A mechanical keyboard can drastically improve your work life, but are mechanical keyboards good for office work?
You don’t want to annoy coworkers (or bosses), after all! 😇
Yes, mechanical keyboards can be excellent for office work, but you’ll need to consider your work environment & company culture. And since mechanical keyboards come in all shapes & sizes, you can choose a keyboard that best suits your work environment (quieter, more comfortable, and professional-looking).
I’ve held corporate jobs where even a quiet mechanical keyboard would’ve been a “no-no,” but it also depends on the keyboard (and switches, as you’ll see)!
Keep reading, and I’ll show you the ins and outs of bringing your mechanical keyboard into the office 👇
Why use a mechanical keyboard at work?
Mechanical keyboards bring several advantages to anybody who routinely works on a computer:
- faster typing speeds
- typing accuracy
- Better ergonomics (and less wrist and hand pain)
- a more pleasurable typing experience (the FEEL amazing)
If you sit behind a computer all day at work, these factors should be important to you! Switch to a mechanical keyboard, and you’ll likely find yourself enjoying your work a little bit more (something your boss would probably want as well).
This is the good news—but there’s also bad news:
Should you use a mechanical keyboard at work? Why or why not?
There are two features of mechanical keyboards
Some of your favorite features could be BAD NEWS in an office setting:
- Customization, Design
Yes, mechanical keyboards are generally more noisy than normal “membrane” keyboards—but as we’ll look at in a second, it’s totally possible to purchase a keyboard that isn’t loud or flashy-looking!
And of course, your specific office environment matters a great deal!
Here’s our recommendations:
Do you have your own space with a door?
- Yes: Use any mechanical keyboard you like, and type as loud as you like. While mechanical keyboards are louder, nobody will take notice through walls.
- No: If there are no walls between you and coworkers, you have a few more factors to consider
Is your open office really, really quiet? With coworkers close by?
You can either stick to a normal membrane keyboard, OR take every precaution to dampen the sound of your keyboard (see below).
- Grab a keyboard with silent linear switches (Cherry MX Silent Reds), or any linear switch (reds, yellows, or black switches)
- Use a desk mat
- Optionally install rubber O-rings to mute the keyboard sound even more.
Click here to read our guide to installing O-rings in your mechanical keyboard.
Is your open office more noisy, laid back, or your coworkers farther away?
If your company culture is more laid back (and your coworkers won’t care about the sound of your keyboard), then any mechanical keyboard is probably fine.
Or there’s more background noise, people talking, music, etc—you’ll probably be ok with any mechanical keyboard.
But with all these scenarios, you could always take a few steps to make sure your mech doesn’t annoy anybody:
- Bring in your keyboard and ask your coworkers. They might not notice or care at all.
- Choose a keyboard with linear switches (usually quieter)
- Choose a keyboard design & color scheme that matches your office environment. (Most keyboard with RGB backlighting allow you to turn OFF that backlighting with a shortcut FYI)
Office keyboard buying guide
Here are some of the key factors you should consider when choosing an office keyboard:
Switch color (and therefore sound)
As we’ve discussed, sound is a huge factor to consider in an office setting, and which SWITCHES your keyboard has plays a huge role!
Here are the 3 broad types of keyboard switches:
- Linear switches: These are the best type of switch for an office keyboard, as they make the least amount of noise. Reds, blacks, and yellows!
- Tactile switches: These are in the middle in terms of sound, as they still make a decent amount of noise. They also feature a small “bump” you can feel when the key has been registered to your computer. Brown and clear switches are tactile switches.
- Clicky switches: These are just tactile switches, but with an extra “click” sound when the key is registered. This can be really annoying in an office setting, so we don’t recommend them!
Comfort and ergonomics
Half the reason you’d want a mechanical keyboard at work is because you spend a lot of time at your computer!
- Keyboard height
- Keycap profile height and shape (read more about keycap profiles here)
- Keyboard size (do you need the number pad? Or function row? Or would you prefer more desk space with a keyboard that omits those? Read more about keyboard sizes here)
We can’t tell you what’s best for these factors—since it depends on what you do, and your body size, fingers, etc!
Keyboard design and RGB backlighting
Mechnical keyboards come in all shapes and sizes, with different designs to choose from. And of course, RGB backlighting is a huge factor for many people!
But if you work in a client-facing job within a bank, it might not be the best idea to have an RGB keyboard with a gaming-style design.
You might choose a more minimal design with all black or white case and keycaps, etc.
There are also a number of other features to look for in a mechanical keyboard:
- Cost – mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than normal keyboards (but not always so! Check out our full list of mechanical keyboards under $100 here).
- Wired vs Wireless – many mechanical keyboards are corded only (USB C 3.0 usually), though some might have Bluetooth or a wireless dongle
- USB pass through – some fancier keyboards will have additional USB ports on the keyboard itself
- Media & macro keys – Some larger keyboards come with additional keys you can customize for anything—including routine work shortcuts!
See below for our keyboard recommendations!
Best mechanical keyboards for office work
If you work in an open environment or otherwise need a keyboard that doesn’t annoy coworkers or clients—here’s our favorites!
(I have personally typed on all of these keyboards!)
Corsair Strafe RGB MK.2
- CHERRY MX RGB mechanical key switches with gold contacts deliver the ultimate performance and competitive advantage of mechanical keys
- 8MB Onboard profile storage with lighting and hardware macro playback to take your gaming profiles with you
- Per-key RGB backlighting deliver dynamic and vibrant lighting effects with virtually unlimited customization
The Corsair Strafe MK.2 is a slick 100% full-sized keyboard with Cherry MX Silent switches options! This means quiet, quiet, quiet.
It also has some fancier features like USB-pass through (meaning there are USB ports on the actual keyboard!) and multimedia keys and volume control, etc!
- Cherry MX Blue mechanical key switch,deliver a fast and precise response with great tactile feedback.
- Allow you to rebind control or assign macro. USB Nkey rollover provide gamer a competitive edge. Some function like onekey text input also make the work convenient.
- PBT double-shot seamless keycaps is elegant and not easy to wear. The appropriate color collocation makes keycaps and shell complement each other.
The Durgod Taurus 320 easily one of my favorite keyboards, period, but it would do well in an office setting!
It also offers Silent Red switches as an option, and they also sell this in a 100% full-sized version (with number pad) or a smaller 80% TKL layout!
Keychron K2 or K10
- The Keychron K10 is a 104 keys white LED backlight Bluetooth mechanical keyboard made for Mac and Windows. Engineered to maximize your productivity with most popular full size layout with number pad.
- With a unique Mac layout while compatible with Windows, the K10 has all essential multimedia and function keys you need (Num Lock works with Windows only), and comes with a dedicated Screenshot Key,...
- Connects with up to 3 devices via the reliable Broadcom Bluetooth 5.1 chipset and switch among them easily for multitasking needs. The K10 is best to fit home, office and light gaming use while...
I’m a huge fan of Keychron keyboards (they make them in all sizes, but the feature set and design is similar).
- K2 = A great 75% layout
- K10 = Full-sized 100% layout with numberpad
- K7 = a low-profile compact 60% layout!
Keychrons look the part, and work especially great on Mac computers! Click here to read our full recommendatinos for Mac mechanical keyboards.
If you’re on a strict budget, you might also check out the iKBC CD108 (it’s less than $50 and really minimal!)
3 Easy ways to make ANY mechanical keyboard quieter:
If you already own a mechanical keyboard, there are a few simple keyboard mods you can do to make it more office-friendly!
1 – Swap to linear switches
Linear switches are smooth (with no tactile bump), and are usually quiter. Here are some of my favorites:
2 – Use a desk mat underneath your keyboard
Desk mats (or desk pads) dampen everything (and they look cool to boot). Choose from simple colors or cool designs, felt or leather, etc, etc.
3 – Pick up some cheap o-rings on Amazon, and simply put them underneath the keycaps of your keyboard.
They make these in a few different colors (but you won’t really see them anyways–we recommend grabbing clear ones so any RGB backlighting will shine through to the fullest).
These will mute each keystroke right at the top of the stroke!
For more keyboard mod ideas, read this post!
Are mechanical keyboards good for productivity?
Aside from being fun, mechanical keyboards can bring improved speed, accuracy, and ergonomics. All helpful things when you work on computers.
If you type a lot at your job, you might find yourself typing faster on a mechanical keyboard. Tactile (brown) and clicky (blue) switches have a small “bump” feeling during the keystroke, that can help tell your fingers that the key has been pressed. This small bump can help you “feel” your way through the keys, and prevent you from bottoming out (hitting the key all the way down).
Some mechanical keyboard users (myself included) report being able to increase their typing speeds by as much as 15-20 wpm!
There are a few reasons mechanical keyboards can prove more accurate for typing, number-crunching, etc.
First, the mechanical switches use a more primitive technology underneath the keyboard—which is more reliable (and will also last longer. Most switches are rated for multi-millions of keystrokes).
Second, the improved “feel” of mechanical switches are more “distinct” and “sharp” compared to membrane keyboards, which are more “mushy” and less precise feeling. This helps your fingers understand which keys are being pressed, and precisely when keys are activated.
You can purchase mechanical keyboards in all shapes and sizes, including low-profile and ergonomic keyboards.
Whether you have short arms and small hands—or long arms and large hands—there is a mechanical keyboard variety that will help your posture, hand position, etc.
This means less finger, hand, and wrist pain.
Related post: Are mechanical keyboards better for wrists and hands?
What is a mechanical keyboard?
A mechanical keyboard is a keyboard that uses physical, mechanical switches to register keystrokes (rather than a cheap piece of rubber “membrane” under all the keys, like “normal” keyboards).
Each key has its own switch, and when you press a key, the switch is activated and sends a signal to the computer telling it you pressed that key.
Different switches have different feels—and produce different amounts of noise.
Plus, mechanical keyboards…
- Offer a wide variety of keyboard sizes
- Allow you to remove the top keycaps and swap them out (for different colors, designs, etc)
- Allow you to remove the default switches and add new ones (that give new sounds and feel)
Click here to read more: What is a mechanical keyboard? A full explanation.
Conclusion: Should you use a mechanical keyboard for office work?
If you’re looking for a more fun, ergonomic, or productive typing experience AT WORK—you should totally consider a mechanical keyboard.
However, just make sure you choose a mechanical keyboard that is appropriate for an OFFICE SETTING. This means a keyboard with low-noise switches (linear reds, yellows, blacks, or even silent linear switches), and a more “standard” layout (no crazy colors or extra buttons/knobs/switches).
Other than that, just use your best judgement for your office specifics!
Happy clacking, office friends 🙂