Improve Your Home Office - Input/Output Devices

My home office, which sadly can use some better cable management.

I am writing a multi-part article on the topic of improving your home office.

  • Part 1 was mostly a public service announcement to be aware of your home office and to evaluate it.
  • Part 2 explores the physical aspects (e.g., room/space, desk, and chair).
  • Part 3 (this one) explores the input/output aspects (e.g., monitor, keyboard, mouse/trackpad, audio, and video).
  • Part 4 explores the miscellaneous aspects (e.g., lighting, organization, climate, and personalizations).

The input and output devices are the interfaces that exist between you and your workspace. You’ll want devices that offer sublime interactions that reduce friction and bring great pleasure to your work. This will make working in your space a joy instead of a burden. This is paramount in collaborative tasks as poor devices can hinder the experience for everyone.


If you are using a laptop, the screen size and location of it relative to your keyboard and yourself play a critical role in ergonomics. You can elevate your laptop’s screen to an optimal height using a laptop stand for improved ergonomics. If your space permits it, you can extend your display with an extra monitor or two.

An extra monitor are wonderful investments for a dedicated home office – they provide a larger workspace. When purchasing a monitor, make sure it is tailor to your needs. Monitor arms are a great way to minimize monitor footprints and maximize your physical workspace. If your desk supports these it opens up the flexibility to position your monitor at the perfect location.

To take your display further, make use of multiple monitors. You can get creative with combinations of monitor arms and the position/orientation of your multiple monitors. You could also consider ultrawide monitors – single unit monitors that offer similar space advantages as multi-monitors without the added bezel separating the monitors.

The following resources are recommended readings:


For a home office, we’ll have to consider both audio input and audio output for effective collaboration. As a default, most people using a laptop will have their built-in speakers and mic on their device. These work in a pinch, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in quality.

A solid upgrade is using a headset as it brings the audio closer to your head. Your voice will sound better as the distance from your mouth to the mic input is closer (even better if you have a headset with a boom arm). This solution will also only broadcast audio out to your ears and not fill your space (preventing feedback and adding privacy). Given the environmental noise in your space, it might be worth looking at the noise-cancelling feature of whatever headset/earbud you decide to go with. A wireless headset is a great option if you value mobility and less clutter.

Depending on your personal preference, a good headset can support all your audio listening needs. There are some high-quality headsets out there that provide immersive and great sound quality for music. Alternatively, using external computer speakers that sit on your desk can be an attractive solution for an experience that fills your space with rich and deep sounds.

If you are looking for that professional podcasting audio sound you should look at an external USB microphone. These offer great input capture and offer much more customization and tweaking if you decide to explore that route.

At the minimum, you should probably get a headset to conduct meetings. Going for more elaborate setups and devices in this space really depends on your taste and desire.

The following resources are recommended readings:


A visual presence in collaborative meetings is a must-have in any remote working environment. Being to see each other gives meetings more of a human feel and allows each side to see facial expressions and body language.

Most laptops these days have a built-in webcam that is sufficient. There are two caveats with the built-in solution:

  1. The angle and position of the webcam is tied to your laptop itself
  2. The video quality is lacklustre

A dedicated high-quality webcam rectifies these two issues. It can be moved to optimal positions and the picture quality is far superior. If you wanted to go the extra mile, you can look at using a DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam. This is a much more expensive route, but the video quality is the best you can get.

The following resource is recommended reading:


I’d argue that the keyboard is the most used device you have. As with most things related to home offices, there is a lot of personal preference when it comes to keyboards.

There is a strong community for mechanical keyboards that offer near unlimited customization options. To start with, you can vary the size, keycaps, and key switches to fit your style. These customizations create unique typing experiences that can be more enjoyable and ergonomic.

There is also a large space for ergonomic keyboards – defined by their unorthodox physical layout. For example, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop has a defined split and curved design. Most ergonomic keyboards fall under the mechanical keyboard umbrella.

If you value a clean work surface a wireless keyboard is a nice way to minimize wire clutter. It is worth noting that oftentimes the higher-end mechanical keyboards require a wired connection.

The following resources are recommended readings:


The mouse is the original pointing input device and has been a staple for all personal computing since its inception. For most people, the mouse covers all their needs. Like previous suggestions, a wireless device provides a clean solution on a desk. The vertical mouse is a more ergonomic variant.

The trackball mouse is an ergonomic departure from a traditional mouse in the sense that you move your cursor by spinning a ball on a fixed mouse. The idea is that you reduce arm motion and you an keep your hand and arm in an ergonomic position. If desk space and/or ergonomics are a concern, this type of mouse might be a good solution.

Most people are familiar with trackpads – almost, if not every, laptop comes with one. Using an external trackpad occupies less space than a mouse and is usually wireless. You gain access to gestures based on your operating system, and using them feels fairly intuitive.

Poor ergonomics can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome – if needed, switch up your device to relieve the discomfort.

The following resources are recommended readings:

Powerful Subtle Interfaces

The interactions between yourself and a computer are driven entirely through input and output devices. Ergonomics is key, especially for prolonged use. Having a good set of devices allows you to focus more on your work with less hindrance. Pay attention to the purchasing cost of devices as there are diminishing returns with expensive products.