was my life before the discovery of cuttable velcro roles and there will be my life after it.
Cable management is really useful to reduce the visual clutter of your gear. I’m slowly getting better at it.
I picked up a few spools of cuttable velcro and got to work on all the wires in the room to make sure that everything was reasonably tidy.
Because we rent, I want to use solutions that won’t peel paint off the property. I use 3M-backed wire clamps to keep the ethernet wires tidy while they’re running aboard the skirting board.
— Cuttable velcro and velcro cable ties. (Available from Amazon).
Monitor Speakers And Headphones For Audio And Video Editing
For the past year, I’ve been slowly getting into YouTube-ing and video production.
Besides, listening to music over headphones all day gets boring. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
Both studio speakers and studio headphones are extremely useful for video and audio editing. They replicate the sound you’re editing as accurately as possible.
These are the first pair of halfway-decent speakers that I’ve ever owned in my life. Because I didn’t know much about what I was looking for, I turned to the good people at /r/BudgetAudiophile. I’m extremely happy with them.
The over ear studio monitors are the Audio Technica ATH-M20Xs. Also a pleasure to listen to.
What I’m using:
RGB Spot Lighting Clamped Onto The Shelving Unit — And Magnetized Into It
My home office could possibly be described as a workspace that also functions as a guest bedroom and a YouTube production studio. It’s a busy place.
But because it’s also a fundamentally small space, I had to get creative about where to mount lighting for the videos.
Mostly, I use a small LCD lighting panel that I telescope upwards using the Ulanzi MT-34 Multi-Function Tripod — one of the most useful pieces of mounting gear I’ve ever purchased. I use a clip mount to affix it one of the shelves (there’s a quarter inch thread on the top of it).
When I can muster up the energy to do so, I have a stronger panel light that I keep on a webcam scissor unit. I try to keep my desk as free from clutter as possible, so I put these away when I’m not using one. A typical setup is one for the fill light and another for the webcam.
These are the MT-34s set up on my desk.This would be a pretty typical recording setup for YouTube vlogging.
The MT-34 has a surprisingly decent telescopic length. And I can position one behind one of the screens and inflex it downwards (there’s a ball bearing on the top of it).
Recently, I’ve been trying to improve the background lighting in my videos. The Hyllis shelf ends up looking a bit dull. I decided to buy a couple of RGB lighting bars.
Because the Hyllis is made of steel, if you can find ones with magnetic backing, you can affix and move them about very easily.
I also have a floor-based mount stand for whenever I need to record audio. And a tripod for video.
Some Random Tech Accessories I’m Waiting To Try Out
This summer, I picked up quite a few video accessories. My plan is to really focus on this during the winter. I’m hoping that it’s going to be a great creative outlet.
The Comica TraxShot is an extremely interesting microphone concept that I’m extremely excited about trying out. In fact, it’s one of very few transformational microphones on the market (you can swivel the microphones in different directions).
A Compact HP Laser Printer And A Few Folders
I try to digitize as much as possible.
I have an IP network scanner in another room which I use for that purpose and would love to own one of those portable scanning wands (what can I say — I triage my purchases!)
Nevertheless, there are some things that have to be printed on paper. Because it’s a small workspace, I use the HP M15W which is a compact laser printer. It works great.
A Noise Pollution Survival Kit
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been sensitive to sound.
Perhaps sensitivity is the wrong word.
Noise pollution really grates on my nerves. Unfortunately, it feels like I’ve lived in close proximity to a building site for more years then not over the past 5 years.
- A white noise generator for sound masking. I’ve been using the LectroFan to good effect for many years now.
- Earplugs. To say I have a collection would be an enormous understatement.
I introduced a globetrotting CEO friend to this appliance who formerly packed a fan (as in an actual fan) for it white noise producing qualities. There is a better way. This is that way.
(The combination of noise masking and passive noise isolation, which is basically what earplugs do, can be really effective).
As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of online shopping. If I had to make a list of the top 5 things I’ve ever purchased from the internet, the LectroFan would likely be on it.
A Handheld Label Printer
Label printers are extremely useful and this would probably be on my list too.
Currently on my wish list: a heat shrink-wrap printer for labelling ethernet cabelling. This I use for just about everything else. You can sometimes find me roving the house in the early hours of the morning sticking labels on plug adapters.
A Stuffed Animal Clutching A Beer
Don’t tell me that there’s an age limit on stuffed animal ownership — particularly when they’re holding a beer.
When half your clients are overdue on their invoices and you’re too exhausted to remember what the other half are even called …he’s there. No food (or beer) required.
I’ve finally gotten the hang of budgeting. But it’s still nice to dream.
My plans for V 1.2 include:
- A motorized remote tripod system
- Acoustic paneling
- A surround sound system
Things This Workspace Has That Your Average Startup Space Doesn’t
I love remote working. And I absolutely love working in this space.
Hybrid working is fine. But if you can structure your way in a day that gives you plenty of reasons to get out of the house and meet people — like shooting YouTube videos — I think that fully remote can be great too.
If you got to the sound sensitivity part, you probably won’t be surprised to hear me tell you that I hate open offices. Not my thing at all. I find the visual clutter and the noise pollution overwhelming.
I’ve yet to see a workspace where I’m based that wasn’t almost entirely configured in this way. Workspaces are weird. Research has repeatedly shown that open plan offices are detrimental to concentration and productivity and yet most employees who enquired about what their workspace would look like at a company would get laughed out of the interview.
When you see the CEO working in the bullpen, you know that all hope is lost.
Quiet writers like me often prefer spaces like these to work from. Things I have that your average startup worker doesn’t where I live:
- A door
- A custom built computer
- Studio speakers to blast music
- Lots of tech toys to play around with during the day (okay maybe that they do).
Thanks for reading.