The Mobile Newspaper
Stress Management for Telecommuters
Mobile Commuting Rules
Mobile Computing Environments
Wireless Mobile Computing
As computers’ ability to communicate with one another increases, information technology is beginning to have profound effects on many aspects of the organization, one of the most significant being how they make it much easier for people to move around while keeping in touch.
The MOBILE NEWSPAPER
Many newspapers offer on-line versions of their editions, some free and some others requiring a subscription. Some lets you to customize your newspaper by selecting the topics that interests you the most. When you are mobile, or out of town on a trip, you can still read your favorite newspaper via the Internet.
It is estimated that millions of people all over the world are employed in part or full time telecommuting programs. Millions more work from home informally or operate home-based businesses. This is seen by many as being more productive and also better for the environment. In certain circumstances, telecommuting may even be required such as in the case of an organization that does not have enough room for all its employees. The ergonomic tips below will help you feel comfortable no matter where you are using your notebook computer — meeting room, car, airplane, or hotel.
Stress Management for Telecommuters
Telecommuting is work performed away from the conventional office through the use of telecommunications equipment. Some of the benefits of telecommuting are increased flexibility, improved work/life balance, reduced commuting time, reduced stress, increased personal control, increased individual productivity, etc.
When you start telecommuting, expect a 30-90 day adjustment period. Even the most organized and conscientious person will need some time to learn how to manage time, work space, communication systems, and work assignments while working in two locations.
Given below are the common challenges of telecommuting and ways to combat them:
- Isolation – Telecommuters working at home may miss the camaraderie and support of coworkers. To avoid this communicate regularly with coworkers and manager using e-mail, voice-mail, notes, telephone, etc.., attend all team meetings and conference calls, consider part-time telecommuting, form telecommuting support group and have good social network outside work.
- Difficulty Managing Time – Without formal structure that the workplace provides, it may be difficult for telecommuters to work efficiently. To avoid this maintain a regular schedule, set up workspace with all equipment/materials within reach, periodically make a list of objectives, make a prioritized “to-do” list with discrete duties, keep your work organized, contact office daily an agreed upon number of times and take planned breaks.
- Burnout/Overwork – Since telecommuting gives 24- hour access to work, workaholics may work to excess. To prevent this establish routine to structure your work time, set firm starting and stopping times, inform coworkers of your working hours, take regular breaks and set reasonable expectations of your day’s work.
- Household Distractions – Blurred boundaries between work and family may interfere with telecommuter productivity. You can prevent this to a certain extent by having dedicated work space at home, preferably with a door that locks, work space should give family message that telecommuter is working and is not to be disturbed, teaching family members when it is OK and not OK to interrupt, making sure plan is in place for children to be cared for while you are working.
- Career Advancement Concerns – Telecommuters may worry that their reduced visibility will limit their potential for advancement. To avoid this schedule regular meetings with manager to assess needs, get feedback, and discuss problems, keep manager informed about status of work/projects and let manager know about work successes.
- When using your notebook computer in your work or home office, you may be more comfortable using a standard keyboard and display along with comfortable furniture.
- Use a chair that gives you good lower back support. In a mobile computing environment, consider propping a pillow, rolled-up towel or other soft object against the back of your chair. Sitting on a soft object such as a cushion is an easy way to adjust an otherwise non-adjustable chair such as those typically found in a kitchen or hotel room.
- Keep your forearms, wrists and hands in a relaxed, neutral position. This can be accomplished by adjusting the height of either the work surface or your chair.
- Keep your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet flat on the floor or a footrest. In a mobile computing environment, consider placing your feet on a book, briefcase or other solid object.
- Keep your head in a comfortable position. A 15-degree downward viewing angle is optimal.
- Maintain a comfortable viewing distance. 20 to 30 inches is optimal.
- Position your display so as to avoid glare or reflections from overhead lighting, outside sources of light, or even reflections off of your own shirt. Consider closing blinds, turning off some overhead lights and/or orienting the display perpendicular to the light source.
- Keep your display screen clean and set the contrast and brightness to levels that allow you to see the screen clearly. Remember that LCD displays are not as bright as standard displays.
- Frequent short work/rest breaks are especially important in a mobile computing environment. In addition, it is especially important to listen to your body and take a work/rest break when the first signs and symptoms of discomfort arise.
- If there is a table available, adjust your chair height so that your elbow is slightly higher than the table top. You can always put your feet on any available solid object.
- If a table is not available, use your briefcase or similar thin object as a flat surface to rest your notebook computer on while typing.
- If you absolutely must use a notebook computer in a car, pull to the roadside and move to the passenger seat. Consider using your briefcase or similar object as a flat surface to type on.
- Never operate your notebook computer while driving.
- If you need to use your notebook computer on an airplane, try to choose a bulkhead seat or, as a second choice, an exit row. Bulkhead seats are not limited by a seatback reclined in front of you. Exit rows provide more seat-to-seat spacing and will allow you to keep your arms to a more neutral position.
- While most hotel desks and chairs may not provide the optimal mobile computing environment, you can make yourself more comfortable:
- Use a rolled-up bath towel or pillow to support the lumbar (lower) region of your back.
- Use a bath towel or pillow as a padded seat cushion.
- While it is not advisable to use your notebook computer in bed, if you need to do so, pay close attention to your posture and ensure that the lumbar region of your back is properly supported. In addition, try to sit up straight so as to avoid neck, shoulder and back discomfort. Use pillows to support your lower back and head.
- Laptops and Notebooks may weigh between approximately 4 to 8 pounds depending on the model. When traveling, prolonged holding or carrying that weight has a direct effect on your posture. Remember to shift the notebook computer between hands/shoulders frequently to provide mini-rests to each side of your body and when you need to carry baggage, try to balance the load on both sides of you body.
MOBILE COMPUTING RULES
Given below are the some general guidelines that can help you reduce stress and strain when you are on the road (mobile computing):
Mobile Computing Environments
Some of the mobile computing environments are meeting rooms, car, airplane, hotel, etc. We will see some mpre tips for specific to these environments.
WIRELESS MOBILE COMPUTING
Computers are making it increasingly easy for workers to roam outside the office while remaining in constant touch through e-mail, file transfer, or some form of conferencing.
Figure 1. A Mobile Worker
With a radio modem, a roaming employee can use radio frequency (RF) communications in most major cities to send and receive e-mail without searching for a phone jack. Cellular digital packet data (CDPD), which will soon be available on the same radio frequency used by cellular phones, transmits digital data as packets as well as voice. With the mobile facilities, the employees working in the field will have access to the company’s network computers and data from wherever they are just as if they were at their desks in their office. So armed with a cellular phone (or in some case Iridium Phones), and a portable computer, the mobile worker of today can be anywhere in the world and still be in touch with the office.
With the growth of networks and easy connections, a new virtual corporation is possible. The company-in-a-box is a dream of many engineers and planners who envision businesses operating in cyberspace to coordinate employees and provide services on-line.
Who knows, at some point in the future it may seem quaint to bring people together at the same place to work or be educated. Many of these groupings will take place electronically, with everyone home or wherever they want to be. And it may not be as far in the future as you imagine. The virtual office setup can be at a low cost. It will allow managers and others to spend more time with customers; improve employee satisfaction and productivity by working with fewer interruptions; alleviate traffic congestion; improve air quality; and gradually reduce real estate cost. It will reduce or eliminate commuting so that there is more time after hours for family and friends.