The COVID-19 pandemic home office transition

The ‘new normal‘ thrust upon us as a result of the coronavirus pandemic means working from home has moved from a novelty or privilege to the normal way of doing business. And that’s meant many people have rushed to convert spare rooms and corner nooks into home offices. A Facebook group I’m a member of has been sharing home office set ups and I thought I’d go into a little more detail about my set up. Although I have it in a room, most of it can fit comfortably into a small nook.

Office furniture

At the heart of every office is a desk. Mine is a low cost option from IKEA. I have a LIMMNON table top with two ADILS legs at one end and an ALEX drawer unit at the other. The top is 120cm wide and 70cm deep. It’s compact but that means there’s not a lot of room for me to leave stuff lying around. That creates a need to be disciplined about keeping clutter under control.

I chose the lowest cost LIMMNON tabletop which is just $19.99 (all my prices are in Australian dollars), the ADILS legs at $5 each and the ALEX drawer unit at $120. That’s a total of $149.99. An extra $20 will let you have a coloured desktop rather than the boring matte white.

Under the desk, I have a SIGNUM tray where all the power supplies and cables are held so I don’t have a rat’s nest of cables at my feet. That’s another $12.99 from IKEA. It’s not crucial but helps keep things neat and reduces the temptation for my dogs to chew on cables. 

I have a rug under the desk as my office has a timber floor.  Again, it’s from IKEA – LUSTRUP at $29.99.

My chair is a sub-$100 one from a local office supplier, purchased a few years ago in haste. It’s comfortable enough although, if I was to change it, I’d get one without arms and better lumbar support.


I’m fortunate to have a window that lets a good amount of natural light into the room. But there are times when it’s too bright and I need to put the blinds down.

On my desk, I have a small LED desk-lamp that’s USB powered when I need a little bit of extra light at my desk. There’s a single downlight in the middle of the room but the real magic is the Nanoleaf lighting panels I have on the wall above my desk.

I should disclose that these were provided to me at no cost following a review I wrote for Lifehacker. When I need lots of light, I can set the panels to white and adjust the brightness using a smartphone app. Or, I can choose from a range of different ‘scenes’ as the panels can change colours with a tap of the app.


I use a MacBook Pro as my main computer as, until this year, I spent about 100 days a year travelling. I have that on a riser to my left, effectively giving me a second display.

When I’m at my desk, my main display is a 27-inch Samsung UHD monitor. Most of lower cost displays you’ll find are limited to HD resolution (1920 by 1080). That’s OK but I really wanted something that could handle higher resolutions.

In the past, I’d run a two-monitor system and it was fine but I found it all a little clunky. A larger, high resolution display gives me plenty of screen real estate without the hassle of dual screens.

Hiding behind the screen is an external hard drive that holds my photo library and is used to back up critical data from my computer. I also have a networked storage device with way more storage than I need that is also used for backups as well as my media library.

Hiding in the back corner is my scanner – a Fujitsu ScanSnap 1300i. Any receipts, statements or letters that come in are scanned, stored digitally and shredded.

My speaker is a Jabra Speak 710 that doubles up as a speakerphone. It’s smaller than a regular speaker set, has ‘ good enough’ sound and looks pretty cool as well.

All those bits and pieces connect through a OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock that hooks up to my MacBook Pro with a single connection making it easy for me to grab the laptop without messing about with lots of cables .

I also have an iPad (current model with an Apple Pencil) that has completely replaced my need for a pen and paper. I use an app called Notability which makes the iPad into a supercharged notepad, along with all the other things it can do.

For printing, I have a Fuji Xerox DocuPrint CM315z. Although this is in my office, it’s really a family-shared device. It’s used for school projects by the kids as well as my wife for her work. It’s a colour laser that supports double-sided printing and can be used to scan as well. Although I have the ScanSnap for documents on my desk, the DocuPrint does a much better job with photos and can double up as a copier as well.

My nook

One corner of the office space is set up with a comfy lounge chair and small lamp. That’s a quiet space that anyone in the house can use when they want to read, play on a small gaming device or listen to music in solitude.

It’s also a place where, when I’m in research mode, I can sit back with my iPad and read away from my desk. 

It’s also important, for me, to have a thinking and researching space that I can move to during the day when I’ve spent too much time at the desk.

Adjacent to the nook I have a shelf with some favourite knick-knacks. Things like action figures and a Sonos speaker so I can listen to some tunes or a podcast while I’m relaxing and reading.