28% of UK workers are currently hybrid workers who split their time between home and the workplace, reports the ONS in 2023. As we venture bleary-eyed onto the 06.50 train to Waterloo on a Tuesday, we want lightweight and portable ergonomic office kit of our own that we can enjoy in both work locations. In addition to that overpriced Cappuccino, what is useful for an office worker to easily carry to the office and then home again when travelling by public transport? What makes working life more comfortable and productive at the office, at home and en route between the two?
1. A padded laptop backpack
Let’s start with the bag itself. I’d recommend the Targus Commuter Backpack which is more stylish in design than your common or garden black laptop bag, and the key feature here is the backpack format. Generously padded straps evenly distribute the weight of the bag close to your spine. Note that backpacks allow good body mechanics to reduce the forces on your body.
This laptop backpack has water-repellent fabric – but I know you’ll never need that in the UK. Need to commute in the dark? It also has reflective panels to help you stay visible when you’re crossing the road. When the August heat does come around, you might find the Air X Flow back padding which allows air circulation between the bag and your back useful too.
If you suspect that your boss will make you carry 10 printed copies of the proposal on your flight to Shanghai as well as all the tech and you NEED a larger bag, take a look at the Posturite Executive 4 Wheel Trolley Backpack. It’s very spacious and perfect for airport or train travel. “Great quality, would recommend for anyone wishing to use a bag with four wheels” said Nina in her review.
2. A super-lightweight laptop stand
Here’s the clever thing – this UltraStand Universal Laptop Stand attaches to your laptop with adhesive strips and then you’ll always have it with you when you travel.
If you haven’t yet heard why laptop stands are recommended for healthy, ergonomic working, it’s because they elevate your screen so that you’re not hunched and looking down. This better positioning will help to reduce the physical strain in your neck, shoulders and upper back, as well as giving you better comfort and productivity.
Another reason for this laptop stand getting the thumbs up from commuters is how thin and light it is. Despite this, it’s definitely durable and has anti-slip feet that will be stable on your train table.
3. Some noise-cancelling headphones
As much you might hanker after hearing that ‘See it. Say it. Sorted’ message just one more time at the train station…, there might be times when you crave some peace and quiet during your commute. As Professor Joseph Devlin from UCL commented following his research into people’s feelings about returning to the office, a commute has the potential to have a positive impact on your cognitive performance, wellbeing and productivity at work. “The commute delineates boundaries between home and work life and can be used to switch one off and transition to the other.”
To cancel out the noise around you on public transport, the Tilde® Pro C+ Noise-Cancelling Headphones will do a brilliant job. Their look will provoke the envy of the even the coolest commuters from Cambridge – but we’re here for the audio performance above all. These Tilde headphones boast Tilde® Voice First technology with a unique signal processing algorithm which separates voice from noise. Commuter-friendly features include a battery life of up to 28 hours and a case to keep them in safely.
Enjoy your music while you travel home or risk outbursts of uncontrollable laughter whilst listening to your favourite comedy podcast with your comfy headset on. My husband has a very serious and grim job yet is always immensely cheered up by listening to the Elis James and John Robins podcast for example.
4. A lightweight and compact keyboard
It’s impressive just how light and compact the Ark Keyboard is. A world away from those old-fashioned chunky and heavy keyboards, it’s perfect for you to quickly sling in your bag at home ready for your day of hot-desking. Use its wireless technology to connect instantly to any computer or laptop to start working immediately.
The reason for this keyboard’s curved silhouette is so that the keys rise up at the back in a gentle arc, reducing the distance that your hand has to stretch to reach the keys. Your typing position is therefore very natural and relaxed. In my job with long hours of typing, I find this shape of keyboard very comfortable to use and apparently it helps to limit muscle fatigue.
And if you’d like a mouse to use with your laptop-on-a-stand and wireless keyboard (good thinking) here’s the range of good computer mice for you to pick from.
5. A privacy screen for your laptop
There’s quite likely confidential stuff on your computer screen including perhaps sensitive business information related to your work, which Beth from Basildon on the train beside you should not see. And your fellow travellers need to find out what happens in Coronation Street on their very own device, not on yours. A popular, cheap and easy commuter hack is to use a privacy filter over your laptop screen. A privacy filter is a thin film placed over the screen of your device to prevent the people around you from seeing what you're up to.
The PrivaScreen™ Privacy Filter from Fellowes blacks out your screen from a side view whilst maintaining a clear view of your screen for you from the front. You can choose the size to suit your device. Another great option is the Ocushield Anti Blue Light Privacy Filter which features an anti-glare coating to help reduce eye strain from reflections. The scratch-resistant filter with its anti-bacterial coating doesn’t impact the colours or clarity on your screen, so you can continue enjoying a crystal-clear picture.
More ideas for commuter kit
Here’s some other great products which caught my eye in my quest to equip and inspire a weary work traveller:
- A sustainable and reusable coffee cup – I loved the design, eco credentials and leakproof promise of the Circular&Co. Reusable Coffee Cups. Designed for 10 years use and 100% recyclable.
- A pair of touchscreen gloves for tapping on your phone screen whilst keeping your fingers warm in winter weather – here are gloves made with a soft and warm merino blend from Seasalt Cornwall.
- A gorgeous notebook to help you keep a record of your thoughts as you whizz through beautiful British scenery can be a useful commuter accessory – and these luxury notebooks by The Stamford Notebook Co. are crafted by hand in using high quality British-milled paper and with many eco-conscious options.