For all the flexibility and freedom it allows us, there are two common problems with working from home:
1. It's easy to slip into unhealthy postures
2. Work stuff clutters up your personal space
As a work-from-home-copywriter, things have been known to get a little...chaotic on my desk, what with all the devices, memos, wires and various drink receptacles. The truth is that my 'desk' is actually my whole flat. I get fidgety if I'm in one place for too long so I tend to roam from room to room throughout the day, setting up on whatever available surface I can find to give my brain a welcome change of scenery (usually leaving a trail of mugs and to-do lists in my wake).
I know I'm not the only one who's adopted rather unorthodox working habits during lockdown. We don't all have the luxury of a dedicated office space at home. In fact, a recent study by Fellowes revealed that 10% of Brits have been working from the sofa, 3% from the floor, and a sheepish (but comfy) 5% from bed. And that's just the people who were willing to admit it!
Moving regularly is good for both your body and your brain. It can be difficult to accept movement as a necessary part of a computer-worker's day because of course the physical act of working requires you to be looking at your screen and probably not leaping around to your favourite song. In traditional rigid office life, if you weren't at your computer all day, you might get called out for shirking.
Progressive managers know that regularly getting up for a jump around or a nice satisfying stretch is the best thing you can do for your health while you're working from home (that, and destroying the biscuit jar). As well as moving plenty, it's important that you try to sit with good posture - and this is best achieved with ergonomic equipment. Spending prolonged periods typing away without adequate support can be problematic. No matter how well-trained your abdominal muscles are, when you're absorbed in your work it's easy to let them go. Before you know it, you're hunching, slumping, sitting on your legs, or typing in a strange frog-like position you have no idea how you got into. Without regular breaks these poor postures (teamed with the repetitive movements you make between your mouse pad and keys) can lead to aches, pains and even serious injuries such as back pain, RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Besides, how productive do you really feel sinking gradually into the depths of your sofa with your laptop balanced precariously on your knees? It's much easier to concentrate and be creative when you're sitting upright, well supported and able to breathe properly.
So how do you combat these two common problems with working from home? It could be as simple as a nifty invention costing just £73.19 (at the time of this review).
The Addit Bento® Ergonomic Toolbox
The Addit Bento® Ergonomic Toolbox by Dataflex is an all-in-one storage box, laptop stand, tablet stand and in-line document holder. It was designed by renowned Dutch product designer Robert Bronwasser, a great believer in 'every day design' - simple, functional, unobtrusive products that slip seamlessly into your life like they were always there.
Explaining how he came up with the concept, Bronwasser said:
“Along the way of designing the Addit Bento® product series, we got inspired by how a Japanese lunchbox lets you organise, store and carry around your lunch for work. We decided it would be great to apply that concept to an ergonomic product and that is how the Addit Bento® got its name.”
Delivery, presentation and set-up
The Addit Bento® turned up at my door promptly with minimal packaging and an easy-to-follow instruction pamphlet. It starts as a storage box, minimalistic in white with grey accents and rounded edges for a modern, Apple-like look.
Open up and you'll find a high quality silicon interior tray with various ridges marking out compartments to keep your things nicely organised, inspired by the way a Japanese bento box divides food groups - so you never have to rummage around to find the piece of stationery you need. If you love to keep your belongings beautifully ordered, then this is product for you.
Switching to laptop stand mode
In a few satisfyingly smooth, clicky movements (including attaching the magnetic support ledge) you can transform the box into a stand for your laptop, tablet, or documents with a choice of four angle settings and a height adjustability of 134-240 mm.
This instantly elevates your laptop to a more suitable height, with your eyes now in line with the top of the screen so you don't need to hang your head and exert pressure on your spine (which can lead to tech neck).
Make sure you use a separate mouse and keyboard when you place your laptop on the Addit Bento®, as it's inadvisable (and frankly very uncomfortable) to type at such a steep angle.
By sitting up with your gaze straight ahead, you'll be able to breathe easier, your body will fall into a natural, comfortable position and the off-shot of that will hopefully be a boost in your ability to produce good work. I noticed a clearer head and less fatigue throughout the day while using my Addit Bento®.
The best thing about this hybrid product is that when you've finished your workload for the day, you can place your keyboard, mouse, lists, doodles, pens and stray wires inside the box so they don't impose on your thoughts in the evening and remind you of all those things you forgot to do during the day. When we work from home, it's all too easy to forget the boundaries between work and personal time - but this can lead to stress, anxiety and even relationship tensions. For those who have limited space at home, or who use multi-purpose spaces (such as the dining table), the Bento offers a really easy way to clear up all evidence of work to free up space for leisure time.
All in all, I love the Addit Bento®. It's so simple yet it solves such an annoying problem. It keeps work neatly contained and allows me to roam with it - never tying me to one surface for too long. Even for those working in an office, it offers a way to keep your belonging safe and stored away so you can maintain a clear work surface. It could work well in tandem with a full single, dual, or even triple monitor set-up - especially if you frequently reference documents.