Hotel Room Ergonomics: Stay Comfortable and Focused When You're Away from Home

Hotel Room Ergonomics: Stay Comfortable and Focused When You're Away from Home

Posted by Human Solution on Apr 16th 2013

If you are a regular follower of our blog, you may remember from my last post that I recently attended the Applied Ergonomics Conference in Dallas. One of the coolest things about going to a conference is living in a fancy hotel for a few days. One of the least cool things about going to a conference is that being away from work does not prevent your email inbox from filling up. You see people on their laptops everywhere during a conference, desperately trying to take care of as much business as possible in between sessions and meet-and-greets. You see them in the lobby with their notebook on their lap, hunched over, trying to angle the screen just right.

While I was there, my boss, Professor Ergo himself, forwarded me this video from Steve Meagher, physical therapist and founder of Site Solutions, with his tips for achieving a more ergonomic position in a hotel room.

His advice included adjusting the height of your chair high enough so that your hips are over your knees, and also lifting up the back of the laptop with whatever you have available – Steve uses the informational binder found in most hotel rooms – to allow your wrists to take a straighter and more neutral position as you type.

I found that I had an added element to my temporary workstation in my hotel room – a shorter table on wheels under the regular desk. Pulling this table out allowed me to lower the keyboard of my laptop, giving my arms a better angle as I typed. It was sort of like a keyboard tray, but it also lowered my monitor, since, as you know, the keyboard and monitor on a laptop are connected. I tried lifting up the back of my laptop and opening up the angle a bit, just as I had seen on Steve’s video, to optimize my viewing position. I also adjusted the height of my chair, and tried doubling up a pillow to sit on, which opened up the front of my hips and helped me sit up straighter.

This actually worked to a degree, and I noticed that, by making myself more comfortable, I was able to concentrate better and get more work done in this usually non-conducive environment. I realized that there were two things that would have completed my setup perfectly: a travel keyboard and a separate mouse. Then I would have been able to raise my monitor up to eye level by putting my laptop on the higher desk, but still keep my wrists comfortable by typing and mousing on the lower table. These are definitely a couple of accessories I will not forget on my next trip!

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