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Backpacks for Work

backpacks-for-workAre there any backpacks that are stylish and large enough to hold file folders, binders and more on your commute from work? Backpacks are super trendy right now, but all of the really stylish bags are far too small for file folders or work papers. I was just at an event where I saw a young lawyer carrying a large, stylish backpack and my first thought was, good for her — whether she’s biking to work, walking to work, or just watching out for back problems down the line, it’s a smart move.  Coincidentally, I also recently got a question from Reader B, who wants to start walking to work and carrying large files — so I thought we’d go on a mini-Hunt. Here’s B’s question:

I’m looking to start walking to work more as I recently bought a home which sits about a mile away from my office. However, I’m an attorney and am often carrying case files and other paperwork back and forth. Tote bags, no matter what the straps are like, begin to hurt my shoulders on this. I know a backpack would solve the problem but as a relatively young professional, I’m afraid to look like I can’t let go of my college backpack days. Is it ever acceptable to wear a backpack to the office

Interesting question, B — I’ve written before of my love of walking to work, but I’ll admit that for any real file carrying I took cabs and client-paid cars to and from the office.  A few notes on tote bags, just at the outset: first, note that a leather bag is going to be far, far heavier than a nylon tote for work — and that I always found a single shoulder strap to be more comfortable for a long schlep. (You may also want to check out our advice on how to lighten your load.) Still, if you’re already feeling pain, there are a ton of backpacks right now that distribute the weight better across your back — I’ve rounded up a few of my top picks below, ranging from $29-$550.  Readers, would you consider wearing a backpack to work? Have you bought any backpacks for work lately that you love — and what qualities make one more or less professional and stylish in your mind?

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Petite Office Ergonomics (and: How Does Your Office Handle Ergonomics?)

ergonomics - employer's responsibilityIf you’re petite and your office desk is too tall for you — enough that it’s causing you pain while you work — how much is your employer required to do to make your desk/chair setup more ergonomic? What if you work at a nonprofit? Reader A asks…

I wonder if you could address what my work place is required to do regarding ergonomics? About a year ago I started a new position where I sit at a desk all day. (For the last 5 years I worked remotely meeting clients 90% of the time.) Since then I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting weird pains in my back, wrists, hips, and neck. I’m just about 5’2″ so my desk is too tall for me, my typing and monitor alignment are all wrong. If I raise the chair to the right height, my feet dangle, and resting them on the chair base caused weird hip pain (and a footrest just wasn’t convenient.) I work for a nonprofit, so buying new office supplies isn’t really at the top of our priority list, but can I request one for health purposes? If not, do you have another suggestion? (I live in Ohio if that matters.) Thanks for the help!

Interesting question, Reader A. We haven’t talked about ergonomics in a little while, and I’m curious to hear what readers think about this, both petite and otherwise. What ergonomic hacks have you used for your office? What help have you gotten from your employer in the matter, whether officially (ergonomics consultant, ergonomics budget) or after the fact (e.g., being able to get a $36 footrest reimbursed)?  

First, though, we asked an expert for his take on Reader A’s situation. Paul Krewson, OTR/L, CEAS III — an occupational therapist, ergonomist, and president of Peak Ergonomics — suggested the following:

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Open Thread: A Comfortable and Pain-Free Office…

ergonomic-office-tipsHere’s something we’re curious about:  How many of you have picked out your own desk chairs, keyboard drawers, and so forth in an effort to make your office more ergonomic and comfortable? Which brands have you found to be the best?

We’ve read a million articles about how — without the right set-up — your office could be causing you back pain, headaches, eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. In terms of eye strain, we’ve noticed a huge difference in a flat-screen monitor versus one of the old CRT monitors.  We also prefer a keyboard tray versus having our keyboard sitting on top of our desk.  Otherwise, we are far from experts on the subjects, so thought we would turn to you guys.  Does anyone swear by the Aeron chair?  Did changing the “refresh rate” for your monitor change your life?  Do tell…

(Pictured:  Ergonomics matters, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ezu.)

Further reading:
Office Ergonomics, WebMD

How to Ease Back and Neck Pain at the Office, eHow

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