Many job roles take us away from the traditional office set-up. If you travel around for work, however infrequently, it's important to know how to set yourself up comfortably for the task you're carrying out. It's typical to use the time in transit, between meetings, or during overnight stays, to catch up on computer work. Even outside of the office, it's important to know how to work comfortably and safely to avoid painful musculoskeletal disorders. The key message we want people to know - and the message we've woven into our new agile working e-learning course, is that you don't always need to be at a dedicated workstation to do your work - but you do need to think carefully about your physical positioning and environment in relation to the task you want to complete.
Match your task to your environment
Working on the go is inherently unpredictable. If you're lucky you might have access to a hot-desk, for instance if you're visiting a client's premises. This is great - it just means that the usual ergonomic workstation set-up guidelines apply. But more often than not all you'll have will be a seat on a train, a sofa in a cafe, or a chair in a reception area.
What if there's no table or desk?
- Choose a quick task - like drafting out a short response to an email, updating social media, or making a phone call.
- Work for no longer than 15 minutes, then take a moving break.
- Try not to let your shoulders slump forward.
- Glance up regularly to give your neck a break from the head-hanging posture that laptop screens, phones and tablets often force us into.
What if there's a table but no adjustable office chair?
- Can you find a cushion to support yourself comfortably?
- Avoid lengthy processing tasks and interaction with your device.
- Get up and move around at least every 20 minutes.
- Use an adjustable laptop stand and detachable mouse and keyboard so that you can at least work at the right screen height with comfortable arm positioning.
We're human; we need to move around. If you don't have a suitably set up workstation then you must move regularly to relieve yourself from uncomfortable postures. Working anywhere for too long is likely to result in aches and pains. The technology we use on the go - laptops, tablets and phones, are great for keeping us connected and productive, but without the right training and ergonomic accessories, they can have the opposite effect and actually be the cause of dropped productivity.
The key messages for working productively on the go are:
- Save lengthy processing tasks for when you have access to a workstation.
- Take regular moving breaks.
- Use ergonomic equipment like laptop stands, mice and keyboards (we sell on the go kits which include everything you need to set up a portable ergonomic workstation).
- Carefully consider whether your environment is really suited to the task you want to carry out and problem-solve from there.
- Take responsibility for your choices and treat your health and comfort as a priority.