Being a freelancer and working from home in India turned out to be different than I anticipated, primarily due to
- Budget - I don’t earn enough to splurge on a $1000 chair or a triple monitor setup
- Equipment Availability - 80% of equipment worth buying is not available in India.
- India is diverse - Where I stay (Mumbai suburbs), electricity is a not an omnipresent entity (yeah, tell me about it).
After months of tweaking, I settled on following setup:
I found only one in India fitting my needs. It is cheap (2,000 INR) and narrow (helps with my limited bedroom space). More importantly, it has keyboard deck much lower than monitor base (ergonomically correct). I still had to use books to further increase this distance.
One I have: Prima Plastics (Not available online)
I cannot understate importance of getting this right. I started experiencing lower back pain within few weeks. These injuries are recurrent and can last decades.
- Ensure good lower back support. I use an extra cushion for this.
- Chair height and keyboard placement should allow shoulders to be in relaxed state.
- Ensure chair is at good height such legs are not pressing too much against the chair cushion (that cuts off the blood flow).
- Checkout this image for ergonomics.
- Opt for a monitor with matte display, it reduces the glare. The colors are not as bright as glossy screens, but hey, for a developer it shouldn’t matter.
- IPS displays are better than TFT displays for color reproduction.
- LED backlight helps save on electricity costs.
- Opt for at least 1080p resolution if budget allows.
- Keep the brightness and contrast to appropriate levels. Mine is 25% brightness and 50% contrast. Out of the box default values are much higher.
- Ensure appropriate monitor height matching eye level. I use good old books for the same. Update: Not anymore, see next point.
- Consider mounting the monitor on the wall with adjustable arms. Update: I recently got one. Turned out to be cheap yet rock solid.
I started developing wrist pain due to sideways movements. I bought this vertical mouse, and though its not perfect, it helped a lot to alleviate the pain.
I have a split keyboard, though expensive, has been serving me well for years now. Thus, I am not aware of a good budget keyboard. I’d suggest ones with soft keys and a good wristpad.
There is not much to the webcams. They are cheap and they do their job well.
Blue light disturbs sleep cycles and complete darkness hurts the eyes. I follow these rules to maintain the right luminosity:
- Day times: Keep windows open to let surrounding (halo) light in. It should not hit the monitor directly though (to avoid glare).
- Night times: Use a warm-white bulb/tube light (I use this one). Opt for LED bulb with 3000k to 4000k temperature rating.
- Monitor lights: Use redshift or flux to limit amount of blue light monitor emits during night times.
- Android phone: Similar software for Android in case, like me, you browse in bed at night.
These might sound like overkill, but I experienced stark difference with and without them. Also, overall costs for all above points is less than 400 INR.
I stay in Mumbai suburbs where electricity is off for few hours a week.
- SMPS - Critical to get good quality SMPS for your Desktop. Low/high voltage can wreck all components. I have Seasonic S12II.
- UPS - Good UPS can give you 3-5 hours of backup. Not many options in India though - APC and extra-battery.
- Internet - Hook up router to your UPS to ensure uninterrupted internet connectivity. Worst case use Smartphone 3G hotspot.
- Laptop - I have a laptop (my backup device) for just-in-case situations. Also helps when meeting clients.
Hope this helps. Comment below if you need any help/advice.
Happy working from home!
Remember, wish is different than reality, and that is okay :)
Wish (Photo credit: acflynn flickr)