Now I don’t actually get sent that much stuff – mostly because I ask people not to – the house is quite full and unless I really love it or need it then I try not to add to the personal landfill that is the space in the loft behind the sofa, which, if it wasn’t so dang hot would surely be a minimalist pile of tidiness by now.
Although it’s definitely chillier at the time of writing and that pile has been growing since 2104 when the loft was converted… Anyway, be that as it may. When I was asked about this I was intrigued and decided it was worth a closer look. It’s called a Bento but instead of the compartments being for sushi and salad it’s for your office stuff.
The idea is that you can store the things you really need for your desk and then open it out on your desk where it can double up as a notebook stand.
Now despite the fact that I have this wonderful space in the loft, I often, I regret to say, work at the kitchen table. Which is a sort of domestic version of hot-desking as I have to put everything away at the end of the day.
I also often type up notes from a book and it’s a small thing, but so handy to be able to prop that book up so you can glance from screen to page without having to move your head to much or keep breaking off from typing to flatten the pages down again. I said it was a small thing.
So I rather love this. Inside there is a rubber mat with a couple of non-slip compartments for cables and phones, notebooks and pens. Sadly it wouldn’t take the computer charger as that plug is rather bulky but if you were travelling to an office with this I’m guessing you’d carry the Bento in another bag anyway as it doesn’t have a handle.
I’ve been using this in the kitchen for a few days now and I do love that I can bundle in the work stuff at the end of the day and rest the computer on the top. It’s become a sort of gathering place for receipts and invoices and Things That Need Dealing With.
But there is also another part to this kit which is the stand. Now, working at a laptop I thought I wouldn’t need this but it’s true that it’s better for you to have the screen at eye level and the keyboard at right angles to your elbows. This is something I haven’t thought about for years as I’ve only used a laptop for the last 10 years and some of that time I’ve been using it, literally, on my lap, which is probably a disaster as far as posture and ergonomics go.
I thought I would set it up just for the photographs so those of you who have a desk top, and who like a tidy desk, can see how it all fits neatly underneath. That, I thought, would be that.
Then I was rummaging around in the kitchen cupboard that is loosely designated the office cupboard – paperclips, pens, batteries and chargers etc, and I found a bluetooth keyboard. Even better for the pictures I thought, carting the whole lot smugly up to the loft.
And here I have been ever since. I have paired the keyboard to the laptop. My back is straight. My elbows are at right angles. My feet are firmly flat on the floor and the screen is at eye level.
I could type for days. Maybe I will. There’s a new book proposal to see to so I could start with that.
Now you can slide the bento box out and turn it to face the other way so you can rest the notebook directly in front of you rather than to one side, with the keyboard in front of but my desk isn’t wide enough for that and I’ve spent 25 years looking slightly sideways at my notebook so I can’t change that now.
What do you think? It’s not the cheapest bit of kit you will find but I can tell you that it’s well-made and (presumably) tax-deductible. You can buy the basic monitor stand for $69 (it’s $99 for the height adjustable one which you see here) and $99 for the bento box or $189 the whole set. Currently shipping is free – Bento and it comes in black as well.
There is a video about how it works (scroll right down) but the idea came when Dataflex started to think about how many more people work from home, or travel to an office where they must hotdesk, or work in a place which insists on clean desks (and that policy wasn’t dreamt up by anyone who ever worked in a newspaper).
Their research found that seven out of 10 people suffer from the negative effects of poor ergonomics -mostly due to poor posture at work. They realised that over the last five years there has been a huge change in how – and how much – we interact with our devices yet there has been very little advance in accessories to help us do that.
Inspired by the Japanese Bento box that lets you organise, store and carry your lunch, they decided to reinvent it for the workspace.