Workspace evolution

Workspace evolution

In this article I will tell you how I improved my workspace in 12 iterations and how it affected my life. During improvement I followed ergonomics best practices.

TL;DR — key learnings

  • Create comfort — your neck, back, hands and legs should feel comfortable. Do follow ergonomics guidelines.
  • Standing desk is the best investment I made. It helped me to avoid falling asleep and be more focused.
  • External trackpad is better than mouse because you can perform elegant gestures. Change my mind.
  • Laptop stand is not obvious, but a worthwile investment that enables you to take advantage of your laptop’s screen, while keeping comfort for your neck.
  • Light affects your productivity — the more, the better.
  • More monitors = more apps visible simultaneously, hence more productivity.


In March 2020 our company switched to work from home (WFH) because of the pandemic. At the time I had only my work laptop and no dedicated workspace at home.

Iteration 1 — desk

I was using a dining table as my workspace and it was quite uncomfortable. Dining and working borders were erased, which I did not like. I also created other inconveniences for the people who were trying to use the dining table to eat food while I was on the video meeting with my colleagues.

So I bought the work desk.

My work desk in the center of the picture.

Iteration 2 — monitor

As a developer, I need to keep my sight in many applications at the same time. Bunch of geek stuff, you know — Xcode, terminal, browser …

I used to have a monitor at the office and it helped me a lot by providing additional screen to make more things visible. I didn’t had one at home and it dramatically decreased my productivity, because I had to constantly switch back and forth between applications (oh gosh, the code reviews…) and keep lots of information in my memory, because I couldn’t just see two things at the same time.

So I bought a monitor. And I put a soft material on the back of my chair, so it does not hurt my back.

10x engineer and his desk.

Iteration 3 — move to another room

My workspace was located in a living room — shared open space. Thus I had no privacy and was disturbed easily, because well, there were no doors. So I decided to move the “office” to my bedroom.

Having a work desk and a bed in the same room is a bad idea. Sleep and work borders will be erased. Thus I moved the bed out of my bedroom to the living room, making that room exceptionally for work (and storing my underwear…).

Now I can lock my door and no more people disturbing me at any random time.

New office place. Underwear is stored in the closet to the left.

Iterations 4 and 5 — keyboard and mouse

Working with laptop and monitor above it was uncomfortable. I had to turn my head up and down all the time, because of which my neck was tired very quickly. I decided to put laptop aside and work only with the monitor.

I hear you asking “Wait a minute, you said you bought a monitor so that you can have 2 screens and now you are trying to get rid of one?”. Well now I have bigger screen where I can fit more things (27" monitor vs 15" laptop).

Uncomfortable laptop and monitor setup.

To work with closed laptop I needed a keyboard and a mouse. So I ordered a Magic Keyboard.

Magic Keyboard in the middle.

At first I was using my old gaming mouse. Then I realized I can not perform elegant trackpad gestures using it. So I ordered a Magic Mouse.

Magic Mouse on the right.

Starting all over again

In November 2020 I quit EPAM and I had to return equipment provided by them — laptop, mouse and keyboard. This gave me a chance to re-envision my workspace and start all over again.

Returned equipment.

Iteration 6 — bring the lights on!

Low lighting makes people sleepy and less focused. So I bought a desk lamp and changed my room lamp to a brighter one. That helped me to be less sleepy after the sunset.

Many lights on my desk.

Iteration 7 — trackpad and keyboard

Same as in iteration 4 and 5, but this time I used smaller keyboard without ugly numpad. I also changed mouse to trackpad and I love it so much! It enabled me to use graceful gestures available on Macs native trackpads. Don’t use mouse, use trackpad (unless you work with graphics software or use non Mac computer).

Apple Keyboard and Trackpad 2 under the monitor.

Iteration 8 — laptop stand

Laptop was occupying lots of space on the table. I decided to put it on the stand.

Mac on laptop stand to the left.

Iteration 9 — standing desk

This is my best investment so far! Now with height adjustable desk I don’t fall asleep while working (I did a lot). Also the desk is wide and long enough to accomodate many items.

Desk at sitting height.

Desk at standing height.

Iteration 10— yet another laptop stand

I underestimated the number of apps I need to work on simultaneously at Uber. I urgently needed a second monitor. So instead of buying another monitor, I decided to change laptop stand to take advantage of its screen.

“Why don’t you just open your laptop and put it on the table?” you ask me. Well, it is not ergonomic. For ergonomic setup, monitor’s top 1/3 part should be at the level of your eyes. And laptop is too low for that.

Laptop on yet another laptop stand.

Notice that laptop is now on the same base level as the external monitor, so I don’t have to constantly turn my head up and down between them.

I used this stand for a while and I can assure you – I will never use a laptop without a stand anymore. It is just so much pain for the neck.

Iteration 11 — and I bought the Herman Miller…

…and I returned it.

For 2 reasons:
a) It was comfortable, but overpriced (~$1,500).
b) I didn’t use it. I got used to work in standing pose and I just don’t use the chair. Yes. Standing. For many hours. I take a break in between though.

If you don’t know about these famous chairs just google “Herman Miller” and see why there are so much hype about them.

Comfortable chair for ~$1,500.

Iteration 12 — applying essentialism

So far I have been only adding things. It was time to get rid of non-essential stuff. I put away all unnecessary items from my desk and left only essentials. Compare with previous iteration to find what I removed :)

Final workspace, containing only essential items. Checkout my manga collection to the left.

Question to you dear reader — what should I do with that cable mess on my desk? Leave your suggestions in comments.

Bonus content — improved background

I found out that you can make a pretty cool Zoom background from your sports gear.

Pretty cool Zoom background made out of my sports gear. Yes, I snowboard. And yes, I ride a bicycle. A lot.

The end.

Thanks to Azimjon Pulatov, Azizbek Matchanov, Madina Saidova and Ummatoy Yuldasheva for reading drafts of this.

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