August 26, 2012
The Wall Street Journal's City section reports on a physician's take on "how workers can make over their work spaces so they can become more physically fit while on the job" and its implication for both wellness and productivity.
The doctor, Anup Kanodia of Ohio, suggests that the "centerpiece of workplace self-improvement is standing" and goes so far as to opine that sitting is "like smoking and alcohol abuse".Further, he notes "even if someone exercises, it does not mitigate the risks of sitting. While it is a problem that is unlikely to afflict hotel front desk associates and airline check-in agents it probably has application to just about every sedentary office situations and even many service jobs like reservation agents.
Also from Ohio, EHSToday, an ergonomics and safety publication reports on productivity and ergonomics with a focus on hazards that road warriors face and the steps they can take to ameliorate them. They quote egonomics experts Humantech in listing ten ways frequent travelers can work more ergonomically when traveling:
- 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 (notably Hampton Inns) now include a lap desk 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.
Also on the ergonomics front, a report takes a shot at ubiquitous back-lit mobile devices saying that a "two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22%. Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using devices prior to bedtime." That's another trip for road warriors who tend to work on these devices till they're ready to turn it in for the night only to find that perhaps more than jet lag melatonin suppression results in sleep deprivation.