Laptop computers have transformed the workplace over the past 10 years and now play an integral role in the office environment. Thanks to the laptop's portability and affordability, the use of desktop PCs in modern offices has declined. Soon, the majority of office-bound employees could be typing away at their desk on small business laptops.
Despite the increased number of laptop-toting workers though, you won’t find much information about the ergonomics of hunching over laptops for long hours. In this article, we offer a few simple, affordable tips on how you can set up your laptop to reduce the stresses imposed on your body.
3 Ways to Improve Laptop Ergonomics
1. Use an External Monitor
Most people buy a laptop with portability as their main criterion, which means mean that the most people buy laptops with a screen display between 11- and 15-inches. This isn’t very large, and it can easily result in eyestrain when viewed over long hours. The quick solution to that dilemma is to buy an external monitor to use with your laptop or Ultrabook.
New 23-inch or 24-inch LCD displays don't cost all that much and you can keep using them through multiple rounds of laptop upgrades. Moreover, the substantial increase in onscreen real estate should help improve employee productivity, too; you can use them in conjunction with the laptop’s built-in display to create a multi-monitor setup.
2. Reposition your laptop
Repositioning your laptop lets you obtain an optimal angle for using its keyboard, as well as its display. Often overlooked, bad ergonomics with the keyboard can result in pain or other long-term injury. You can quickly reposition a laptop by propping it up on a laptop stand or riser, or by using a laptop dock accessory.
3. Use a separate keyboard and mouse
Rather than forcing yourself to use your laptop's built-in keyboard and trackpad why not invest in a separate keyboard and mouse to use at your workstation instead? This may seem frivolous until you consider that most workers probably spend more than a hundred hours each month on their laptops. And while you’re at it, go for a wireless keyboard and mouse to eliminate the hassle of wires.
I’ve used many wireless keyboards over the years and currently own the Logitech K760 Wireless Solar Keyboard. My all-time favorite mouse is the Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX, which I use both at my desk and when I'm on-the-go. I appreciate its Darkfield laser tracking, which works even on glass tables or other highly reflective surfaces.
The basic ergonomic tips I've outlined here will help you work on your laptop at the office more comfortably and more productively. Give them a try, or maybe you have a few ergonomic tricks of your own. Either way, I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.
Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.
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