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Toronto Star Article November 16th 2012 by A Livingstone featuring JE Sleeth Optimal Performance

Home / Ergonomic design; Ergonomics / Toronto Star Article November 16th 2012 by A Livingstone featuring JE Sleeth Optimal Performance
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Workers taking their jobs to bed

Published on Friday November 16, 2012

Andrew Livingstone
Staff Reporter

Much to the chagrin of experts — and life partners — more people are cozying up in bed with their laptop or Smartphone, getting some work done before falling asleep. Businesses are even cashing in on the trend with comfy, ergonomically designed products for the pillow-based employee.

A survey by mobile tech company Good Technology found that half of the adult office workers they polled responded to work e-mails beneath the sheets. Another survey, completed by Infosecurity Europe in London, found that 70 per cent of the workers they asked spent at least half an hour a day working in bed.

Experts say the trend could create health issues, both physical and mental. “Using a computer in bed, I think it’s a terrible idea,” said Susan Gregory, a Toronto-based productivity expert and corporate trainer. “You need to know when you’re working and when you’re not. Sometimes people don’t create that separation.”

And working in bed can impact productivity. “If you’re looking at a computer late at night, even just looking at the glowing screen, your brain will think it is daytime and you should be awake,” said Gregory. In the end, you’ll be more tired the next day and the quality of your work will suffer, she added.

Jane Sleeth, a Toronto-based ergonomics consultant and physiotherapist, said the habit can cause pain and damage to the back and especially the neck. “It’s held forward compared to the rest of the spine” when sitting in bed, she said. “When you put the spine into that posture, you load parts of the spine in ways they weren’t supposed to be.”

Despite the health warnings, it seems the habit is becoming more acceptable. Working in bed only caused friction between partners in 25 per cent of workers polled. “The trend isn’t going away,” said Sleeth. There are things people can do to limit the risks, she added. “Get extra pillows so you’re almost in a sitting position to give support in the lower back.”

The trend, which Sleeth said is caused by employers providing laptops and mobile devices to staff leading to work during off-hours, has sparked a number of bed-related products, including a pyramid pillow that can prop up a tablet and store office supplies; a laptop tray that can sit on your bed; and an Ikea laptop holder that will circulate air away from your lap or sheets.

For Gregory, though, it’s simple: turn off technology an hour before bed and keep the office out of the sheets. “Have a set place (to work) because you’re going to be more efficient, compared to bed where it’s a place for rest and some other activities.”


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