Watch Your Back. How to Work at Home with Comfort
- 24 Apr 2020
You may feel lucky if your work can be taken home during the quarantine. Mine can. But it takes a good setup to be able to fulfill your duties at home for long hours. Traditionally offices offer a desk with a desktop, a laptop or an all-in-one, peripherals if necessary, and an office chair to work and rest. It’s a classical setup, but not a necessary one. If you switch to remote work from home job conditions are up to you.
Let’s talk about alternatives. I have tried several, and I still cannot select between the balcony, the couch, and the kitchen, so I let the weather make the choice. Still, the variants did leave some impressions. And I won’t keep them private even if they are against all norms, because they’re taken from the experience.
Not that I’m recommending you these options as the only possible. What works for me may be impossible for you. Probably you have your own ways or know how to modify mine. Still, I’ll be glad if my recommendations help someone.
Writing Horizontally: How to Work in Bed
What does one need to write horizontally, like the ancients did? A laptop, of course. A good pillow. And something hard under the laptop. It can be a separate table or a special laptop one with a cooling system and extra USB ports. Or just a big book, but I worked remotely in this manner, and I always felt like reading it instead. No, that won’t do.
What should be the pillow be? Just imagine yourself lying on the couch. Probably, you’re lying prone, with your shoulders raised, and your head as well, to avoid typing with your nose. Right? If so, you will probably need a pillow under your chest. And sometimes turn around and stretch: with regular stretching low back pain won’t bother you that much.
And you better opt for a lumbar support model, to use it two ways: for putting it under your chest when prone, or under your back when you’re turning to the table. A special back pillow would fit your car, your chair, and your couch equally, so you better search for an item like this.
When speaking about the desk, a regular breakfast bedtable would do, but I prefer one designed for laptops. It has some special features (not all of them necessary):
- Lip to keep the laptop from slipping down;
- Built-in cooler (unnecessary but great to have);
- Built-in USB hub;
- Drawer for smaller accessories;
- Wrist pad (like those keyboards come with);
- Mousepad area;
- Trough for a cell phone (not necessary, because size varies);
- Coffee cup trough (the most necessary of all!);
- Detachable legs.
The last one is recommended, because by unscrewing the legs I easily turn the table into a tray with the same features remaining. I can put it before me, lying prone, and use my laptop easily, with no risk of sudden folding. By the way, this tray lets me use my iPad with a hardware keyboard by Logitech, which is unusable without a hard surface to put it on. The downside of this position is an inconvenience with the mouse. So if I really need it (for example, for doing graphics or video editing), I prefer the legged table beside the couch.
Optionally you can have a long laptop charger, and it should rather be an original one, no matter if you use a MacBook, a Surface, or whatever. You may have an extension cable in addition, but a generic power strip would do as well or even better.
Kitchen Setup: And as Much Coffee as You Wish
What does working remotely mean to you? To me, it’s as many coffee breaks a day as I want. Your kitchen probably has a tea table, I guess? If so, all you need is, in fact, a laptop. The pro of this approach is having your coffee machine (or a cezve) just a step away. If you don’t need anything special, just a laptop is enough. There must be enough sockets in the kitchen to go without a power strip.
The first of the items for your perfect feeling is a cushion behind your back. In fact, any little soft one will do. As you’re sitting while working, your muscles don’t get as strained as while on the couch. So, you don’t have to search for anything special, and… you will have your lumbar support pillow to spend an hour lying away from it all. But if you want to maximize your comfort, get yourself a lumbar/coccyx support seat set. Just make sure it’s compatible with your kitchen chairs or sofa.
As for your kitchen table, it’s probably not as large as the one in your dining room, but a laptop won’t fill it. There is still a place for accessories, and the first one is probably the mouse. Little have I to tell about it, but the trivial thing: a mouse should fit your hand, that’s the primary concern. If you alternate a laptop and a tablet with the keyboard (like I do), you better opt for a mouse with a Bluetooth module. The premium option is Logitech MX Anywhere 2S; I use its USB adapter with my Mac and connect it to the iPad via Bluetooth. If you need a cheaper alternative, there is Xiaomi Mi Mouse, also with a dual wireless module.
A mouse usually requires a mouse pad (unless you don’t mind washing it daily, accurate enough not to harm it with water). You better opt for a washable one, as in the kitchen it always risks getting dirty. Such a pad is under $5 on Amazon, and you can buy sets of them (which does not mean you should treat them like expendables).
A Work with a View
I must confess: I feel more inspired when looking at all those people down there, looking so small, holding each their own things and mysteries, and stuff. Maybe one should feel above others to create, I’m not sure. But I like working at my balcony.
The setup is similar to that in the kitchen. The only difference is a barstool. I bought one when my favorite bar started a sale after an update, but you can find one on Amazon just as easily. That’s what you should pay attention to:
- Adjustable height. Your windowsill may be of a different height, so you can find the best option.
- A backrest. It’s not a necessary element of a barstool, but one without it is good to have a drink and go dancing immediately. If you want one for work, a backrest is a must.
Anyway, probably you won’t spend more than two hours in it without a break. And then return to your lumbar support pillow.
Your Story for Mine!
Millions of you are now working remotely. Have you taken any action to make your home your dream office? Want would you recommend from your experience? Maybe you have tried anything of that above, or want to? Or ask a question? I’ll certainly take a break to read and enjoy it.