Thursday, November 29, 2012

Work Invades the Bedroom

Not my bedroom - but I wish it were!
(Source: Pottery Barn)
My sister once read a book about decorating in the feng-shui tradition, which values decor as a means to joy and harmony. Her source didn't recommend having pictures of anyone in the master bedroom except for the "masters" of the house. Even pictures of kids were off limits, because the master bedroom should be a sanctuary for husband and wife (or whomever rooms there). I don't remember much else about that conversation, except that I didn't want to take my kids' pictures out of my room.

My bedroom exudes anything but peace, joy and harmony. As I've mentioned in a previous post, the room also doubles as my husband's home office. And it's also my second office when someone is occupying the guest bedroom which doubles as my first office. We've had a lot of visitors lately, and my work files, folders and textbooks lie on the floor at my bedside.

So yes, my husband and I bring work into the bedroom (work actually lives there), and we bring work to bed with us. And not just at night. Sometimes I find hubby in bed with his laptop during the day - he says he needs a break from his aching office chair.

I found a great article in the Wall Street Journal that reveals that we're just two of a growing number of people who do the same thing. As a result of this trend, businesses are finding new ways to cater to us. A few new products that have hit the market (from WSJ):
* The Double Duty: A two-part adjustable bed by Reverie with built-in outlets (set starts at $5,999), allows one person to work while the other snoozes.
* The Soft Desk: IKEA's laptop holder ($15) helps air circulate under a laptop better than placing it on a lap or sheets. (Side note: we have a similar model at our home.)
* Laptop Lifter: Furinno's folding bed tray ($62 at adjusts for comfort. (These are the modern-day TV trays from the 70s.)
* Pseudo Beds for the Office: Office-furnishings firm Steelcase is marketing feet-up work furniture.
* Surf Like an Egyptian: This pyramid pillow, available at ($39), can prop up a tablet—and keep stray pens from getting lost in the sheets.
* Mattresses that are larger than standard sizes, so couples have more room to lay out papers and devices.
As hard as some of these products try to make working in bed more comfortable, the practice has many ergonomic pitfalls: back problems, sleep problems, eye and wrist strain, and neck and shoulder pain. Not to mention psychosocial implications like loss of intimacy. I love this interactive graphic which highlights these issues. I am definitely the partner on the right, trying to sleep:

Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet (a book I now plan to get my husband for Christmas), says:
...Many people who bring laptops or other devices to bed get stiff necks or backs from holding their bodies in strange positions, propping themselves up on their elbows or rolling around trying to get comfortable. Tapping casually on a smartphone or tablet touch screen in bed is less likely to cause ergonomic problems than multitasking intensively on a laptop. But working on any mobile device in bed for more than an hour without lumbar support, with the neck bent forward too sharply, or with the arms and hands suspended at an awkward angle, is likely to cause aches and pains.
According to the article, Mr. Sieberg, a former device "addict," has made his bedroom a device-free zone. Such a great idea for adults - and for teenagers and kids. I wonder if my husband would agree to this. And if I could possibly find another space for all of my stuff...

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