The ultimate home office set up
Through the dozens of virtual keynotes I’ve been doing since the pandemic hit, along with the work I do for the How I Work podcast, I get a lot of questions about my set up.
“Why is your image so clear?”
“Where do you record your podcast interviews from?”
“Do you record from a professional recording studio?”
The answer to all of those questions is that I have a dad who is an electrical engineer and computer programmer and does a hell of a lot of research to tell me what to buy and how to set it up.
So in this post, I want to take you through the key bits of equipment in my home office and how I have created what for me is the ultimate home office set up.
For context, I should also add that as of January 2021, Inventium officially became a remote-first organisation. We made this decision midway through 2020 and since then, I’ve gradually been improving my home office set up.
While I don’t recommend that you need to mirror my exact set up (that would be overkill for the average at-home worker), there might be a few things here to take inspiration from.
Computer – iMac 27″
For the last decade of my working life, I have used a MacBook laptop – oscillating between 13″ and 12″ screens. I needed my computer to be portable as my pre-COVID schedule required me to travel 1-2 times per fortnight either interstate or overseas. And I like to travel light. But since the pandemic hit and all my commitments moved to being virtual, I decided it was time to think about investing in a “real” computer.
I used an iMac 27″. And now that I’ve been using it for the better part of a year, I struggle to switch back to a laptop on the rare occasions I’m on the move and working outside of my home. It’s super fast and super big. And even though most of my work involves writing or speaking (as opposed to work that traditionally benefits from a large screen and fast processor, such as graphic design or video editing), it’s been a game changer. I love being able to fill the huge screen with a Word document or Keynote file. And I love being able to see fellow virtual meeting participants on the big screen.
Dell 27″ 4k monitor
Another computer-related game changer for me was moving to a two-screen setup. I used to think the two-screen set up was just for video editor types and those finance folk who seem to require having 15 spreadsheets up at the one time. But no! It’s for people like me too! It’s dramatically reduced the amount of CMD-TABing I do and is also super helpful for virtual keynotes so I can see my slides as well as my notes at the same time.
Canon XA20 video camera
I’ve experimented with a few webcams this year such as the Logitech Brio (which was pretty good) and the HuddleCam HD Pro (which I found impossible to get the colour mix right). And then, after being inspired by Job van der Voort’s set up, I asked my dad if he could hook up this Canon video camera which I would use for filming online training videos to my computer. I think it’s been a game changer. I love that I can be in focus while the background is blurry. Looks super profesh.
Elgato Cam Link 4K
This is the device that turns the video camera into a webcam.
Shure KSM8 dynamic microphone
I own two of these beautiful microphones, which I purchased nearly three years ago when I started the How I Work podcast. If you are looking for a high end-ish microphone, I recommend going to a shop and trying out a few. I learnt that different microphones sound better for different voices. There were some mikes that came highly recommended but I just didn’t like the tone they produced with my voice. But I do love this one.
I should add that this mike is overkill if your only use for it is meetings. But if you are looking for something in between the quality of the inbuilt mike in your laptop or on your AirPods, I did love the Blue Yeti which I used for a few months before I merged my home podcast studio with my “work” computer.
Focusrite Scarlett2 2i2
This is the device that connects the mike to the computer.
Sound Devices MixPre-6
I learnt my lesson the hard way about recording backup audio for all podcast interviews. I now use the MixPre-6 for all recordings for my back up. And back in the days where I could actually interview my How I Work guests in person, I would take the MixPre-6 out as my portable recording device. It’s amazing at cutting out background noise and is super simple to use.
Lights – Elgato Key Light Air x 2
Over the last 12 months, I’ve experimented with a few various ring lights, which ended up being tricky to position and annoying to look at. A great solution was getting these two Elgato Key Light Airs, which sit on either side of my computer. They give me even lighting – because they are coming from the sides. And as a very important bonus, they are not shining right in my eyes because they are set to the side.
Controller – Elgato Stream Deck
Gosh how I love my Elgato Stream Deck! It’s a little device that sits in front of my keyboard that lets me program in various shortcuts that I can do with the touch of a button. For example, if I want to switch on my lights, instead of having to go into the App which has the remote control, I can simply hit a button on my screen deck. If I want to open up my Calendar, I just press a button. If I want to open up a specific page on a website (such as Inventium’s events page), again, I can program the Stream Deck to do that at the touch of a button.
Glide Gear Teleprompter stand
A pet hate of mine (and probably millions of Zoom / MS Teams / WebEx, etc users around the world) is that you can’t look at the person on the other side AND make direct eye contact with them at the same time because the computer camera is located in a different spot to their image on the screen. So annoying!
Enter the Glide Gear TMP100 teleprompter stand which I have attached to my video camera with a Lilliput 11″ monitor. This allows me to actually make eye contact with people in video calls while I look at them directly on the screen. It’s the best!
Walking Pad Pro Treadmill
I’ve been wanting to get a treadmill desk for a while and I finally did it! It comes with a standing desk and I use it to work from and walk slowly and I also use it for phone meetings so I can take notes while working. It helps me effortlessly get to 10,000 every day without fail.
So there you have it! I’d love to know what you end up trying out – or perhaps what you are loving in your own office setup – let me know in the comments below 🙂
Dr Amantha Imber is the Founder of Inventium, Australia’s leading behavioural science consultancy and the host of How I Work, a podcast about the habits and rituals of the world’s most successful innovators.