Working from home and staying healthy
For about 8 years, I’ve been primarily working from home. Over the years I made the transition from sitting 14 hours a day to being active while working. With the COVID-19 situation, more and more people are now forced to work from home. Whenever I mention the setup I have at home, people become interested and ask me all about the hardware I purchased over the years.
In the beginning…
…there was a young man, super eager to be a great developer. I worked 12 hours a day and enjoyed loved it. Besides the consultancy day jobs I had, I was working at least 4 hours a day on open source technology such as Catel. I didn’t have kids back then and I still had enough time to spend with my wife on fun stuff. Back then, I was convinced that it was important to use great hardware because I was aware that I was sitting most part of the day. This resulted in spending a lot of money on monitors, a desk and, at that time most importantly, a great chair (more on that later).
I noticed something changed after I became 30 years old. Sitting all day on a chair was taking its toll and I got less and less energy. Something had to change, but how? I need to be at a computer all day since that’s the primary tool I use for software development.
Starting to stand a few hours a day
After some investigation and asking around, a friend recommended me a sit-stand-desk. After buying one, I changed from sitting all day to standing about half of the day. This resulted in the following benefits:
- No more sitting all day
- It’s actually easier to get a cup of coffee / do something while standing, or look something up real quick on your computer
Becoming active while working
While I thought the sit-stand-desk was great, I was becoming frustrating to adjust the desk several times a day (even when it has a motor). I also noticed my body was storing more food reserves than I was used to / wanted. But I have a (physically) inactive job, right? This got me thinking: what if I could get a workout device (home trainer), saw off the steer and would use that at the standing desk. After some searching, it became clear there were other clever people that already invented such a device: the Deskbike (more on this later). Whenever I feel the urge to sit, I grab the Deskbike and can keep the desk in the same position. I have a (small) workout with the Deskbike while working. After 30 – 45 minutes, my (bike)legs are becoming tired and I go back into the stand position. This new way of working transformed my sit-stand-desk into a stand-desk.
Working out while working
This standing and biking got me really active. It actually motivated me to go a bit further. I wanted to become stronger: my kids are becoming more heavy while they grow, and I want to be able to throw them in the air as long as possible. I decided to buy some weights: a dumbbell tower which saves a lot of space, but still allows a good range of dumbbells pairs from 1 – 10 kg. There are several moments a day where I have a few minutes to spare (e.g. when compiling a large solution, waiting for tests to complete, or …). Instead of waiting, I decided to pick up a few weights and start doing (simple) excercises while waiting for the task to be completed. The great advantage of the stand-desk is that it’s super easy to grab some weights, excersize and get back to work (no need to get up and sit back down).
With the COVID-19 situation, it was no longer possible for me to get my weekly workout at the gym. I didn’t want to stop training and gain weight either during this period. After some searching, I came across HASfit. These people made (and still make) great, free on-line videos for workouts (with or without dumbbells). The advantage is that most of these workouts are short and only take between 10 and 20 minutes. This is a great way to end a day of work. This is the time most people are sitting in the car driving back home, and I decided to use that same time to do a workout instead. I can highly recommend watching these videos and stay fit while you can’t go to the gym.
Let’s jump into the hardware setup that I’ve gathered over the year to stay fit and healthy while working on a physically inactive job.
I’ve been a big fan of ergonomic keyboards from they day I started software development. I develop RSI fairly quick whenever I type on a “regular” keyboard, so this is on the top of my list. Even when I have to go to a customer with a laptop, I take one of these keyboards with me. Over the years I’ve tested and used lots of keyboards, but the ones I love the most are my GoldTouch keyboards. The main reasons I purchased the Go!2 from GoldTouch are:
Less noise (I used to have one of their regular ones, but it was quite noisy)
Less travel (the keys are flat, giving me the feeling my fingers need to travel less to hit a key)
One note on this keyboard though: I purchased both the wired and wireless one, but the wireless one is very laggy. If you decided to purchase this keyboard, make sure to purchase the wired one.
A great motorized sit-stand-desk can be bought at Ikea. Ikea has both motorized and manual sit-stand-desks, but I highly recommend using a motorized one since you will have to change heights multiple times a day. If you differentiate between sitting and standing 4 times a day, you will need to change heights 8 times a day. This is very frustrating having to do this by hand. The one I use is a BEKANT.
The Deskbike is a great way to turn your sit-stand-desk into a stand-desk. No more changing of heights: whenever you feel the urge to sit down, grab your Deskbike and transform the time you sit into an active “workout”. With most of the gadgets, whenever it loses the “new” factor, people tend to use them less and less. After more than a year of active usage, I am still using it multiple times a day, so I highly recommend it (and I think it’s not that expensive).
My monitor is fairly new, but combined with Windows PowerToys I am loving the experience. The monitor is a SAMSUNG 49″ CRG9 Dual QHD Curved QLED. Thanks to PowerToys, it’s possible to create multiple (“Fancy”) zones and quickly move apps to a specific zone.
When working from home, I’m convinced it’s still super important being able to see eachother. The reasons I purchased the Logitech BRIO are:
- Support for Windows Hello (no more typing of passwords / pins)
- 4K resolution
- Great colors / lighting, even when I turn off the lights in the office
I’ve put the chair at the bottom. It still deserves a place in this hardware setup for a few reasons:
- Not everyone wants to or can stand all day
- It’s a great chair
Whenever I was young, I knew it was very important to purchase a good ergonomic chair. At the moment, it collects dust in my office, and I only use it whenever I don’t feel very well (only reason for me to sit behind my desk instead of standing / biking). The chair I purchased is the Haworth Zody.