A good keyboard is the ultimate workplace luxury

Every weekday I walk to the desk that was assigned to me on my first day at work, sit down on the chair an office manager chose, and open the computer issued by the IT department. Nearly everyone in my office has the exact same setup.

But the one thing that’s mine, and the item I interact with more than anything else in my workplace, is my keyboard.

Most of us don’t think much about our computer keyboards, but they can be a deeply personal and customized tool, one that can make you feel at home in the office while contributing to your productivity. Every part of a mechanical keyboard can be customized—the switches beneath every key dictate the feel of typing on the keyboard, a new set of keycaps can change its style completely. Some keyboards can even be programmed to automate repetitive tasks.

I have two keyboards, one for work and one at home, but I keep my favorite at the office since that’s where I do most of my typing. I use a Vortex Poker 3 with Cherry MX Blue switches. Cherry is the most well-known manufacturer of mechanical keyboard switches. Each color switch gives a different tactile feel when pressed. The Blue switches on my keyboard give a little bump when they’re pressed, which I like. They can be a bit loud, though. Cherry also makes “silent” switches with less of a clack.

I’ve cycled through a few different sets of keycaps on the keyboard, but the ones I use now came from a Massdrop group buy, where a few hundred people paid for a limited run of a certain keycap design. I like mine because they’re purple and they include a key that looks like a bowl of ramen. (Pressing the ramen button just types the numeral 1, because ramen is number one in my book.)

My preferences aren’t just cosmetic. My office keyboard is set up to help me work. I’ve programmed it to help with everything from filing stories to transcribing interviews. My caps-lock key has been replaced with a function key, so I can use my pinky to press it and then use the WASD keys as arrow keys to navigate, the Q and E buttons to control the laptop’s volume, the Z, X, and C buttons to pause and jump a few seconds back or forward on the software I use to transcribe, and the F button to mute the computer. To copy a headline and URL of a story to file it to my editor, I just press the function key and the Y key. It’s the little things that get us through the day, right?

Mattress salesmen will tell you that you spend a third of your life sleeping, so you should spend a little extra on a good mattress. I say the same goes for keyboards. If you work in an office, you’ll spend another third of your life using a keyboard, so why not interact with something that suits your preferences? It’s almost the definition of luxury: Something that’s not necessary, but gives an undeniably better personal experience.