Read the 15 ergonomic laptop tips and guidelines to help prevent injury and increase productivity. As a result of Covid-19, millions of employees around the world are now working from home. Many of these employees have never done this before. These employees received little to no notice and most people were sent home with only a laptop in hand. This is alarming because statistically, prior to Covid-19, only 7% of U.S. workers had the option to regularly work at home. Therefore, most people at home do not have desks, chairs, external keyboards or any knowledge of how to effectively work at home with a laptop.
Using Your Laptop Properly at Home is Very Important
Many experts suggest that COVID-19 could lead to a permanent shift with employees working from home. As a result, it is important that employees learn important ergonomic laptop tips on how to properly work at home to prevent discomfort, injury and Workers Comp claims.
According to Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021. Surveys before Covid-19 found that 80% of employees want to work from home and a 1/3 of these people would take a pay cut in exchange. Also, a typical employee can save about $11,000 a year for every person who works remotely half of the time.
Why Is Working on a Laptop at Home an Ergonomic Risk?
Laptops were not designed to be the primary computer for all-day use. Laptops were intended for mobility for meetings and travel. That is to say that when used at work they are typically paired with docking stations that enable large monitors to project the data. Now in contrast, millions of people are working at home from a laptop which leads to significant health risks with prolonged laptop use.
Health Impact of Neck Flexion from Laptop Use: Working from a laptop computer can cause back, neck and shoulder pains, headache, eyestrain, and many types of “overuse injuries” of the arms and hands. The good news is, that you can use your laptop while working at home in a safe and effective fashion.
Watch this Excellent Video of Laptop Tips Showing How You Can Retrofit Your Laptop for Comfort and to Prevent Injury
Top 15 Risks of Working on a Laptop and Helpful Tips to Solve Them
Knowledge is power. Not only will these laptop tips and guidelines provide the helpful information you need to retrofit your workspace to be comfortable, but you will be more productive. Each laptop guideline includes information of the type of ergonomic equipment you could purchase. It also includes information on how to help solve the problem with inexpensive and cheap ergonomic retrofit solutions you can use around your home without spending a penny.
RISK #1: Working on a laptop and looking down at the monitor creates neck flexion, which can lead to pain and discomfort.
Ergonomic Laptop Tip: Raise your laptop higher (to eye level) so your neck is not bent down and use an external keyboard and mouse to reduce reach.
Options to consider:
1. First you can make your own laptop riser solution at home by using books, crates, phone books or safes.
2. Secondly, ensure that your eyes are looking at the top of the screen and the screen should be no more than an arm’s length away.
3. Lastly, if you plan to work at home on a permanent basis, invest in an external monitor that provides the adjust ability you need. A good cost effective home monitor is ESI Eppa single monitor arm. A separate monitor is better for your eyes and helps productivity. However, if you don’t have one, raising your laptop monitor will do wonders for prevent discomfort of your neck, shoulders and back.
RISK #2: Typing on the laptop keyboard for prolonged periods of time leads to wrist and hand discomfort and pain.
Ergonomic Tip for Laptop Use While Working at Home: Invest in a wireless mouse and keyboard. Typing on a laptop creates tremendous strain on your hands and wrists. If you travel, there are compact portable keyboard mouse kits that are light weight and easy to carry.
Options to consider:
- Invest in both a Bluetooth mouse such as the Kensington Profit vertical mouse
- In addition, purchase a Bluetooth keyboard such as the Logitech K360 wireless keyboard.
- To clarify, wireless keyboards and mice provide flexibility versus devices that have cords. They are very easy to set up without having to plug anything into your laptop. Also if you have a height adjustable converter, this also makes it easier to move up and down.
RISK #3: Do not lean wrists against the desk edge as this creates contact stress on your wrists and can lead to many types of wrist and hand injuries.
Ergonomic Laptop Tip: Make sure that your arms are at a 90 degree angle. This may require you to raise your chair, or lower your desk. Use a wrist pad at the keyboard when you are not typing to rest your hands on.
Options to consider:
- There are some keyboards that have a built in wrist rest like the Kensington Wireless keyboard. It is important to note, that a wrist rest alone will not prevent contact stress if your arms are not at a 90 degree angle. Be sure that you have the correct posture and your wrists are not pressing against hard surfaces.
- In addition, it is important to note that keyboard wrist pads should only be used to rest your wrists on while you are not typing.
RISK #4: Working on a laptop while laying on the sofa is not recommended. This creates neck flexion and awkward postures can lead to neck, back and shoulder pain.
Ergonomic Laptop Tip: Avoid working on the sofa at all. Instead, create a specific working area for you to work at each day.
Options to Consider:
1. Purchase a height adjustable desk and program the presets to have the correct sitting and standing height. Investing in a desk workstation at home is a good idea regardless of how long COVID-19 lasts. Most people could use a desk in there home regardless to pay bills, send e-mails, write letters, do projects at night or work on the weekends. The good news is a height adjustable desk for a family can be used for multiple people of different sizes.
2. A cheap ergonomic home tip, would be to retrofit what you have at home to create a specific working area. With creativity, you can convert your kitchen table, a small display table, a fold-up table or even your sofa table.
RISK #5: Working on your bed creates neck flexion, twisting and awkward postures that can quickly lead to discomfort.
EXAMPLE OF WHAT NOT TO DO:
Ergonomic Laptop Tips for Remote Workers: Do not work in bed at home.
Options to Consider When Having a Desk in Your Bedroom:
1. First of all, don’t work with blue light electronics in your bedroom. This affects sleep. On the other hand, if you do have a desk in your bedroom, make sure that you invest in a keyboard that you can turn off and/or turn down the blue light so it doesn’t affect your sleep.
For example, the Sleep Well Laptop kit includes a keyboard that you can turn off the light, or change the blue light to a different color. Blue light has been shown to disrupt sleep. If you must work in your bedroom, you want a keyboard you can turn the lights off. Also when you are working before bedtime, you can switch the lights to white or red which helps reduce the blue light emitted that disrupts sleep. Read more on the affect of blue light on sleep
2. Alternatively, you can get creative by adding a small desk in your bedroom. Make sure that the height you place it at will enable you to sit at the desk with your arms at a 90 degree angle and both feet on the floor.
ERGO TIPS FOR PLACING A LAPTOP ON A WALL MOUNTED DESK
1. First, make sure that you are using a chair with good back support.
2. Secondly, make sure that your arms to be at a 90-degree angle and both feet on the floor. This is important if you are hanging a wall-mounted desk or sitting in various options.
3. As a subsequent idea, height adjustable desks enable you to not only stand, but ensure that you can have the proper hand working height. 12 floating desks that look great and take up minimal space
RISK #6: Working at a bar stool without back support.
Ergonomic Laptop Tips When Working from a Kitchen: Do not work at a bar stool if there is not back support.
Options to Consider:
1. First ergonomic laptop guideline is to not work from any bar stool that doesn’t have back support. Working from a kitchen table and chair with back support would be a better option.
2. Secondly, if you have bar stools with a back, add an extra cushion and support under your feet so both feet can be firmly planted.
3. Certainly make sure that both feet are firmly planted on the ground, and use a foot rest or a box. It is important to note that you don’t want to have dangling feet.
RISK #7: Working on the floor while typing on a laptop creates neck deviation, and puts your hands and wrists in an awkward postures while typing. This will quickly lead to discomfort.
Ergonomic Laptop Tip: Have a dedicated desk and chair. Never work on the floor, as it is easy for injury and pain to arise.
RISK #8: Working in a space that isn’t dedicated for work, while trying to pet your animal.
Ergonomic Laptop Tips For Working at Home With Pets: Be mindful of how your pets are affecting your posture. It is very easy to get in awkward postures when you love an animal, and are multi-tasking trying to do work. A dedicated office space is ideal.
Options to Consider:
1. Create a place for your pet to sit with you by your desk without sacrificing your posture.
2. Also consider placing the dog bed on top of something to elevate it. Then when you pet your dog you won’t have to lean down each time.
RISK #9: Working while holding your kids
Ergonomic Laptop Tips For Working at Home With Kids: Be mindful of the postures that you are working with when taking care of your children. I know this is easier said than done.
Options to Consider:
1. Create a place for your baby or kids to be close by your desk without sacrificing your posture. When you take breaks, you can hold your child. When you attempt to do both at the same time, your body can get into compromising positions.
2. If you have a baby, make sure there are many stimulating things for the baby to do and your baby can see you.
4. Baby slings or harnesses can keep your baby warm and close to you while you work, while you can make sure your body is positioned properly.
5. Use a cordless, wireless headset while talking on the phone enabling hands free positioning and mobility.
6. Work when the baby or children are taking their naps. Read more: 33 tips working at home with a newborn
7. If you have young kids who make noise, consider investing in noise canceling headphones like the Sony WH-1000x series.
RISK #10: Working with Laptop on Your Lap
Ergonomic Laptop Tips and Guidelines: It is not recommended to work on your laptop positioned on your lap for prolonged periods of time. Be sure to place your laptop on a riser and always work with an external keyboard and mouse.
RISK #11: Looking Down at Documents or Books While Typing
Ergonomic Laptop Home Office Tips When Working with Documents on a Laptop: Raise your book and/or papers at an angle so you can easily glance down instead of bending your neck to view. Invest in document holders or be creative with things around your house that can elevate your paperwork.
Options to Consider:
- The BakkerElkbuizen laptop kit includes a laptop riser that has a built in document holder. This enables both the laptop monitor and your paperwork to be raised so your neck is not moving up and down.
- Purchase a document holder that is separate for the laptop riser.
- Cookbook stands can be very helpful as a document holder.
RISK #12: Perching, and leaning forward in your chair when working on a laptop is typical of driven busy people, but it is not healthy for your body.
Ergonomic Laptop Tips of How to Sit in a Chair: Make sure to use the back support of your chair.
RISK #13: While working on a laptop or a full-size monitor, slouching creates tremendous pressure and strain on your body.
Ergonomic Guidelines of Proper Posture with a Laptop: Use a supportive chair is important that has back support. Keep both feet on the floor with arms at a 90 degree angle.
RISK #14: Leaning forward in chair with an Ostrich neck creates tremendous strain on your neck and shoulders.
Ergonomic Guidelines for Sitting in a Chair with a Laptop: A comfortable ergonomic chair is important. You want a chair with good lower and upper back support. If you find yourself leaning forward consistently, often that is a sign that your chair isn’t right for you or it is not adjusted properly.
Options to Consider:
- During COVID-19, we don’t know how long employees will be working at home. However, most people have work to do in their lives for paying bills, for kids to do homework, doing projects, working projects at home on the weekend, or sending e-mails to friends.Investing in an ergonomic chair for home use is a very good investment. If you only use the chair 1-2 days a week, then you will not need as much support versus if you are spending 40-50 hours a week working in a chair.If you are working at home long term then you likely will want a chair with more ergonomic controls such as the Goodfithome SY Home. If you want a quality ergonomic chair but don’t plan to work full time at home, then you can spend less money and get a chair that fits your needs such as the Goodfithome SN or the Essentials Ergo Mesh chair. Another budget friendly chair option for home use is an upholstered chair from 9to5 called the @176 ergonomic chair.
- If you are looking for a temporary chair solution to work at home, you can take industrial Velcro and attach your sofa cushions to make kitchen chairs more comfortable during COVID-19.
RISK #15: Feet Tucked Behind While Working Creates Awkward Postures and Can Lead to Discomfort
Ergonomic Guidelines for Feet Placement while Working on a Laptop: With your desk at home, make sure that your arms are at 90 degrees and both feet are firmly planted on the ground. If you need to add a foot stand or a box, this is an option.
Additional Ergonomic Laptop Resources:
Ergonomic tips for laptop users from Berkeley
Be safe, happy, and healthy. We hope these ergonomic laptop guidelines and suggestions are helpful.
If you are interested in an ergonomic assessment in San Diego, Orange County or Los Angeles, please call 619-546-0872. We would love to help your team feel great, be productive and prevent the risk of injury.
Request a Call Back for Consultation and Ergonomic Assessment Services (619-546-0872)
About the author
Annie Berzanski is proud and honored to be the CEO of Pacific Ergonomics, a full-service San Diego ergonomic company with consulting and ergonomic product solutions. Her team helps employees and employers thrive. Annie leads a customer service obsessed team with certified ergonomists and Account managers who help employees increase productivity and feel great working. At the same time, Pacific Ergonomics helps companies decrease and prevent costly Workers Comp claims from work-related Musculoskeletal Skeletal Disorders (MSDs.) Annie is a certified office and industrial ergonomist. She is passionate about helping her customers create customized solutions that have a bottom line impact, make employees healthier and decrease risk of injury.