How To Setup A Laptop For Good Ergonomics?
Laptops are a great way to get the job done while you’re on-the-go. They were clearly designed for portability. However, the problem is we’re using them more and more often as our primary computer.
The problem with that is that they’re not designed with ergonomics in mind in most cases. People are spending hours and hours working on a laptop instead of a desktop.
The main design flaw for a laptop is that the keyboard is connected to the monitor.
I know that sounds odd but it’s true. The simple fact that the keyboard and monitor are connected forces us to have to work in a slouched position.
This type of posture can cause tension headaches, neck pain, back pain, and other types of repetitive strain issues when we work this way.
In this article, I will show you how to set up the perfect laptop ergonomic setup. I will also show you how to do this on a budget.
How To Setup Your Office Workspace
The first thing you want to do is understand what you can and what you can’t change readily. A lot of times the desk is the item that is most difficult to change or most expensive to change.
Although varying height desks do exist and can be very handy they will often come with a hefty price tag. So I’m going to assume in this article that we’re going to keep the desk height as is.
That means that we are going to need to have a chair that’s adjustable or at least finds the exact right height for the chair we’re going to be using the most often.
How To Sit With Good Posture And Ergonomics?
I want to make sure that the chair is at the appropriate height that if my feet are flat on the ground, I can achieve 90° at my knees, 90 degrees on my hips as well as 90° at my elbows.
This may also mean that I need to adjust my armrest so that my elbows and arms are supported well at that 90-degree position and at the appropriate height to be at the right height for the desk.
While seated in my chair I want to make sure that there’s enough space between the back of my knees and the seat rest usually I’m looking for about an inch to 2 inches of space there to avoid compression.
If you are short you will have to make sure that you have proper support underneath your feet which can be achieved with the use of a foot riser. However, a couple of books might do the trick if I’m on a budget.
How To Setup My Monitor For Good Ergonomics?
The next thing I want to make sure is that the top of my monitor is in line with my eyes. This is because most of our visual field is straight ahead and slightly below.
Try this now. if you’re looking directly at an object that is at your eye height, chances are you will also be able to easily see items that are slightly below that line compared to things that are slightly above that line.
In order to achieve this with a laptop, you will more than likely have to raise it up off of the desk. This can be achieved by stacking the number of books to raise the laptop high enough so that the top of the visual screen is in line with your eye line.
This may not be the most visually appealing thing to do and you may also run the risk of your computer slipping off of a pile of books.
That’s why I do really recommend using a laptop stand if possible in this case scenario. They can be purchased at pretty reasonable prices from Amazon and they do make a world of a difference.
Laptop Stand Affiliate Link:
I’m speaking from experience because this is something that I recently had to do in order to achieve the perfect laptop set up in my home office. The added advantage to the laptop stand is that I could use the space under the laptop for storage or using items that I’m not often using at the time. I tend to place things like my notebook or phone or pens in the space under my laptop which clears more room on my desk for the work that I’m doing.
How To Setup My Desk For Good Ergonomics?
Next, the most important thing to make sure that I’m aware of when setting up my laptop workspace for perfect ergonomics is that I need to manage my primary zone.
The primary zone is measured by the distance between my elbow and the tip of my fingertips when my elbows are at my side. This means that the items I used the most often are within my primary zone and do not require me to have to reach or extend my elbows away from my body to use more often.
This may sound like a small thing to consider however the further away from your body your elbows have to be for any given time the more strain that puts on your neck on your back.
Over the course of a few minutes perhaps it’s not that big of a deal. However, if we’re looking at hours or a full day of work this will certainly make a great difference for you.
Try to keep your arm extended away from your body far outstretched as far as you can and time how long you can hold it there. You will notice that your arm fatigues quickly. If you were to hold one pound away from your body for 1 minute completely outstretched you are likely going to feel the burn after a short while. Now if you were to do the same thing with your elbows bent and kept close to your body holding that same one pound would be much easier and you could do it for a much longer time.
This highlights the importance of keeping the items you use the most often inside of your primary zone so that you minimize how often you have to reach outside and put additional strain on your body.
Realistically the work we do may change throughout the day so you might need to evaluate every 20 to 30 minutes or so to see what items or what tasks you’re going to be doing the most during that period. For example, if I expect to be doing a lot of typing I’m going to make sure my keyboard is inside of my primary zone. If I am going to be doing a lot of charting or note-taking I’m going to make sure that my papers and documents are close by and I may choose at this time to move my keyboard outside of my primary zone. We’ll call that the secondary zone.
Something that is often neglected is mousing. We do more and more scrolling and will often, as a rule, keep the mouse off to the side of the keyboard. Where this becomes a problem is where mousing is a dominant part of the job. For example, if I’m scrolling through multiple pictures or a document on my computer and my arm is mostly using the mouse it will be really important for me to avoid keeping the mouse off to the side of the keyboard. In this instance, it may make a lot more sense to move the keyboard off centre and allow the most to be closer to the centre of my workspace.
In order to make the laptop setup work properly if it’s on a riser, we’re going to need to add separate external keyboard and mouse. I prefer to make these wireless keyboards and wireless mice because aesthetically it’s much more pleasing to me. It’s also easier to not have to manage cables or wires when I end up moving the keyboard and mouse to a different location on my tasks and switching to something different on my desk.
Why are office ergonomics important?
Now if I follow these rules and keep my feet planted firmly on the ground and I abide by the 90 90 90 rule I have the monitor in line with my eyes and I keep all of my most used items inside of the primary zone I will be much more ergonomically efficient. This will mean that I will be more effective at my work, more productive, and most importantly reduce the risk of any pain or injury.
If you have any questions about office ergonomics as it pertains to using a laptop please feel free to leave a comment below and I will help you as best as I can.