These days, a lot of us travel for work. Business consultants, software engineers, and even trainers like me find ourselves working in coffee shops, restaurants, and hotel rooms on our laptops. So when you’re on the go, how can you make your workstation as ergonomic as possible? In this article, we’ll talk about 3 quick tips to help you create an ergonomic workstation while traveling.
If you’d like a video walkthrough of what I use to create an ergonomic workstation when I’m traveling, check out this video.
Ergonomic workstation tip #1: Use a separate mouse
Using the trackpad on a laptop keyboard forces you to pull your hand in which inevitably leads to your shoulder pulling forward and down.
Your scapular position suffers which can negatively affect blood flow into your hand and forearms. If you’re really unlucky like me, you may find it cause you lots of pain and muscular atrophy. I suffered for years with hand and wrist pain. My doctors kept calling it a “repetitive strain injury,” but the truth was I was constantly sitting in a crappy position, and my body was suffering for it.
Having a separate mouse allows you to keep your chest open and your shoulders pulled back a bit more, which will help keep your body happier as you’re working.
My personal favorite is a rather unconventional mouse: the Sharkk. It has a vertical alignment (so it looks like a shark fin), which keeps my hand comfortable. It does make it a bit bulkier for travel, but it’s well worth it to me.
You may notice that I have linked to a mouse with a cable. That’s because I hate how wireless mouses randomly die when the batteries run out. A wired mouse works basically forever as near as I can tell.
Ergonomic workstation tip #2: Use a separate keyboard
Once you realize that the trackpad is an issue, the keyboard becomes an even more obvious issue. With both hands pulled directly in front of you, both shoulders are pulled into an awkward protracted, downwardly rotated, anteriorly tilted position.
This means BOTH shoulders and arms get in trouble. By using a separate keyboard, preferably one that has at least a slight ergonomic split, you can keep the chest open and shoulders back more.
When traveling, I pack the Goldtouch Go!2 wireless keyboard. I’ve had it for about two years now, and it’s worked remarkably well for me.
Ergonomic workstation tip #3: Put your laptop on a stand
I know that it can be a hassle to have a separate stand for your laptop, but it’s well worth it. If you can elevate your laptop so the screen is set at eye level, you’ll find it easier to breathe (literally). It’ll also help you fight the scourge of forward head posture.
You don’t need to use anything fancy. You can use a stack of books. You can use a tissue box. In the video at the top of this post, I actually used a protein powder container that I had with me.
Without a laptop stand, you’re staring down at your hands the whole time, meaning you’re exacerbating forward posture and teaching your entire body to slump into a poor postured mess.
Summary of workstation ergonomics
- Get a mouse!
- Get a keyboard!
- Put your laptop up on top of something!
Follow these three simple tips to ensure a productive and pain-free workday while you’re traveling!
Got any tips of your own?
Feel free to leave them in the comments section below!