Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Mobile Office and Desk in a Van

To work from the road, we needed the van to also serve as a mobile office. It’s hard enough to have an ergonomic work space at home or at an office. It was an even bigger challenge to make the limited space comfortable enough for both of us to work part (or full) time.

Seating in the Van

Car seats are already built for comfort. Plus, they are infinitely adjustable. This makes them surprisingly good office chairs. The trick is to install a swivel seat in the van so that the seat can face toward the living area. This worked so well on the passenger seat that we’re considering adding a second swivel adapter on the driver’s seat.

The sofa bed also serves as a good seat to work from. We just needed a desk of the right height.

Mobile Office Desk

“Marine” equipment (made for boats) is an excellent search term when looking for things for the van. In this case, we found an adjustable-height table stand for our mobile office. The arm of the table can be removed from the floor:

van mobile office desk and computer workstation office

The tabletop can also be removed from the pedestal. We store the tabletop attached to the back door, behind the kitchen.

tabletop stored in the back of a van
The tabletop is stored behind the kitchen sink, attached to the back door.

Note that the tabletop itself did not come with the pedestal. I built it using a standard 24″ round pine board from Lowe’s (about $28), plus some Red Oak stain and Danish Oil. The table stand did include all the other hardware for attaching the tabletop, though.

Computers

It’s a bit tight trying to fit two laptops on the 24″ round table. I added an ergonomic monitor arm, which allows a second laptop to float in the air.

laptop computer monitor arm in a van mobile office
The ergonomic arm holds a second computer.

I got very lucky here. The Ergotron monitor arm happens to fit the bolt-holes of the Ford Transit 250 perfectly. I simply removed the handle which comes with the van, exactly where the arm is attached to the wall in the above photo, and replaced it with the monitor attachment. I didn’t need to drill new holes because both the top and bottom holes of the Erogtron arm matched those of the Ford Transit’s handle.

Internet and Power

Last but not least, our little home (er, van) mobile office needed internet and power. Throughout the van, I used copper pipes as wire conduit. I ran a DC power line to the front right corner, along with two ethernet cables.

USB-C, USB 3.0, and Ethernet ports above the desk.

The DC power is terminated with a standard 12v barrel plug/outlet. In the above photo, you see the USB and USB-C outlet adapter which is attached to that plug.

The advantage to this setup, as I explained in the posts on off-grid electricity, is that it never does an AC/DC conversion. This outlet provides 60W of power, which is enough to charge a laptop (like a MacBook Pro). However, I later discovered a 90W adapter:

The 12v DC to USB-C adapter is the best I’ve found so far.

This exceeds the 87W provided by the official MacBook Pro chargers, meaning it charges a laptop even faster than the above 60W option.

The ethernet ports are attached to a router, which is attached to the magic spellbook that provides the internet connection.

magic spellbook home automation open me
The magic spellbook provides the internet connection.

About the author

(zane) / Technically Wizardry

I've been a game designer, startup founder, and @Airbnb for 6+ years. This blog documents my hobbies of building a vanlife van, "magic" home automation, and interesting software to control it all.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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