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The Best Gear for Remote Work

 

Due to recent events, a lot of people are working from home lately. I’ve been working from home for the past 7 years, and I know a thing or two about how to be presentable on calls and fully present at my job.

There are many great posts about mental health, self-care, and overall presentability in a remote gig. Here’s my favorite. This post is strictly for the gear you’ll need – and it’s short by design, so that you can buy what you need and get back to work.

In short, you need to look good, sound good, sit comfortably, and have a decent background.

Sounding good

You need to eliminate background noise and sound clear on all of your calls – and your laptop’s default microphone absolutely won’t cut it.

The budget pick: Blue Yeti. It’s a USB microphone that plugs straight into your computer, without the need for a USB interface. If you have a computer that only has USB-C ports, like a MacBook Pro, you’ll need a $8 adapter to make this work.

You’ll also need headphones, so that you don’t annoy the people around you when getting on calls. I use the Sony MDR-7506 when I’m on my computer.

The upgrade

If you want a professional mic setup, you’ll need a professional mic – and that means one that takes an XLR input, which has been the analog gold standard for mics since time immemorial.

The mic that I use is a Shure Beta 87a supercardioid. All you need to know about the difference between “cardioid” and “supercardioid” mics is that cardioid mics pick up more room noise. You don’t want that if all you’re using this for is your voice. I added on a windscreen so you don’t hear my voice’s pops & clicks. It makes me sound amaing.

Then, you need a cable to connect the mic to your USB interface. I use Mogami cables, which are overkill and amazing. They will last you forever.

You will also need a mic stand. I use Røde’s PSA 1, but if you want to save money or can’t clamp a boom arm to your desk, this one works well enough.

Finally, you will need a USB interface to convert your microphone’s XLR signal to USB, so it can be usable by your computer. I use Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2, but Tascam’s US-2x2 works fine with Shure’s mics and costs a little less.

All of this gear is expensive compared to the Yeti, but it offers a vast bump in quality and lasts effectively forever. I never plan on replacing any of it.

Looking good

I use my default iMac webcam with iGlasses to adjust exposure & sharpening. That being said, you don’t want to appear backlit – and my office’s window is behind me and to my left. That means I need to get a light panel in order to look good from the front.

I use Fovitec’s bi-color LED panel to do the trick, along with this tripod – but this panel also does the trick if you want to save some money.

If you want a webcam upgrade – and you might, especially if you find yourself on lots of video calls – Logitech makes the best ones. The C922 is the gold standard, but if you have a USB-C port to spare, the Brio is a major upgrade pick that furnishes 4K video.

Sitting comfortably

Ergonomics absolutely matter if you’re working remotely.

I use an Aeron chair at home – and if I had to get a standing desk today, I’d get the Jarvis.

I use this wrist rest with an Apple Magic Keyboard and a Logitech MX Master mouse. For a big ergonomic upgrade to your keyboard, consider a Kinesis.

Clean up your space

It’s important for your video calls to look presentable. That means you need to tidy up the area that’s behind your computer. Overflowing bookshelves are not a good look. Think simplicity, houseplants, and lots of sun.

I don’t have any gear recommendations for this. You can find the sun by looking at the sky.

Wrapping up

This all looks like a lot, but now is a good time to consider your remote gear setup, especially since more and more work is going to go remote in the future. Create your space, clean up for the job, and take care of yourself. You’ve got this.

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