If you’re thinking about experimenting with a new workspace, you’ll find there are a lot more pros than cons to co-working — the new working craze that’s growing increasingly popular with telecommuters, startups, entrepreneurs and creative types all across the country. Last week, we discussed a number of tips for staying productive in your co-working space in the face of tempting distractions. Today, let’s take a look at a few ways to mold your individual workspace to you so that you can work in ergonomic comfort, all the co-working day long.
1. Chair Cushions
Co-working spaces really differ in the kind of seating they provide. Some go with comfy but ultimately unsupportive couches, like the kind you would find in a coffee shop, while others go sleek and modern, which can look great but be a real pain in the back (and joints and tailbone). If your ideal co-working space has less than ideal seating such as very hard seats, bring your own cushion with you to take pressure off of your bones. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got good lumbar support, so you might want to bring an inflatable cushion to place behind your lower back. You can also buy an extra mesh to strap behind your back, but that will be much more cumbersome to transport than an inflatable pillow.
2. Ergonomic Keyboard
Whether you’ve set up shop in the back of your car between meetings or you prefer working from 10,000 feet in the air, the keyboard for your laptop or tablet is bound to do damage to your body, as it forces your hands and wrists into an unnatural, straight position. The same is just as true for coworking, where you’re far more likely to work from a mobile device than to, say, drag your entire desktop into the office every day. The solution isn’t with the device itself; instead, buy yourself a mobile ergonomic keyboard that can separate in the middle so you can find the right angle for your wrists and typing style. Doing so is a great way to prevent carpal tunnel in the long term and fatigue in the short term.
3. Portable Desk Lamp
Most co-working spaces should have good lighting, but, just like with office seats, some do sacrifice optimal lighting for style. If yours falls into this category, it makes sense to bring with you a small, portable LED light like this one to increase your available light. Doing so will help prevent eye strain — something you’re already at a higher risk of developing when you spend so many hours staring at backlit screens. And, if you’re craning to see the text on your screen, proper lighting will also help prevent back, neck and shoulder pain.
4. Tablet and Laptop Stand
If lighting isn’t the culprit at the heart of your upper body muscle pain, then the height and and angle of your screen just might be. That’s because the attached screen and keyboard on mobile devices makes it next to impossible to get both your keyboard and your screen at the correct angle at the same time. When paired with an ergonomic keyboard, a mobile tablet and laptop stand will help you position your screen at just the right height and distance so that you’re not straining your neck in any direction. If you prefer to stand while you work, just stack that stand on a pile of books.
5. Ergonomic Mouse
A small, lightweight ergonomic mouse is another important bring-along, as laptop tracking pads and tablet touch screens force your wrist into painful angles that can cause real damage over the long term. This is all the more so if you’re using a laptop or tablet stand, which raises the screen to an angle that, while being great for eyes, is too severe for wrists. An ergonomic mouse puts an end to that problem, and with Bluetooth models available, they won’t necessarily mean tangles for your laptop bag.
Throughout November, we’ve explored many unique aspects of co-working, as well as a number of ways to make it work for your individual needs. So, what do you think? Will you give it a try? If so, what ergonomic tools will you give a spin? Let us know in the comments below!