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Best Ergonomic Laptop Setup Tips

Laptops have revolutionised the world of work. Making working from anywhere a reality, the laptop was essential when the world switched to remote work. But they are not ideal to use for long periods and they can wreak havoc on posture and back health. Our tips for an ergonomic laptop setup can be a game-changer for remote and office workers alike.

The Importance Of An Ergonomic Laptop Setup

Using a laptop correctly can save businesses and individuals in multiple ways. Preventing discomfort and reducing risk of injury is just the start. Cut down on physio costs and Workers' Comp claims while increasing productivity with an ergonomic laptop set up that supports healthy posture in the neck and back.

An injury-free neck and back translate into improved focus and productivity, as well as increased workplace satisfaction. Ultimately, a happy neck and back equals improved customer experiences and lower staff turnover, which is a significant money-saver for businesses.

The Disadvantages Of Laptop Design

1. Screen size

Laptop screens are often too small which results in eye strain. It also may cause you to slouch toward the screen to read resulting in neck and back pain.

2. The screen is too low if the keyboard position is correct

This causes strain on the neck and shoulders as you have to slouch down to see the screen, which can lead to shoulder pain and neck pain.

3. The keyboard position is incorrect if the screen is ideal

If the screen is at the right height to reduce strain on your neck and shoulders the keyboard will be too high and cause upper shoulder tension.

4. Touchpad or trackballs

These put a lot of strain on the wrist and forearm muscles due to the small repetitive movements. They also are often in the centre of the keyboard as opposed to the side, which would allow a neutral arm position.

5. Keyboard spacing

Often the keys of a laptop keyboard are close together, again placing strain on the wrist muscles

Tips To Create An Ergonomic Laptop Setup

Creating an ergonomic workspace starts with the correct laptop setup, which needn't be expensive or difficult to do. Our top tips for achieving the best ergonomic laptop setup will help you and your team work comfortably from anywhere.

Avoid placing your laptop on your lap

It’s no surprise that hunching over your lap can cause back and neck problems, so the first rule of an ergonomic laptop setup is to always use a desk or work surface at elbow height to ensure an ergonomic laptop position. It might have ‘lap’ in its name, but regularly resting your laptop on your legs creates an uncomfortable, restrictive posture. Sitting or standing at a desk or table while working keeps your back neutral and protects it from strain.

Switch sitting with standing

In today’s day and age, we spend hours sitting each day. So, it’s easy to become absorbed in your daily work. To give your body a much-needed break from sitting, you can alternate between sitting and standing while working from your laptop with the help of a sit-stand desk. Regularly standing during your workday can help relieve back compression and boost hip mobility, too.

Raise your laptop higher

One of the main concerns physiotherapists have with using a laptop is the height of the screen. When the keyboard is the right height for your wrists, the screen is too low for ideal neck support. But sometimes it’s inconvenient to plug in an external monitor or desktop computer, particularly if you’re working on the go. That’s where laptop stands come in. Investing in a laptop stand that can tilt and adjust means you can raise the screen height to mimic an ergonomic computer setup on the go, in any setting, for optimal neck posture. Browse our ergonomic laptop stands here. 

Choose a supportive chair

While no seating arrangement can instantly fix back pain, having the right kind of office chair can help prevent it by supporting your back and promoting a better posture. Ergonomic office chairs are designed to fit the s-shaped spinal curve and give you back support while you work. Click here for everything you need to know when buying an ergonomic office chair.

Investing in a good office chair is only worthwhile if you use it correctly. To get the most out of your ergonomic desk chair, sit with your back against the chair to avoid slouching, and move the armrests so your arms are flat with the surface of your desk and not at an uncomfortable angle.

You can also incorporate a footrest in your seating arrangement for added support.

Use an external keyboard and mouse

Plugging in a separate monitor means you can still use your laptop, but now the keyboard and trackpad can remain at a comfortable height for your wrists and arms while the external monitor is adjusted to the correct height for your neck while you work.

Your laptop is best paired with an ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse for long-term use. While laptop stands and external monitors can fix the issue of your screen being too low, your laptop’s inbuilt keyboard and trackpad are not made for long working periods. The flat, narrow profile of the laptop keyboard is great for convenience, but sitting with your wrists and arms placed in an unnatural position can increase the risk of repetitive strain injuries (RSI). Thankfully, you can plug in an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to transform your working area while still getting the most out of your laptop. Wireless mice make laptop ergonomic setup easy for on-the-go working.

Take regular breaks

Even if you have the best ergonomic equipment on the market, you’re not optimising it unless you take regular breaks from working. Nobody should sit at their desk for several hours without moving, especially if you’re slouched over a laptop.

To boost your circulation, strengthen your muscles and rest your eyes, take regular breaks from work. Go for a walk or take 10 minutes to stretch. You can even try mini workouts to get your blood pumping while you’re not sitting in front of your laptop. Not only do regular breaks work wonders for your posture and back health, but they also rejuvenate your brain and improve focus. 

The ideal laptop setup

The ideal ergonomic laptop setup uses a docking station with a separate keyboard, screen and mouse. This allows you to set yourself up in the most ideal ergonomic position using a laptop and monitor ergonomic setup. See our article on designing an ergonomic office space for more tips.

A freestanding screen puts less strain on your eyes while simultaneously keeping your head and neck strain-free in a neutral position. For a monitor to be ergonomic, the top of the screen must be eye-level.

A separate keyboard and mouse ensure that your keyboard can be the proper distance from you and that your wrist is supported in a neutral position while clicking away.

If you can’t use a separate screen, a monitor raiser like the Handy Raiser Adjustable Monitor Stand will keep your screen in the ideal position for good posture. In this set-up, you would still need a separate keyboard and mouse, but you can save on a second screen.

If you also can’t use this setup, an ergonomic laptop stand will keep your wrists ergonomically correct and the screen raised slightly. Laptop stands are as portable as laptops, making them the perfect ergonomic solution for hotdesking or travelling. Our Ergoprop laptop stands also allow better laptop functioning by allowing air circulation.

Designing An Ergonomic Workstation: How To Use A Laptop Ergonomically

Creating an ergonomically correct workstation requires several elements that address multiple core concerns. An ergonomic workstation needs to support your back, encourage good circulation, foster a neutral neck position, and support a good range of motion while keeping your wrists protected from RSIs. Follow these laptop ergonomics basic tips to create a workstation that is both functional and ergonomic.

  1. Keep the laptop directly in front of you at all times. Also, ensure your elbows are supported at a 90-degree angle by your desk or armrests.
  2. Use an ergonomic office chair that allows you to recline slightly backward and prevents you from slouching forwards.
  3. Tilt the laptop screen slightly backwards to reduce glare and keep your head and neck neutral.
  4. Ensure the screen is arm’s length away from your eyes.
  5. Get up and take breaks every 20-30 minutes.
  6. If you have no other option but to use the laptop on your lap, then place the laptop on your laptop bag or a cushion - NOT directly on your lap. If you use a laptop directly on your lap, it can’t cool down effectively and the heat it generates can cause an injury. Support your arms with pillows under the elbows to support the weight of your neck and shoulders.

Laptops do not make for a good ergonomic workstation setup. They are not even that ergonomically ideal on your lap. But that is not why we use them. With a little commitment and a few accessories, you can put together an ergonomic setup for laptops that equals that of a desktop.

How to Select the Right Desk

As you will have picked up by now, using the correct desk plays a huge part in laptop ergonomics. The ideal desk for an ergonomic laptop setup is height adjustable. If you can, a sit-stand desk is the best of the best because it allows you to keep moving while you work. If neither an adjustable desk nor a sit-stand desk are an option for you, opt for an office desk the height of your elbows when you are seated. This keeps your arms at a comfortable angle while you work and reduces some of the load on your neck and shoulders.

How to Select and Use the Right Ergonomic Office Chair

Even if you can’t find a good desk, an ergonomic chair is an office staple. Look for height-adjustable chairs with good lumbar support. The more customizable the chair is, the better because everyone is built differently and may need to tweak things like the armrests, backrest angle, and chair height.

When seated, you want to ensure that your back is flush against the backrest and that you have plenty of support, particularly for your lower back. Your armrests should be at the right height for your elbows to be at 90 degrees while you work.

How to Correctly Position Your Computer Monitor

The third and final important component of an ergonomic laptop setup is a correctly positioned computer monitor. Ensure that the top of your monitor is in line with your eyes. If this means using a laptop stand with a separate keyboard and mouse or using a separate screen, so be it. Having your monitor at this height is essential to minimise stress on your neck and shoulders and aid focus

In Conclusion: Is An Ergonomic Computer Setup Worth It?

Setting up your workstation correctly may require some investment in terms of ergonomic equipment, but it is always worthwhile. Minimising repetitive strain injuries enables you and your team to bring their all to work, cutting staff turnover and improving worker satisfaction. All this combined creates the perfect environment to nurture focus, improve performance, and ultimately cut costs while boosting revenue.

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