Monday, November 19, 2012

Bed as office? What ever happened to counting sheep.

Having idled away many the childhood hour working out in my head how I could live in an apartment the size of our bathroom - which was pretty darned small (maybe 6’ x 6’, if that) - I am no stranger to the concept of the multi-purpose room.

Yet I am still a bit taken aback by the news that so many folks are working from bed that all sorts of new items are coming on the market to support them.

Half of 1,000 workers polled this year by Good Technology, a Sunnyvale, Calif., mobile-security software company, said they read or respond to work emails from bed. A study of 329 British workers found nearly 1 in 5 employees spends two to 10 hours a week working from bed, according to the 2009 poll by Credant Technologies, a London-based data-security company…One 37-year-old who responded to a 2012 survey on the topic by Infosecurity Europe, a London industry group, said "when you work with people all around the world, it is difficult to avoid" working from bed. (Source: WSJ Online.)

Well, I had read that most of Gen Y/Gen I/Millennials sleep with their smartphones, rather than with each other. And if you’re curling up in bed with a good iPad, it’s not that much of a big deal to start thumbing through some e-mails.


Isn’t be for getting a good night’s sleep in. For napping. For canoodling. (For folks in their prime, the order should probably be reversed.)

Bed is for reading in. For reviewing the encounters of the day and previewing the events of tomorrow. Bed is for plopping clothing on when you do your semi-annual switcheroo from warm weather to cold. Bed is for sitting on when you kick off or put on your shoes. For throwing coats on when you have company.

Unless you’re a working girl (or guy), I don’t think that bed should be for working.

But that’s just me, apparently.  E.S. Kluft is promoting a 7’ x 7’ bed “as a place where couples can work.” What fun!

And you can buy a bed from Reverie with built-in outlets, so you can plug and play work. Which seems a bit at odds with their mission:

We have watched people work harder and harder to maintain the same standard of living, sacrificing sleep – and therefore their health – in the process…We challenged ourselves to create a true Sleep System that would help people sleep better and thus improve the quality of their lives.

But then Reverie did some digging of its own:

Market research by Reverie, a Walpole, Mass., maker of adjustable beds, suggests as many as 80% of young New York City professionals work regularly from bed, says chief executive Martin Rawls-Meehan. (Source: back to WSJ Online.)

I guess being able to answer e-mails in the middle of the night could help you sleep better and boost quality of life. But if you wake up in the middle of the night, doesn’t one generally have to go pee? And while you’re up to go pee, why not just poke your head into your home office, or the nook in your kitchen, or your den or wherever you keep your computing devices and check from there. (Easy for me to say, as my tiny home office is wedged between bedroom and bathroom.

But this does leads me to guess that the next step for bed-makers may be incorporating some sort of relieve-yourself subsystem. Forget the “en suite” bathroom that no self-respecting house-hunter can live without.  Why not “en bed”? Maybe I’m just channeling my inner-astronaut, but this is something to think about.


Meanwhile, Ikea has a nifty laptop holder that helps with air circulation. I have one of these that I use on my lap when I’m sitting in a chair, but it came from Staples and is pretty boring. But the point is that laptops run hot, and you don’t want to burn your lap, or scorch your bedding, especially if you have cheesy poly sheets, and not 800 thread count Egyptian cotton. The notion that what’s smokin’ hot in your bed might well be your laptop is pretty sad. And will we have to start worrying about fire hazards here? Will computing in bed replace smoking in bed as an existential threat?

The work from bed trend is apparently bi-directional. Steelcase, which, I’m quite sure,  most of us associate with ugly, utilitarian cubicle furnishings, is offering “feet-up work imagefurniture.” Not wild about the yellow, but now you’re talking – especially for those of us capable of snoozing while our seats are in a fully upright position. (I am definitely the person you want to be sitting behind on an airplane. I pretty much decline to recline – mostly because I’m just as comfortable without pushing back.)

For every yin there is, of course, a yang.

Productivity experts are arguing that if you’re a nocturnal e-mail checker, you’ll slack off during the day, fulfilling the need to work from bed. Lumbar experts are bemoaning the havoc that bed work can wreak on your back. And spouses everywhere are kicking their tech-obsessed partners, if not to the curb, then to the living room couch.

Folks would be well to heed Daniel Sieberg, a recovering device addict whose wife had nicknamed  him “Glowworm” because his face “was constantly illuminated by some sort of screen in bed." His bedroom is now off-limits to devices.

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