Whether working from home or at the office, it’s likely that you took the time to set up your workplace, creating a healthy and pleasant environment. Creating an ergonomic workspace is vital, but it won’t do any good while traveling. So if you imagine working on a white sandy beach or at a sidewalk café, consider this: it could get pretty uncomfortable out there. Luckily, there are quite a few possibilities to care for your body on the road.
Ergonomic Portable Aids
Travel aids must be light, portable, and compact, otherwise your suitcase will be too heavy and create extra stress on your back (and you’re more apt to leave the bulky weight at home). A small wireless keyboard a mouse, and a thin firm support cushion are great portable ergonomic options and should be considered essentials when packing for people who work on the road. If you are new to portable ergonomic equipment, these suggestions will support your body, anywhere you roam.
Tips for Working on the go
Most restaurants and cafes don’t usually cater to the “ergonomic-conscious” population. If you find your neck is getting sore from looking down, there are simple laptop holders that will raise your laptop and raise your head to a relaxed neutral posture. You can make yourself more comfortable by attaching a compact, travel keyboard to your laptop and using a mouse so that you can get that longed-for desktop experience away from the office. For the final touch, use your travel cushion to sit on. What a relief to to raise your elbows to the café table height and relax those shoulders. Now you’re ready for your cappuccino!
The Great Outdoors
It’s always great to have the ability to work outdoors and luckily there are ways to do it while also protecting your spine. If you find yourself in a lush green park and feel inspired to work there, find a picnic bench in the area. Grab your small ergonomic support pillow to sit on. Try changing your seating postures– cross-legged or feet propped up on a couple of books for solid spine support. If you long to work at the beach, find a lounge chair and raise it up to a seated position. You can place your support cushion on your lap and then place your laptop on the cushion to create your makeshift desk. Be sure to find a shady area when working outside since staring into bright sunlight causes eyestrain. Remember to blink often and take time to look at the ocean and then a nearby point- that keeps your eyes moist and exercises your eye muscles.
On the Orient Express
When travelling by airplane or train take a break from your work. Change your posture by stretching your neck and back and relaxing into a comfy neck support and dream away. While there are several types of neck pillows, one that’s easy to travel with and fits your neck size will make your trip more enjoyable. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and take frequent breaks.
Room Service, Please!
Hotel rooms might offer a decent table, but most likely it’s too high, so be sure to raise the chair or sit on a pillow to get those elbows even with the keyboard. This goes a long ways toward relaxing your shoulders and don’t forget to put a book or wedge cushion under your feet so they don’t dangle and de-stabilize your back. For a change of pace, give your neck and back a break by propping up the laptop, setting up your keyboard and mouse. And avoid facing bright windows. If you’re tempted to slip into bed and get some work done from a vertical position, use pillows and try to keep your back and neck as straight as possible.
Sometimes cafés can become so busy, it’s hard to find a decent table. So if your only alternative is the couch, or if you would simply like to lounge around for a while, place your support pillow under the laptop. Just keep in mind that the pillow should be light enough so that it doesn’t cut off circulation.
Working remotely has become a global trend, one that has sparked a widespread interest in ergonomics on the go. Caring for your body will ensure many years of comfortable travel for both work and pleasure. Then you can say without any hesitation: “Have Laptop, will travel.”
About Karen Burke
Karen is president of Kare Products which specializes in ergonomic products. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.