My perfect remote work-station

Benjamin Buchfink
8 min readDec 22, 2023
A japanese bamboo forrest
Japanese bamboo forrest— Can you spot me?

For the last 14 years I’ve worked as a software engineer in a small German company. Back in 2019 [that’s pre-covid] my wife got an offer to study in Japan for one semester and I wanted to come along.

Exploring remote work

So, I talked to HR and we came to the conclution, that I can work from very remote — with 8 hours time distance. While other collegues had worked from remote occasionally, I was coming into office almost every day until then. That’s were I had my assigned desk, with all that I needed to complete my work: monitors, keyboard, mouse and some personal stuff. This was a first for our company as well, as nobody was working from that far away for such a long period.

Luckily this arragement prepared both the company and me for what should come at the eve of 2020 — covid. With the pandemic remote work became much more common. So all preparations to make working from remote possible in my situation gave us a head start into the new situation with covid.

Preparing for Japan

We had work notebooks even before 2019 to be able to work from clients we visited. But mine was getting old and so I got a brand new one with lots of ressources to be able to work offline for some time. This played out when the internet connection was bad and I couldn’t access more powerfull build ressources back at the office.

A notebook, two 4k monitors, keyboard and mouse on a desk
My work space before 2019

I also enjoyed having two 4k monitors (lots of space to develop on) at my desk at work. And I wanted to take some of that comfort with me to Japan. So I got myself a portable 4k screen that’s plugged to the notebook. It was light and highly portable. And most importantly it doubled the space available for development. To this day I highly recommend everybody to get one of these for occational remote work!

Along with that I needed a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, as the notebook’s keyboard and touchpad aren’t my first choise when doing heavy development sessions😜

A notebook, a mobile 4k displat and a bluetooth keyboard and mouse
My remote work setup 2019

I needed a bag

Having to transport a notebook, portable screen, mechanical keyboard, mouse and power adapters to Japan and potentially to a daily work space there as well, I was looking for a light bag that could fit all my appliances.

But, I couldn’t find one that fully checked all my requirement-boxes — so I just sew my own carrying bag:

Pictures of my self-sewd bag

It took me several attempts to get everything right but it worked out quite nice and I still use it every day. It also was I wellcome new experience to work with a sewing machine. You should try that once!

A hint of caution

Be carefull though not to listen to your wife and just get that new shoulder strap. Because if you agree to use the strap from her old carrying bag, that isn’t used anymore anyway, you might end up breaking a hook at the airport and dropping your bag, which will cause damage to your beloved new mobile screen 🪦 R.I.P old screen — I ordered new one.

A broken screen
Display kaputt

Working from Japan 2019

Japanese temple complex from afar

Working from Japan has been a great experience. We stayed at a Ryou (dormitory) but had our own family apartment. I could work remotely from there via wifi and explore Japan on my free time.

Japanese tori (gates)

The setup I prepared for was working well for that half year period. I changed rooms in the winter as the apartment was too expensive to heat all day. But this was how I started out:

Workplace setup in Japan

I missed to add a compartment for my headset to my carrying bag though, so I had to carry this one additional item in another bag, which annoys me a lot 🙄

Working 8 hours ahead of everybody else gave me a lot of time to focus and I made progress fast. I miss these times where calls were expected only during the last hour of work per day 😅

Back in Germany 2020

We came back with one of the last flights from Japan to Germany. Hell broke loose. All the countries closed their borders as the covid pandemic started to spread.

But nothing really changed for me. I worked remotly for the last 6 months. And coming from Japan seeing people wearing face masks was common, too. We did a 2 week quarantine though, so I setup my work place in a locked room at my parents including my private accessories. I call two LG 27UD58 my own, that I love to work on.

Not realy a sharp picture

After the 2 week quarantine I continued to work remotly from home with this setup. Which was just fine for the time being.

I need to move daily in 2021

All was well, then I started to move my work place on a daily basis as I became a dad. With my wife (a teacher) and I having both fulltime jobs our parents were kind enough to help us with the baby (by now toddler). Soon I started to work from three different remote places:

  1. from our home
  2. from my parents
  3. from my wife’s parents

At first I switched back to the validated Japan mode and used the portable screen as a second screen. And it worked fine. But I missed having those bigger screen with me and I suffered from that loss of comfort.

So i figured how about taking my big screens with me?

Building a true mobile station

Sadly, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the actual building process. But what I ended up building is a carrying box for two big 27" 4k monitors:

A wooden box build to host two 27" desktop monitors
Carrying box for two 27" monitors

The planing phase

I wanted to take my heavy desktop monitors with me, every day.

I started by creating a CAD drawing of the final box. Therefore I measured the screens and gave them just enough space to fit in. Additionally I needed to fit in a docking station, the power adapters and cables. I wanted this to be easy and fast to setup. I added an ethernet and a power outlet on the side of the box, so I only had to plug in 2 cables and be done (well, almost).

The screens are mounted via the VESA mounts they already come with. I just had to ensure the mounting points are strong enough to hold them. So I used thicker planks there. It also needed a little spacer plate to keep the screens away from the backplate of the box. A little whole was needed as well, to make room for the foot mount of the screens.

The final CAD drawing

CAD drawing of the box

The building phase

I used balsa wood to build the box, as it’s very light and doesn’t add too much weight. The screens are already heavy enought.

As you can see I managed the cabling very well…

The box with cables attached

On the right side of the box there is an ethernet and a power outlet, which are connected to a socket box and the docking station.

The power adapter for the monitor, the docking station and the socket box are holding in place thanks to scratch (klett). This way I can remove and perform maintenance on them I case of need.

I used take-apart hinges on one side to place each half of the box however I need independently of eachother. The other side has tension fasteners to hold the box shut.

Right side view of the box with tension fasteners and outlets

Conclusion

I love my remote work-station 😍
The carrying bag for all my accessories (minus headset 😥) and the monitor box go so great with eachother.

The time in Japan has shown that working with a mobile screen is fine for a temporary period of time. But it’s too small for me and I ended up leaning forward to read on the smaller screens which gave be back pain.

Being able to carry two 27" office monitors with me has improved my remote work situation a lot. I just love it 💕

I’m sure there are comercial products out there for this kind of setup. But building your own is a lot of fun and you get to hone your handy skills as well.

When building a box like this the handle is propably the most overlooked part. I didn’t put a lot of thought into it and ended up using some generic big handles. I havn’t weighted the box but it’s well over 10kg with each monitors 5kg weight. Carrying the box from the car to the desk does hurt when the handles aren’t comfortable enough. I ended up adding some foam to them later.

Please let me know what you think about my setup! You may also share yours 😉 Just leave a comment below. I’m open for all improvements.

Currently I’m waiting for a foot rest to be delivered — I still have no clue how to take that with me very day…

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Benjamin Buchfink

I'm a senior dev at a small German company. Software engineering takes a big chunk of my life. I love to learn new stuff and to share it with others.