Working from home during a pandemic

With the sudden lock down of New Zealand due to Covid-19 I found rather quickly that I wasn’t really prepared to actually work from home.


Day to day at home i used a 13” Macbook Air, but its primarily a consumption device. I’d never really written anything of any length. It quickly become apparent I’d need a proper keyboard, mouse and monitor.

With all suppliers in lockdown I have to made do with what I already had to start with – an external Apple keyboard. Because it was old it come with a new challenge – USB only.

It worked for a while, but still found any serious writing or spreadsheet work to be quite difficult to do on such a small screen.

Fortunately, retailers were soon allowed to sell “essential” technology products by delivery, so I ordered:

  • A 21” monitor (with HDMI input)
  • USB-C to HDMI Cable
  • Basic wireless mouse

This combination actually worked really well, but I soon ran into USB-C limitations. I could have any combination of keyboard, monitor and power – but not all three.

After a bit of research I found a basic USB-C hub with passthrough power – this means I could run everything via one USB-C port.

So far its working well, and I’m slowing getting used to using both laptop screen and monitor at the same time. Usually I’ll put video conferencing on the smaller screen and whatever “work” I am doing on the larger screen.

I’d really like to go big-screen only but two things prevent this – my reliance on touch-id on the Macbook Air (who knew this would become a must-have feature) and the webcam for video calls.

At this stage I probably won’t some things on my wish list – a vertical stand for my laptop (in clamshell mode) or an external webcam – but its useful to know what I might need in the future.


I live with my flatmate in a relatively small two bedroom apartment. Most of of the shared livings spaces are taken up with her costume making supplies, so finding a space to sit and work was challenging.

Initially she cleared a space in her sewing room for me to use, but it got very hot after about 11:00 am (it was, after all , a conservatory), but more importantly was close enough to the shared areas that it proved distracting.

I rearranged by bedroom a little are repurposed a beautiful writing table I had used as a bedside table for its actual purpose – writing.

Its a little cramped with a monitor, keyboard, laptop and mouse, but it does the job.

I’m not in love with the idea of working in my sleeping space, but its has allowed me to be more productive.