So far in our October Mobile Ergonomics series, we’ve looked at ways to work from your hotel room, a coffee shop and an airplane. Today, we move to the great outdoors, where you can combine productivity with a good dose of sunshine (or chilling winds, as the case may be). A great option for killing time between meetings sneaking in a little work during your lunch break or even spending the whole day, here are our top tips for working in the park.
1. Be Prepared for the Great Outdoors
Here’s the thing about working outside: you’ll be outside. As such, you’ll want to prepare for that fickle beast we call the weather. If you’ll be working during a “bridge” season like fall or spring when temperatures can fluctuate, make sure to bring plenty of layers. No matter what the season, you’ll want to pack a good sunscreen, especially for your face, and in the sunnier months you’ll want to bring sunglasses as well. If you’re prone to allergies, an over the counter medicine like Zyrtec or Claritin will also prove handy. Perhaps most importantly, make sure to protect all of your most important gear from the elements. A keyboard cover and laptop shell will protect your laptop from nicks, dirt and pollen, while a water-repellent cover for your backpack or laptop bag will keep the rain damage away.
2. Find Your Ideal Spot and Get Set Up
Are you a park bench person, or would you prefer to use a tree trunk for back support? Spreading out on a blanket is also a great option, especially if you’ve got reading to do. Or, if you prefer standing while you work, keep your eyes peeled for a high standing table.
Wherever you set up for the day (or that hour between meetings), it’s important to bring all of the right office gear to keep things productive and comfortable. Your best bet will be to work from a laptop or even a tablet, which will be less conspicuous to passerby. If you’ll be working from a picnic bench or chess board table, prop your device up on a laptop and tablet and pair it with one of our mobile keyboards so that you’ll be sure to keep from hunching or forcing your hands into unnatural and unhealthy positions. If you’ll really be there a long time, consider toting along your own chair like the kind you’d bring to an outdoor concert or the beach.
With the right gear in hand, you’ll settle down wherever you like and get to it.
3. Move Around
The great thing about working from a park is that you’re already in a great space for sneaking in some exercise. It’s much easier, after all, to hop right onto a path for a brisk walk when it’s right at your feet. Park benches also make for a great make-your-own exercise machine. Between emails, why not do a few quick dips or lunges? Doing so will get that heart pumping, refresh your brain and get you all ready to go for your next round of work.
4. Find a Good Wi-Fi Connection or Bring Your Own
You’re likely to find any number of open wi-fi connections in the park, but it’s not advisable to join them, especially if they’re named “free public wi-fi”. You never know when a scammer has set up or hacked into a network so that they can steal your data and login information.
Instead, try turning your smartphone into a wi-fi hotspot. Or, find a place in the park that’s relatively near a coffee shop and use their open wi-fi instead. Just make sure to buy a coffee for the park first, so you’re not stealing.
5. Use a Screen Guard
A public park is, well, public. With so many strangers passing by, it’s best to cover your laptop screen with a tinted screen guard, so only you can see sensitive information. And of course, you’ll want to make sure you never turn your back on any of your valuables, as a passing thief only needs a moment to make a grab.
A day or break in the park can be a great time to combine a nice scenic setting with a good bout of productivity. However, the park can be distracting, so make sure you’re well-prepared for every condition, whether that’s rain or snooping eyes. Have fun!