Is your work force always in transit? Do you have “road warriors” who constantly are on planes or in hotel rooms, trying to catch up on work?
It helps to understand the difficulties that work travel can present in terms of ergonomics when you have workers who are dragging suitcases through airports and in and out of car trunks or who are trying to balance their laptops on a hotel bed along with a room service tray.
Humantech asked each of its certified professional ergonomists for their best tips on working smarter outside of the office and here are their suggestions:
- Use a four-wheeled suitcase. It requires less force to move and you can push it through the airport by your side in a neutral wrist posture rather than having to reach behind your body and pull or drag a suitcase.
- Wear a laptop backpack (on both shoulders) or use a strap on the back of your laptop bag to slide it over the handles of your suitcase to minimize bending over and the stress on your neck and shoulders.
- Always use the luggage rack in your hotel room to pack/unpack your luggage to minimize bending. Do not put open luggage on the floor. If a luggage rack isn’t available, use the bed or a chair or ottoman.
- Use the hotel business center when available. Most companies now have a webmail application, so email can be checked from any computer. This will allow you to use a full-size monitor and keyboard instead of the small monitor and cramped keyboard on your laptop.
- Hotel desk chairs can have limited height adjustability. Sit on one of the many bed pillows and even put one on the chair armrest to support your arms and keep a more neutral mousing posture.
- Use an external keyboard for tablets when writing emails. Also, save longer emails for when you can access a computer versus typing them out on your phone.
- Some hotels now include a lap desk (see image) in every room. This ergonomic feature supports a more neutral posture allowing you to sit in bed and work.
- Vary postures between sitting and standing. Visit the hotel’s restaurant bar after you’ve been sitting for a while. Many airport lounges now have raised tables so you can stand during your layovers too.
- Use task/reading lights when working in your hotel room or on an airplane. As nice as natural light is on the plane, it can put strain on the eyes if it’s not enough.
- Purchase a compact extension power strip, as there might only be one or two accessible plugs in a hotel room. For laptop and phone chargers, retractable cords save a lot of space in your luggage, and they don’t get tangled.