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Mobile computer work

Mobile computer work presents more challenges to keep safe postures.

Find out how to improve comfort and safety when you're working on the road or out of the office.

Working on the road or out of the office presents more challenges to keep safe postures. Trains, cars, hotels, cafes, libraries or client sites are not ideal places for you to work for long periods of time on your device. Even occasional mobile computer work can still create pain and injury, especially in your shoulder, neck, back and wrist.

​Tips for improving your comfort and safety

Find out before arriving at your location if you can sit and work at a table and a chair, ideally adjustable, with good back support. If this isn’t available, think about booking places such as co-working office space, libraries or hot desking at client sites. Here’s some other tips for improving your comfort and safety when you’re working on the road or out of the office.

Your equipment

Take only portable gear that you need, such as:

  • a light-weight laptop or tablet
  • a folding, lightweight laptop riser to raise your screen height
  • a separate compact keyboard and wireless mouse
  • a backpack or wheeled bag to carry your work items
  • headset/earphones to allow you to move around when on a phone or video call

As a mobile worker, simply carrying your equipment around can be an issue that leads to pain and injury. Use equipment that is easy to pack and carry and have a suitable backpack or pull-along bag to carry your gear.

Your setup

When you’re out on location, rather than working from your car, find a flat surface that is suitable to set up and a chair with a backrest.

For a better setup when using your device:

  • raise your laptop screen higher with books or firm pillows
  • use a rolled towel or jumper in the small of your back for lumbar support
  • sit on a folded towel if the table is too high for you
  • rest your feet on a backpack or rolled towels to support your feet
  • reduce eye strain by keeping your screen clean
  • adjust screen brightness, contrast and font size
  • move your screen to avoid working with sunlight or glare directly on it.

Reduce time using your keyboard

  • Use voice to text recognition or voice activated software, for example dictate content and then edit using keyboard.
  • Use voice commands.
  • Use shortcuts or hot keys.
  • Only do essential computer work when on the road.
  • Think about how you can do work without typing, for example making phone calls instead of emails.
  • Use a stylus pen and touchscreen for data entry when working onsite, for example when you’re doing inventory checks.

Staying active

Sitting for too long is not good for anyone, particularly when you’re not working in an ideal setup. It’s important to take frequent breaks and change your posture as much as possible. Depending on what you are doing and how hunched over you are, a break at least every 30 minutes can help manage your posture, visual, mental and physical fatigue. Vary your posture as much as you can, for example standing up when making phone calls.

Tips for buying equipment for mobile use

Choose equipment that suits your stature:

  • Taller workers need to make sure the laptop riser will adjust high enough so they can be in an upright posture and meet their visual needs.
  • Workers with larger hands may find a larger mouse will be more comfortable and less effort to use.
  • Shorter workers using a wide keyboard might have shoulder discomfort on their mouse arm. A compact keyboard may be better.

Choose equipment that is easy to pack and carry. Consider:

  • the weight of the items, i.e. laptop compared to tablet or notebook
  • the weight of the battery
  • how portable or collapsible it is, i.e. if it fits into your bag
  • the length of the equipment, for example short or compact keyboards
  • if it’s easy to set up and put away
  • using a backpack or a pull along bag – pull along bags may still need to be carried up a flight of stairs.