Happy new year everyone! Hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas break and are coming back to work with your tank topped up. Seeing your workspace with fresh eyes after the holidays, now is a great opportunity to ‘sharpen your axe’ and check your set up is working well for you, before you dive straight into your busy work routine.
Here I am going to home in on the laptop, and how these can be used safely as a main screen or as a second screen, as I so often see them being used in ways that can cause discomfort or injury.
And surely being safe and well at work is a new year’s resolution worth making!?
Laptops - What’s the issue?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my laptop too. So light, portable and storable...
However, it is important to remember that a laptop’s priority is portability... not our comfort or physical safety:
-Compromise of posture is inevitable.
-Shoulders hunch up to reach the keyboard.
-Head cranes forward to read the low and small screen.
-Touch pad creates excessive tenion in the hand, wrist and forearm.
We can get away with this in the short term, but it is likely to cause issues in the long term.
If it’s your only screen
1) Get a seperate mouse and keyboard.
2) Raise your laptop up (note: only if you have done point 1). You can do this free and easily with a shoebox or stack of books, or you can invest in a laptop raiser.
Some products we often recommend are:
For a great height range:
ONIC Height Adjustable Aluminum Laptop Riser - Silver - Height Range 225-380mm
$89 from PB Tech
Ultimate portability for frequent flyers:
Lift aluminium laptop stand currently $56 on sale at Ergo Style.
Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard - $119 from Ergostyle
If its your 2nd screen at your desk:
Move it up and close: Raise the laptop up on a stand, and have it as close as possible to your main screen, (ideally touching and at a similar height). Keep your big screen directly infront and use this as much as possible, with the laptop to the side as an occasional reference screen.
Use your zoom. The text displayed on the laptop is likely to be much smaller, which result in you frequently craning your neck to view it. Zoom in on your laptop screen and notice the positive impact on your ability to sit back in your chair.
If it’s your 3rd screen (Phew! you must be surrounded by screens!)
Is a 3rd screen needed? Three screens are a lot and can be quite overwhelming... Not to mention the amount of neck twsiting this results in! Firstly, ask “do I really need three screens?” If not – great! Just use the laptop as a plug in and get more space and comfort working from two screens. If yes, see below.
Low and central. Consider positioning the laptop low down, directly on the desk, below the two main screens, (the top of those screens should be at your eye height), and there is usually room for a laptop to sit underneath, depending on screen sizes and your height. This will allow you to glance down, (moving mainly your eyes), to view the laptop screen, and limit the amount of twisting left/right.
Use the big screens whenever possible. Use the laptop as a monitoring/ occasional reference screen and bring information up to the bigger screens whenever you are working actively on something.
So, I hope that has been helpful and that you can keep loving you laptop without it hurting you!
For more tips on getting yourself set up right at work, see our previous blog on setting your office chair up correctly: https://www.workspaceiq.co.nz/post/how-do-i-set-my-office-chair-up-correctly
Lois Hill is an Occupational Therapist working for WorkSpace IQ with 11 years’ clinical experience and specialist in vocational rehabilitation and pain management. She is passionate about empowering clients with the means to maximise their function, health and wellbeing.