It’s the middle of 2022 and I have been working hybrid for quite some time now. I say hybrid because I spend some time in a true office setting, but I also spend quite a bit of time working truly from my home office. What I have learned in this time is that gear needs change drastically when you are working from multiple places. While I love having gear on my desk that makes it as easy as plug and play, I also need gear that can travel with me when I work from an office, from home, from a coffee shop, or on the road. At this point in time, I have come to picture myself as having three work “zones”.
- Home Office
- Other Office
- Mobile Office
By picturing my office needs as the three previously listed zones, I have been able to create not only a great working environment everywhere that I go, but I also have come to a point where I can get nearly the same amount of work done regardless of where I am. Now granted, due to space, technology, and time constraints, every setup is different.
For each of the following products, I will mention which space or zone I utilize it in, how I utilize it, and why I chose that product. As well, I will mention any issues I have with the product after utilizing it for some time now.
The Satechi Slim Dock is currently being used at one of my two workstations I like to get work done at the office I work out of frequently throughout my week. While working out of this office, one of the computers I use by default is a new M1 iMac. While this machine is wonderful in its own right, one thing it lacks is ports. So, what I have chosen to do in rather than have a giant adapter or hub hanging off the side, or plug in a dongle (which would slow me down, causing friction, and therefore making me less productive) I have opted to utilizing this wonderful hub designed specifically for this machine. This dock hides in plain sight by fitting around the base of the iMac, extending it seamlessly. With this one hub, I am able to expand one Thunderbolt port on the back of my iMac to an external storage device via an NVMe Sata enclosure, I add a micro/SD card reader, three USB-A Ports and a USB-C data port.
All in all, this dock has helped my productivity increase as I no longer need to take out an adapter, plug it in, then get my peripheral I want to use with my iMac, I can just jump right to plugging in. The only negative I can find is that at first this seemed to be scratching the base of my iMac, but then I found an extra pad and bumpers in the packaging I just didn’t put on yet. Now, it works great!
The Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Dock boasts an impressive 11 ports in one compact formfactor. This one hub can turn your single thunderbolt 4 port into an SD Card reader, four USB-A ports, a headphone port, a mic port, three additional Thunderbolt 4 ports, an ethernet port and it can charge your device as well. Right now, this is running one of my setups and is truly a powerhouse. I can plug in my iPad Pro or MacBook and run the entire desk off of one port. If you are looking for a way to add functionality to your limited ports, this is a great way to do so.
For my home desk setup, I am currently using a standing desk. Actually, I am using a few (three to be exact). While two of these standing desks are backed up against a wall, allowing for most of the cables to be hidden, I still do not like seeing any cables hanging below my desk — especially not when they are at standing height.
Historically, I have resorted to a lot of 3M stickies and hooks to create an elaborate maze of messy cables tucked away to not be visible from most angles. However, they would fall after not too long from weight, heat, or something else. Now, I rely on this Oakywood Under Desk Organizer on my main desk, where all my power bricks and the majority of my cables lie. This allows for me to use Velcro ties to semi-permanently mount cables and power bricks to my desk, all while keeping things tidy and tucked away. This organizer was super easy to install, with just a few screws, and it even has some Velcro cable ties included.
The Mophie Speedport 45 is exclusively offered on Apple’s website. If that alone doesn’t promote the quality of this charger, I don’t know what else could. This is a GaN fast charger with 2 USB-C ports and a total output of 45W. This charger has been phenomenal to have in my bag as an easy way to make sure I can always charge both my iPhone and my iPad Pro wherever I go.
Just like I have multiple workspaces, I have multiple backpacks, and this charger stays in my quick grab backpack all the time. Perfect for running to a coffee shop and wanting to take simply the essentials.
At home workstation I test a lot of monitors. Instead of constantly swapping everything around on my desk to accommodate the new display, I have resorted to utilizing technology to help me out. That is where the Pluggable Triple Display has come in handy for me. I can, with ease, run my standard display or two setup (I change things around a lot as I learn of new tech and try different things) and then add another monitor with ease and without needing to unplug anything else on my desk. This Pluggable Dock is run via USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 allowing me to utilize it with my MacBook or any other USB-C or Thunderbolt laptop I might be working with at that time. The Plugable USB-C Triple Display Docking Station allows me to do this with the least amount of friction possible.
While the primary function for me is adding displays, this dock also has a total of four USB-A ports, a headphone jack, an audio in line, a USB-C port, an ethernet port and even a DVI port. All of this while being able to power my device as well.
For those who are looking for something a little cheaper, and do not need a full three additional monitors for your setup, check out the Plugable Universal Docking Station. This hub has two video outputs (with the option of HDMI or DVI for both), an ethernet port, a headphone jack, and six additional USB-A ports.
While I previously reviewed this phenomenal charger (click above to read more), Nomad just released a limited edition rose gold color that is absolutely worth mentioning. While at first I was skeptical, this rose gold on my desk is honestly a gorgeous off white looking color in contrast with my wooden desk and dark accessories. All around, this is still my favorite charger to use with my iPhone.
At first, I thought lighting like this was a joke. I didn’t see the value in adding a fancy (and expensive) light to my already lit office space. However, once adding this to my space, I found that it creates an incredible ambiance that a regular lamp could not create. Not only that, but it has created for some really cool backdrops for pictures, virtual meetings, and even just relaxing in the space. These lights were super easy to set up, and even told me in the companion app how to do so. Once set up, I have full control without any additional products needed. I can sync with music, set up custom programs, or even have it sync with my smart home. Currently, this is on the wall next to my home office, so when I am working and need some energy, I can change it to be more of an energetic light pattern. If I am in a meeting, it can provide for great face lighting, or if I am relaxing, I can turn it dim and have it work great for that as well.
Govee’s lighting continues in my home working space with the Dreamview G1 Pro lighting pack. Now I’m no hardcore gamer, but I do love good lighting. I was able to take these lights and use them in a really unique way. My secondary desk at my home office was almost exactly the same length as the light strip. I took the adhesive hooks, and adhered them to the part of my desk that would normally be closest to the wall on the back edge. Then I ran the strop behind my desk giving a cool effect bouncing the light off the wall. Next, I took the light arms and put them on either side of my monitor pointing in towards the monitor, also washing the color on the wall. While I don’t game, I don’t need these colors sync’d with anything. And therefore, since I am using preset or pre-determined colors, I did not care to have the strip just behind the monitor. This worked great for my space, and shows just how versitile Govee truly is.
With the rise of virtual meetings continuing to grow, I knew I needed a quality solution that not only made it easier for those I am meeting with to hear me, but also for me to be able to hear them clearly. I chose to check out the Kensington H1000 because it has a super easy to use headset and had some really nice features. Some of those include buttons built in to the cable to quickly mute and unmute, as well as turn volume up and down. The headphones are comfortable, the mic all around sounds pretty good, and the functionality for virtual meetings is superb. I can mute and unmute confidently without having to fumble for the virtual button that always seems to cause problems in meetings.
The previously mentioned headset pairs phenomenally with this Kensington Audio Switch. This little device can sit on a desk and become the conference control center. It can connect to a physical line (i.e. USB-C to a host computer) and two other devices via Bluetooth connections. Where this becomes very helpful is when you connect a headset. Now, regardless of what device you are connected to, it can be heard through the same headset. Another way to put it, if you have a single headset, you can switch between listening to your work meeting on your work laptop, and your music off of your phone or tablet with a single press of a button.
Beyond the capabilities of linking multiple devices to the same headset, this grouping of buttons is incredibly helpful in virtual meetings due to the quick commands. Nobody likes waiting to be unmuted or clicking unmute, waiting, and clicking it again to only re-mute yourself. This little addition to your desk has a physical mute button that lights up clearly indicating when you are muted and when you are not.
Outside of the Workspace
These two items don’t necessarily help my dedicated office space, but help me get a lot more done throughout my workday, and are worth mentioning as they are part of why I can be so productive throughout my day.
My wife and I are trying desperately to grow back our lawn after moving in to our new house. With me running all over the place during the day, there is no chance that I can make it out in regular intrevals to turn on and off the sprinkler. One thing that has made that significanly easier for me is this new Eve Aqua outdoor faucet attachment. This attachment simply goes between the hose and the facuet, granting smartphone control to the water flow. This has been so incredibly beneficial for me as I can set whatever sprinkler in our yard to turn on at certain times, without worry that it’s going to leak or turn on at some other time. Even better, I have big plans to create my own in-ground smart sprinkler system with this at the brain. In short, that plan is to buy an in-ground sprinkler system that I can install myself, and then run the hose back to a split off of my backyard faucet. One side of that split will be always on, run through my Eve Aqua, and then to the buried sprinklers. Then, at preset times throughout the day/week, my entire yard will be able to get watered without needing to move a sprinkler, at a fraction of the cost of having a professional system put in.
I get a thousand packages a week. Not really, but I know my delivery drivers by name and I see them enough to consider inviting them to my next holiday party. With all of those packages, I was tired of cutting them open with a key, a pocketknife, or finding a pen in my office. While I normally carry a knife with me in my EDC, I didn’t always have one with me during my early morning working sessions in my office before getting ready for the day. So, I decided to put a stop to the madness and pick up a proper office knife. Gerber recently released their crazy affordable (currently $60) knife and I thought it might just be too good to be true. The Gerber Slimsada is incredibly solid in build and is honestly just fun to use. Opening it has a ball bearing mechanism that feels very smooth, there’s D2 steel and a wonderful grip handle. My one bummer with this knife is that with the pocket clip not being able to move, I would have to carry this in my right pocket or risk having the knife open in my pocket. However, since this is a desk knife for me, I saw no reason to avoid buying it for something I won’t use it for. This knife is perfect for opening all of my gear in a safe and fun way, making every box I recieve an even more exciting and fun experience.