18 Replies
Hour-Zero

Chris,

I would highly recommend you get an ergonomist to help you with this. You
will save yourself an untold amount of grief and injury by having them look
at your space and ensure you create the right set-up.

There are too many cases of people trying to save a couple of dollars
upfront, and then pay through back problems, carpal tunnel, head aches from
lighting, etc. If have a flex health plan - the cost of having the
ergonomist work with you may even be covered. Even you don't have a health
plan or it is not covered, it is well worth the investment. Consider this
business case - the cost of an ergonomist is probably less than one day of
lost income due to an injury resulting from a poor set-up.

Good luck.

Donna

Bob S

Chris,

A thought regarding sound proofing....  Remember the #1 solution to sound intrusion is to stop the movement of vibrating air molecules (ie sound) into the space. In the home, that is usually the antithesis of a comfortable work space with good ventilation/air flow. 

So you may want to think of ways to seal things off only when really needed. Other options include creating a sub-divided space you can seal off just for recording (ie a booth).  Also, if you are truly building from the framing out, there are some low-ish cost things you can do like double sheetrocking the walls, and medium cost solutions like off-set staggered studs. But in the end it all comes down to stopping the vibrating air from entering or exciting something else in the room that then re-emits the noise.

And yes, some will talk about room treatments (eg sound absorbing squares on the walls), but remember those are mostly focused improving sound quality, not limiting sound intrusion.

Good luck!

Matthew Bibby

Chris, I have a set up that works great for me. Here are some details:

Desk: GeekDesk - being able to sit or stand as needed has helped me immensely with back pain and posture.

Chair: Herman Miller Aeron - while expensive, it by far the most comfortable office chair I've owned. As someone who often spends upward of 10 hours a day at a desk, comfort and ergonomics are important.

Computer: iMac, Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014. 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 32GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 4096MB graphics (running windows via VMWare Fusion for SL).

Second monitor: 24-inch Cinema display (died last week, waiting for new ones to be released before I replace it. Working with one screen is very frustrating).

External storage: Drobo 5D, 16TB (setup for dual disk redundancy) with a SSD accelerator. This is split in two, half for Time Machine and half for backups of old project files. I also have another 2TB HDD that has a bootable copy of my HDD (so if my iMac dies, I can borrow my daughters laptop and be back at work in less than 15mins).

Cloud storage: Backblaze.  (For if my house burns down, all my office stuff gets stolen etc.)

Audio: A very old set of Harman Kardon Soundsticks. Currently more than half of the speaker are held in place with sticky tape! I also have a pair of Sennheiser Momentum's for when the kids are being too noisy or I really need to focus.  

Mouse: Evolent VerticalMouse 3 (wireless) + mac trackpad (handy for gestures, it's stuck to the left of my keyboard via a magicwand).

I also have a HoverBar attached to my second monitor to hold an old iPad 2 I use for testing. 

And most importantly, a painting that my grandma did for her mother. It hangs above my desk, reminding me of what is most important in life, i.e. Family and friends. 

Any questions, let me know.

Chris Chagnon

Mathew,

Thanks for the extensive breakdown of your setup.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  I especially like your comment about the painting.  I have a beautiful wife and an amazing 3 year old son.  I remind myself everyday how lucky I am.  I plan on having family pictures in the office.

Rachel Barnum

I just moved, so I don't really have a space set up but I can tell you about my hardware and everything.

Hardware:

  • PC - Razer Blade Pro: (2013, so the one linked is a little newer) - while I consider a decent processor and graphics card essential in a work computer, having that SSD in it just makes my life so much better
  • Microphone - Blue Snowball: (I just do sample audio for courses, not professional)
  • Spare Monitor: Some Acer model from a couple years ago, since my laptop has a good screen, I cheaped out a little here.
  • Mouse: This cheapo one - I got it as a temporary mouse but it's worked quite well

Software (besides Storyline and Adobe Products):

  • Storage, Note Taking - Microsoft Home Subscription: Microsoft Home subscription ($10/mo) - In addition to the other products, it comes with a terabyte of storage through OneDrive. OneDrive syncs to your computer like Google Drive or Dropbox, and due to the sheer size of it and capabilities, it has practically replaced my local drives for storage. I also really like OneNote over Evernote for note taking and even project management with their "to-do" tags.
  • Time Tracking - Harvest: I was often tapped into my client's project management systems, so getting my own typically wasn't needed. And I used OneNote. However, I really liked Harvest for time tracking and billing. Inexpensive and easy to use.
  • Project Management - Trello: For the few times I did need to use my own project management software, Trello was free so it was the one picked to use. I've also used Asana to some degree of success.

Day to Day:

I worked from home for about a year, and I lived in small studio with 2 dogs so it was a bit cramped to have an ideal office space. However, to get myself going, I always did the following:

  • Go get breakfast or coffee - this was one expense I just decided to have for my own sanity. Something about completing a task outside of the apartment that was for myself before starting work was super helpful. The dogs got a short walk in the morning, then a longer one in the afternoon to break up the monotony.
  • Separated accounts for work & home - my computer had 2 different accounts on it, when I worked, I signed into my "work" account that had a different background, layout, etc. When I signed out of that account, I had "left work" for the day.
  • Letting in the light - I would open the window next to my desk or making sure my lamp was on. Even in my desk at work, I have the habit of turning on and off the light when I arrive and leave while some of my coworkers don't use the lights or just leave them on all the time. Kind of the mini version of entering and leaving a room.
Daniel  Scibienski

Hi Chris, 

I recently started working at home as well.  Here are some suggestions and tools that I have found helpful. 

BUYING STUFF

Check out The Wirecutter for in-depth reviews of products.  They have a specific small office section which might prove useful to you as you consider new purchases.  I followed their recommendation for a standing desk from Jarvis and I am quite happy with it. 

I find having an external larger screen monitor incredibly helpful when working with a variety of programs from Google Sheets to Screenflow.   

Sometimes you don't realize how much noise surrounds you until you attempt to record a voice over at home.  Sirens, neighbors, birds/insects and more can easily end up as background in your sound files.  Will you be recording sound files regularly?  Maybe there is an alternative and quieter location that you could go to if you are only recording infrequently.  It would give you a chance to get out, experience a different environment and potentially save money on soundproofing at home.  

Other gear:

  • Blue Snowball Microphone 
  • Logitech wireless mouse (charge lasts a long time and it's comfortable)

TRANSITION

Going from working in an office, school or other environment to home can be both awesome and challenging.  I agree with the suggestions offered above.  It may take time for you to figure out what type of schedule is most productive for you.  

Here are few thoughts:

Create calendar events for specific tasks, either work-related or not.  This act of creating an event helps increase the likelihood that you will complete it and prevents others from scheduling at that time. 

Get out of the house.  Meet a friend for coffee, find other remote workers, go to a coworking space or library when you need a change.  

Fill your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks.  Most likely now you will be much closer to the potato chips than you were in an office.  

Consider a sign on the door that lets family know your status.  Green = feel free to come in, yellow = please knock and red = do not disturb. 

I'll add more if something else comes to mind. 

Good luck and take care, 

Daniel 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob Swanson

I'm going to throw in my lowball method for professional-level audio.

Start with a condenser mic. At work I have one with a pre-amp; at home, a USB straight into the computer.  I use a hanging arm to suspend the mic with a sound-foam half-round behind it. Then two additional foam tiles beside it, with another foam tile directly on top.  The rest of the room is hard surface.  I record into Audacity - which is free. Then do noise removal for background noise, equalize and normalize. 

Cost a total of $30 and it's professional quality.  Without the foam cage it's echo-y. With, no echo and nice warm tones.