Contrary to what most of us might believe, laptops actually weren’t designed for all-day use. They were intended to be convenient options for meetings and travel. However, today, millions of people are working at home with their laptops as their primary computer. The design of a laptop forces the user to look down at the screen, forcing them into a trade-off between a poor neck posture and a poor wrist posture. This can lead to significant health risks and complications, mainly when used for prolonged periods.
Many experts suggest that the pandemic can lead to a complete shift with employees working remotely. Therefore, it is vital that we learn more about laptop ergonomics and how it affects the human body. In this guide, we take into account the latest research, statistics and tips from our ergonomic experts to show you how to work best on your laptop without causing harm to your body.
Checklist for Frequent Laptop Use
If you use your laptop as your primary device ranging from a couple of hours to an entire workday, you fall into the category of a frequent laptop user.
- We highly recommend investing in a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse if you use a laptop as a primary device. This will allow you to set up an ergonomically sound workstation and help you work comfortably.
- The screen of your laptop is naturally much lower than a traditional monitor and you might be finding yourself looking down to see the screen. The weight of your head hanging forward for a long time can cause aches, pains and even long-term injuries. To avoid this, use a laptop riser or a laptop stand.
- The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that repetitive strain injuries affect 730 working people in every 100,000. Therefore, it is important to maintain neutral wrists while typing. This can be done by using a wrist rest.
- Align your ears with your shoulders to achieve a neutral position for your neck.
- Use an ergonomic chair that maintains the natural curve of your back, and use a footrest if your feet don’t reach the floor.
- Minimise glare by adjusting the lighting of your environment and increasing the contrast on your monitor. You can also opt for anti-glare screen filters to minimise reflections.
- Lastly, take a movement break every 30 minutes. It will not only refresh you but also does a world of good for your health, eyes and productivity.
Checklist for Occasional Laptop Use
If you use your laptop for less than an hour per day, you fall into the category of an occasional laptop user.
- Use a chair that helps you sit comfortably. This can either be in an upright position or a slightly reclined position.
- If possible, look for an elevated surface for your laptop, such as a kitchen table. However, if you don’t have that option, you can place the laptop on your lap. Make sure to place the laptop on a binder or document holder to increase the screen’s height and ensure a comfortable position for your neck.
- Do not place your laptop on a cushion. This can cut circulation and overheat your device.
- Do not hunch over your laptop screen. Angle your laptop screen backwards to minimise the pressure on your shoulder and neck.
- Take frequent breaks to move away from your laptop and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Have more questions about laptop ergonomics? Here’s how we can help you.
Our partners, Spectrum Optimise, are Ireland’s leading ergonomics experts with a team of physiotherapists and experts that will assess your workplace for you and give you some solid advice on how to work comfortably and get your laptop ergonomics right. Book an appointment here.