As we discussed in last week’s blog post, co-working can be a great way for workers of any discipline to combine the best of the office and telecommuting worlds. With smart, creative independent colleagues by your side, a day spent co-working is a day immersed in creativity, new ideas and a productive hum.
If you’re interested in co-working, there are a plethora of venues from which to choose, from those that feature a laid back, coffee shop atmosphere to spaces so slick, you’d think you stumbled into some high powered executive suite. While some will be designed with ergonomics in mind, it’s not a guarantee. So, it’s important to be prepared to take your own ergonomics with you. Here are a few ways to hack your co-working space for comfort and productivity.
1. Keep a Few Good Books in Your Locker
Unless your co-working space has adjustable desks (unlikely), you’ll probably be stuck sitting most of the day. That’s bad news, as sitting can seriously damage your health, increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and musculoskeletal problems. You can mitigate the effects of sitting somewhat by taking breaks to move around, but you’ll see even greater benefits if you to stand up for as much of the day as possible.
Of course, you can’t make permanent adjustments to your co-working desk. But, you can place both your monitor and your keyboard on a stack of books. Use a lightweight laptop stand to lift your screen to a comfortable angle, ensure your keyboard is placed at just the right angle so that you’re not straining your wrists, and type the day away.
The biggest benefit of all? When you’re ready for lunch, you’ve got some good reading material right beneath your monitor.
2. Bring Your Own Keyboard (BYOK)
Mobile devices like laptop and tablets are at the heart of what makes co-working possible. (We challenge you to find a coworker who lugs their entire desktop into work every day). But small, straight keyboards force your wrists into less than ideal positions. They increase the likelihood of eventually developing carpal tunnel syndrome and other RSIs. This is a fate coworkers can easily overcome with what Andrew Jones of Austin co-working space, Conjunctured calls “pimped out keyboards.” A mobile keyboard or mini keyboard, for example, are lightweight, easy to transport, and will gently guide your wrists and hands into optimal positions. That’s crucial for any coworker who spends all day typing (so…pretty much every coworker).
3. Have a Good Boundary Setting Strategy
As anyone who has worked in a busy environment knows, in order to get anything done, it’s important to know when it’s time to engage with those great connections and when it’s time to funnel down into your work. One fun, low-tech way to do that is with a product called Flockd. Lay this little paper plane-like device sideways on your desk, and your coworkers will know you’re not looking to connect. Set it straight up, and they’ll know you’re up for chatting. This is an easy way to set boundaries without hurting anyone’s feelings and still maintaining a good relationship for later on.
With a strategy like this you’ll be able to take advantage of what Jones dubs the two main benefits of co-working: productivity and community. “Lots of work gets done and friendships formed,” Jones says. “We’ve had countless new companies formed between coworkers. That is one of the main attractions.”
4. Wear Headphones
Every day in a co-working space is different from the next. That’s part of the excitement and stimulation. But, it can also prove difficult if there’s a lot of chatter and you need to concentrate. Just like Flockd, a pair of headphones will let everyone else know not to disturb you. Plus, if they’re noise canceling, you’ll be able to concentrate through thick and thin.
5. Don’t make it TOO comfortable
Of course, while ergonomic comfort in your co-working space is essential, don’t make it too comfortable, or else you might just fall asleep. Think hard before you bring in that comfy pillow and that pair of fuzzy slippers lest you snooze the day away.
Co-working is a fun, exciting and stimulating way to spend the day. With these tips at hand, you’ll be sure to make the most of your co-working days, taking advantage of all of the pros and overcoming the cons. If you’re interested in co-working, we highly recommend browsing through this helpful co-working wiki to find a space near you. Have fun!