In recent years, the gaming mouse has seen an explosion in popularity. A quality gaming mouse provides comfort, ergonomics, and shorter lag times. But one feature that helps gamers can also benefit office workers, programmers, or anyone trying to work efficiently on spreadsheets or word documents. Although the purpose of a gaming mouse with programmable buttons is probably for MMOs or MMORPGs, some office workers have decided to use the custom programmable buttons for business rather than gaming.
Can I use a gaming mouse for work?
Yaniss Illoul, an automation expert and the founder of Martech with Me, says absolutely. He uses the Corsair Scimitar gaming mouse, which has 12 programmable buttons on the side. Because Martech with Me specializes in Python scripts, Google Sheets, and similar programs, there is a great deal of repetition with codes and keys. Yaniss shared with us the details of his setup, which uses 10 keys as default shortcuts. This leaves the remaining buttons available and ready to be programmed to whatever task he is working on at the moment. By having dedicated keys for “copy”, “paste”, “paste w/o formatting”, “select all”, “delete”, “return”, “line break”, “bold text”, “mute audio”, and “switch input language”, you can minimize strain on your hands, fingers, and wrist.
“It seems daunting to use at first. But once you’ve set up your shortcuts, your brain adapts really quickly and finds the shortcut on the mouse really fast,” Yaniss told us. “It’s such an important part of my workflow that I always feel handicapped when I forget to bring it with me. We don’t realise how many times we actually use shortcuts [requiring two or more fingers] until we don’t do it anymore and have to go back to it.”
– Yaniss Illoul [founder of MartechwithMe.com]
For anyone working with spreadsheets and word documents, or sending multiple emails that follow a script, the programmable buttons are an ergonomic way to automate tasks. Having buttons for “copy” and “paste,” rather than “control-c” or “control-p” (or “command-shift-c” or “command-shift-p”) could be the trick that allows you to come home from work without a sore wrist or fingers.
Many office workers have already discovered text expanders (also called “word expanders” or “typing expanders”), which are programs that allow you to use a shortcut in order to insert a longer phrase or snippet. For example, instead of typing your street address, you can type a code like ;address. From there, the text expander program will insert your full address. For jobs like programming or medical transcription, the automation of these repetitive tasks can save a few seconds every time the code is used. But over the course of a month, these seconds could add up to hours of time saved.
Programmable buttons, whether on a mouse or keyboard, essentially work as a more efficient version of a text expander. And, depending on the mouse that you use, you may find that it is easier to program macros or snippets into the mouse program than it would be to program them into a text expander.
Macros, as defined by Microsoft, are “sequences of events that can be recorded and later played back to help perform repetitive tasks.” Techwalla.com says that macros “automate common and repetitive keystrokes that you use.” Essentially, these are easy-to-write codes that can be used to automate tasks like opening applications, pasting blocks of frequently used text, or performing tedious functions in a quicker, easier way — with the click of a button.
What is the best computer mouse for programming? Or coding? Or spreadsheets? Or video editing? Or medical transcription?
In choosing a mouse with programmable buttons, the important things to look for are the number of shortcut buttons available, ease of use, ergonomics, and price. Some products we like include the Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse, Razer Naga, and Redragon M908 Impact RGB LED MMO Mouse. In addition to the ergonomics, reduced lag, and higher precision that comes with a gaming mouse, these products all have 16+ programmable buttons.
Other gaming peripheral products that make office work more efficient
In recent years, gaming companies like Razer have come to understand the benefits of gaming products for office workers, programmers, video editors, and medical transcriptionists.
Razer has teamed up with Humanscale, a company that specializes in office ergonomics, to produce a line of computer accessories. This includes the Razer Pro Click mouse, the Razer Pro Type keyboard, and the Razer Pro Glide mouse pad.
One thing we love about this collaboration between Razer and Humanscale is the esthetic, which will fit in a graphic design studio while providing the benefits of high-performance gaming devices.
Gaming keyboards for office work
Gaming keyboards can also be used for office work. However, in an office setting there are a few downsides to using a gaming keyboard.
First, they are typically mechanical keyboards, which can be noisy depending on the switches used. If you plan to use a gaming keyboard, try to find one that has silent switches. For example, the Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro comes in an option with yellow mechanical switches which are described as “linear and silent,” but also comes in an option with green mechanical switches which are described as “tactile and clicky.”
You will also find that different gaming keyboards have different actuation forces (the amount of pressure needed to press a key). Some people have an easy time typing on the highly-sensitive keys of a gaming keyboard. Others find it easier to type on a keyboard that requires more pressure, along the lines of a typewriter. But while actuation force is a matter of personal preference, there is no doubt that loud and clicky keys could be bothersome to coworkers.
Next, many gaming keyboards are not ergonomic. For wrist support and neutral positioning, it may be easier to find a comfortable keyboard by looking for products made specifically for office use. But there are some gaming keyboards available, like the Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB Split, that take comfort to the next level. This product not only has cushioned palm supports, but it also has a split design which is proven to put wrists in a more comfortable position. With a split keyboard, you can separate the two parts to shoulder width, and reduce strain on your shoulders, elbows, and forearms. The Kinesis Freestyle Edge Split also can be paired with an adjustable lift kit, which can adjust the angle of the split keyboard and put wrists in the most ergonomic position possible.
The illuminated keys can be helpful for office work and programming, depending on your office setting. Also, because these keyboards are built for gamers, they are incredibly durable and built to withstand upwards of 50 million clicks.
The Logitech G910 keyboard comes with 9 programmable buttons, great for anyone wanting to use text expanders and macros to increase productivity. These buttons can be easily programmed with shortcuts of your choosing, just like the buttons on the mice discussed previously. Another great feature is that you can create as many as 3 profiles, which will essentially turn the 9 programmable buttons into 27.
Gaming keypad with programmable buttons
Gaming keypads work as an extension of a gaming mouse or gaming keyboard. But it may not be worthwhile for some people. While it could be redundant for some tasks, there are features on a gaming keypad that can turn it into a supercharger for an office workstation.
The Razer Tartarus V2, for example, has a Hypershift mode that allows for even more customization. With this feature, there are twice as many controls for macros and shortcuts. The device also has a detachable and adjustable palm rest to improve ergonomics. A directional thumbpad and scroll wheel round out the extras on this feature-packed keypad. As mentioned above, Razer is the gaming company that best understands the crossover appeal that makes their devices ideal for desk jobs as well as gamers. In the product description, they describe the Tartarus V2 as “perfect for… integrating into creative workflows with fully programmable keys.”
Downsides to using gaming products in the office
As mentioned above, mechanical keyboards can be noisy. And although some people love them for typing, the sensitivity may feel unusual to non-gamers, and could make typing more challenging and prone to errors.
The RGB lighting is a great look for gaming, but it can look odd in the workplace. For this reason, you may wish to consider products without this lighting, or with lighting that can be easily adjusted or turned off.
Products that are designed specifically for office use may have designs that are more ergonomic than gaming devices.
Although these devices are usually available in a wireless option, portability of a workstation decreases with more add-ons. As more companies replace dedicated workstations with laptops and tablets, it may become a challenge to lug around bulky keypads and accessories rather than just using the controls built in to the laptop.
Lastly, premium gaming devices tend to be expensive. One caveat to the advice in this article — sometimes there is no need to replace a $20 device with a $100 device that has more features.
Undoubtedly, there are some other gaming devices that could benefit office workers. From gaming chairs that are comfortable for hours on end, to PC fans that keep computers cool, to studio quality headsets, gaming technology is always at the leading edge of at-home technology. While we won’t cover all of these topics in this article, hopefully it has prompted you to think of ways that gaming products can improve your efficiency.