Help Me Improve My Office Environment

I am one of those unlucky people who work from a home office. Most times I do not mind this as having the ability to control my environment makes me much more productive than being in an office. On most fronts, I like how things are. My office is in a loft in my house. Once I am up in the office, I am isolated from the rest of the house. I do not hear the doorbell, the house phone, or any other distraction. I've got all my tech books up there and all the right office equipment so things are pretty much how I want them. Pretty much.

The one area I am not satisfied is in my computer management. As you can see in the photo below, I have 2 desktops and 2 laptops managed through 3 monitors, 3 mice and 3 keyboards. What I don't have is enough desk space and I feel a little cramped. Before you ask, yes, I need all of those computers. I don't, however think that the keyboards, mice and monitors are optimally set up and I do think there is room for improvement.

Dan Wilson

Since most of my readers are smarter than I, I'd like to ask how you have your office set up. Do you think it is configured for maximum productivity? Why or why not?

Feel free to email me your picture of your office setup. I'll post them here in this email along with your name.

Shannon Hicks:

Russ Johnson:

Dan Skaggs:

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9/18/08 5:00 PM # Posted By Justice


One thing you could do is ditch the extra PC keyboard / mouse and use Synergy. It will basically share a keyboard/mouse between X number of full computer/monitor combinations. Works great for my home PC to hook to my mac laptop, and you could actually control all 4 systems from a central input location.


9/18/08 6:34 PM # Posted By Scott Bennett


synergy is good, but I prefer Desktop Rover by Neslo Software.

I have used both and desktop rover was easier to configure and I had less problems with it (Although that may have changed with more recent versions of synergy as I last used it about 3 years ago).

9/18/08 9:05 PM # Posted By Jim Priest

Dude. That is WAAAAAY too neat.

I'd go with something like Synergy or Desktop rover. I still have a KVM floating around here I used for years when I had several servers running but those cables are a PITA.

9/18/08 10:24 PM # Posted By Shannon Hicks

First off, my setup:

I still have the 4 monitors, but now they're all hooked up to a single Mac Pro. I use VMWare for all the PC instances I need. My laptop is strictly a to-go workstation, and is rarely ever in the office. The top monitors are mounted to the wall using standard TV mounting brackets. I opted for the ones with extendable arms, but I ended up not really using that feature.

Suggestions for Dan's setup:

1. Get a KVM. There are super-complex ones that do multiple monitors, which would be perfect for a compact workspace like this, and there are ones that work with cat5 cables, which works well for longer distance. There are also once that work over IP, but I've not had the best of luck with those.


2. Eliminate as many computers as possible. Modern CPUs and 64bit os's give enough ram and cycles to power several operating systems at the same time through virtualization. I jest about switching to a Mac, but dual quad-core Xeons and up to 32Gb of ram will easily replace multiple desktops.

9/19/08 9:24 AM # Posted By Andy Matthews

I have a Mac Mini and a PC workstation which share the same keyboard and mouse via a kick-ass KVM switch. It's one of the best ones I've used and it's cheap as chips as well. It's be a company called IOGear and it's only $27 on

It manages PC and Mac, and automatically does the conversion between the Windows key and the Apple key for you. It allows you to use right click with your Mac (assuming you're using a 2 button mouse), and you switch between multiple computers with a double click on the scroll lock key on your keyboard.

I couldn't work properly without this, or something very much like it.

9/20/08 5:00 PM # Posted By Kim Ashley

TONS of great examples on LifeHackers "Coolest Workspace" contest.

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