What I Found From the Home Office of One of the Directors at Shopify
I have to feel good at where I work. Then I’m the most productive.
When I don’t like my work environment, I feel my brain is cluttered and I often stare at the screen without doing anything useful...
This is what I found from John Riordan’s home office in Ireland that inspired me to make changes in my own home.
I started to use a dedicated space for work
John has a dedicated office room in his home. Everything is set up so that he feels good and productive there. This is his place for work.
I’m constantly finding myself working from the living room couch. I tell myself it’s because I can then be more involved in the family life.
But when I’m splitting my attention between kids and work at the same time, I’m not present with any of my activities and my output is not that valuable. Not for the kids, not for the work.
I do have a small corner all by myself in the bedroom next to my bed. Okay, I have to move to another room when one of my daughter is napping at noon, and once again in the late evening when my wife goes to sleep.
But I started to use this space every day to keep my workplace separate from rest of the apartment life. I’m now more concentrated while I work and I get more done with less time.
And I still occasionally take my laptop to the couch while I drink my coffee to work on something small that doesn’t take my full attention.
For example, I like to just randomly browse through RemoteHub and improve small things here and there.
I switch between standing and sitting more often
John has bought himself a lightweight Readydesk standing desk that he has put onto his regular table.
It has these adjustable work shelves that you can move up to the right level for your height, so you can keep your elbows in a 90 degrees angle and top of the screen at your eyes level.
This keeps neck pain away.
I know it’s good for my body to change the position once in a while and I’ve always thought that someday I will buy an electronic desk that I can move up and down to switch between standing and sitting positions.
When RemoteHub starts to make more money.
When I have more space in my home.
I have to look down to the screen, so it’s not the best solution to use for a long time. But I’ll try it out.
I lifted my laptop’s screen to my eyes level
John is using Roost stand when working from outside of his home office. This raises the laptop’s screen higher so he won’t have to look down and put a pressure on his shoulders.
“One of the devices that I love is this thing called Roost. It’s a laptop stand and it’s a way of actually angling your laptop so that when you’re in a coffee shop and you have a bluetooth keyboard and trackpad, it’s sitting up and it’s got the right angle so I don’t endure any neck pain.”
I’m always working from my laptop, even in my home and behind a desk. I’ve been constantly looking down to my screen and I often felt pain in my neck.
I put a bunch of books under my laptop to raise the top of the screen to my eyes level and started to use my bluetooth keyboard and a mouse from the bottom of my drawer that I once bought.
I felt the difference within a day. I’m now looking straight ahead to the screen and my neck pain is already gone.
John shared some more tips to improve the home office experience.
Tip 1: Make sure you get a correct audio from your microphone
John is using a quality headset that brings the microphone close to the mouth for a better audio recording.
“I have a Jabra headset which I love. And this is really helpful to make sure that you get the correct audio because after all it’s fine for it to be okey for you, but you have to make sure it’s okay for people on the other end.”
Tip 2: Use a standing mat that forces you to move
John has used this for at least a couple years when he’s standing behind his desk.
“This is one great little thing as well, which is an Ergomat, a standing mat and I use this all the time to stand on it. Because it has different heights it actually forces you to continually move during the day and it’s makes a huge difference.”
Tip 3: It’s important what you put in that little box behind you
While you may have a nice-looking home office, people on a video call only see a little box behind you.
“When I’m on camera on a video conference call, one of the most important things for people to understand, is that all they see is this little box behind me so what I’ve put in that box behind me is incredibly important.”
I continue improving my home office
It’s hard to be productive while working from the couch with noises around me. I need a dedicated workplace that puts me in a "work mode". I’m then the most productive and get more done with less time.
And I’ve learned that there are small things I can do to improve my home office without actually buying anything new. Like putting books under my laptop and getting rid of my neck pain in one day.
You can watch the full video of John doing his home office tour.