Name: Ulrich Esch

Location: Cologne, Germany

Occupation: Communication Consultant

Room size: 15 m² (161,5 ft²)

Cost of the setup: $2,7K including a MacBook

Social media: Instagram

Hey, Uli! Tell us a bit about yourself

Thanks for having me! I’m a communication consultant by day and content creator by night (or, more precisely, after my children have gone to bed).

For three or four days a week, I spend about 2-3 hours creating new content. One evening is usually reserved for shooting new content, another one for editing the shots, and then, on the third evening, I prepare posts.

Black and White Desk Setup by Uli in Cologne, Germany
Uli works for an agency that helps companies with their digital communications. Content strategies, social media, ad campaigns, as well as web projects and brand building are all areas of his expertise

As a Head of Digital Communications, I advise brands and other clients on how they can take their comms to the next level. As you can imagine, that requires a lot of project management, conceptual work, and coordination.

The evening is when I create content for my own channels. I run a website (in German) that covers tips and tricks for digital communication. Currently, I am focusing my efforts on my Instagram account @ulresch, where I post product shots as well as pics of my setup.

iPhone and Apple pencil are some of the items featured in Uli's setup
As soon as Uli built a following on Instagram, the first companies approached him to promote their products. “As a result, I got some pretty awesome products in exchange for Instagram featuring”

Having studied technical journalism and PR ten years ago, I developed a great passion for technology. During my studies, I created my first website — a blog about social media and digital technology.

Since then, I have been fascinated by everything that is digital, and in the best case has to do with mobile technology.

About four years ago, I began taking pictures. So it was only a matter of time before I combined these two hobbies. In fact, my current Instagram channel was born from this experience.

Can you describe your home setup?

My setup is as flexible as possible, I would say.

Due to the pandemic, I started working from home in March 2020 without any setup at all. The only thing I had back then was my MacBook Pro. No monitor, no keyboard, no mouse.

I am an avid multitasker, so I love working on several windows at once.

This is something you can’t do on a laptop alone. So about a year ago, in summer 2020, I started to build my entire setup from scratch.

About that time, I also launched my Instagram channel and dived deeper into the amazing tech scene it has to offer.

Although it isn’t too obvious from the outside, Instagram has a lot of incredibly good content creators sharing their workspaces and lifehacks in an open and friendly manner.

Upon discovering this, I thought to myself, “Hey! I’m doing that too!”

Wallpaper by Paweł Czerwiński, a Polish artist who specialises in acrylic paint pouring and experimental photography
Wallpaper by Paweł Czerwiński, a Polish artist who specialises in acrylic paint pouring and experimental photography

I was inspired by pretty much everything I saw. Since my entire feed was rather dark, I built my setup to be completely black in the first step.

I moved to another corner of our apartment, which had served as the dressing room previously, and started assembling my home office little by little.

I bought a cheap IKEA desk plate that was 120 × 60 cm, borrowed a monitor from my brother, and ordered a keyboard and mouse from Amazon for 20 euros altogether.

At the end of 2020, I upgraded my monitor for the first time to a 27″ curved one and bought both Logitech MX Keys keyboard and MX Master 3 mouse while they were on sale.

In this way, I gradually built the setup of my dreams.

I opted for a minimalist design for my desk since I also use it as a photography background. I love the way it looks in my living space as well as in photos.

A 35″ ultra-wide monitor was the biggest investment. It’s the LG 35WN73A – a decent device for its price. Currently, I’m using it in combination with my 27″ curved monitor as a dual-screen setup.

Uli's dual monitor home setup
Uli says that even if he doesn’t use the second monitor often, he finds it amazing to watch YouTube while editing videos or to chat while playing video games. “Having the dual setup allows me to literally broaden my horizons”

I love the BenQ screen bar on my monitor. Its cold light helps me focus when I am sitting (or standing) at my desk in the evening.

The Flexispot standing desk was definitely a game-changer for me. With its black frame and white desktop, it fits my current style perfectly and allows me to take not only dark pictures.

I absolutely love this desk. When you’ve been sitting at your desk all day, it feels amazing to stand up for a while. I raise it every evening. That means I can start working in a standing position the next morning. I usually remember to adjust the position of the desk by myself even though the desk has a built-in reminder feature.

For the USB hub to fit on my desk, I looked for a vertical stand that would offer sufficient room underneath. After doing some research, VAYDEER’s product was the best I found on Amazon.

Uli uses the iVANKY USB-C hub to connect his MacBook Pro to dual monitors
Uli uses the iVANKY USB-C hub to connect his MacBook Pro to dual monitors. Most modern laptops offer a limited number of ports. A hub like that allows you to add connections that your device lacks — for example, more USB ports, Ethernet port or an HDMI output — using a single USB-C port

Above my desk, you can see some lenses that I’ve bought over the years. I switched my camera system from Nikon to Sony a few weeks ago, and I still have to sell them. On the other hand, I think they look pretty cool where they are.

I also got a DeltaHub Carpio 2.0 wrist rest a few weeks ago. Having never used a wrist rest before, it took me some time to get used to it. Now, I don’t want to take it off.

Participants reported less musculoskeletal discomfort when using arm support, according to the study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, Kettering University and Northeastern University
Participants reported less musculoskeletal discomfort when using arm support, according to the study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, Kettering University and Northeastern University

At this point, I think I’m pretty happy with my setup. I designed it so that I could use it for work (on a Windows laptop), for content creation (on a MacBook Pro), and for gaming (on Xbox Series S). I only need to change the monitor source.

If I were to upgrade one item at my desk, it would be my chair. The one I’m using at the moment is probably from IKEA, but I can’t tell it for sure as I have had it for years. It had been buried in our basement for quite some time until I dug it up a few months ago.

My speakers are also in desperate need of an upgrade, but luckily the new ones are almost on their way. After several months of using the Logitech Z200, Edifier is sending me their R1280DBs Bluetooth bookshelf speakers which I am extremely excited about!

What’s your favourite item on your desk?

There are a lot of items on my desk that give me an extra boost of inspiration.

However, the one item I cannot live without are my headphones, Sony WH-1000XM3.

SONY noise-cancelling headphones
Headphones with active noise-cancelling technology detect surrounding ambient sounds and generate opposite “mirroring” sound waves. This results in a reduced level of noise

With two little children, having an impeccable ANC [Active Noise Cancellation] like that can be a real gamechanger.

While I’m working, I prefer music without lyrics as they distract me. So most of the time I listen to Spotify playlists like lo-fi tunes, deep focus or beats to think to.

5 Snowy and Rainy Sounds for WFH Concentration
Find the perfect ambient playlist to keep your mind from wandering while working from home.

What does your typical day look like?

Typically, I get up at around 7 am, check my Instagram account, get ready, have breakfast with the family, and then go to my home office.

I start by fixing myself another cup of coffee and going through the tasks. Notion is my go-to app for almost everything: tasks, notes, projects, and postings.

After reviewing and prioritising my tasks for the day, I start working on my main job that ends at 6 pm.

Due to the pandemic, there have been so many meetings lately. If you normally would have a quick chat in the office, you will now need to schedule a meeting for everything.

Depending on the work he’s doing, Uli switches between several desk mats made of wool felt and leather
Depending on the work he’s doing, Uli switches between several desk mats made of wool felt and leather

After dinner with my family and putting my kids to bed, I get back to my desk and work for a few hours more. This is when I create content for my channels. I take some photos with or on my desk, edit them, and then prepare a post for the next day.

I like to relax after work by playing a video game (currently I’m playing CoD: Cold War) or watching YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon Prime.

Every night before I go to sleep, I check my Feedly RSS reader (yep, I’m still using one!) to see what happened during the day and whether there has been any interesting news. In some cases, I read the articles directly or save them to my app pocket.

I then put on my headphones and listen to a history podcast to relax because I find them to be extremely calming.

Your tips for working from home?

I highly recommend that you do things pretty much as you would at the office.

For instance, I wear casual work clothes, chit-chat with colleagues, and walk around my apartment every hour.

Uli used to play Nintendo Switch daily until he got an Xbox
Uli used to play Nintendo Switch daily until he got an Xbox. “I’m a huge fan of this compact console. I used it quite a lot when my kids were younger and slept next to me”

If it’s possible, consider building or designing a separate workspace that meets your needs.

It doesn’t matter if your home office is only a small corner. All that counts is that you have one.

This is a place where you’ll be spending eight hours each day, so make yourself comfortable here.

This can be done through top-of-the-line tech devices, or it could be simple and not pricey things like a special pen or a picture that means a lot to you.

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