2 Step Ergonomic Upgrade for Laptop Users

As employers read more statistics about the benefits of offering employees the option of working remotely, more and more of us work on laptops, either in the office or out. However, because its use results in bad posture, laptops are not meant to be worked on for long hours. 

Laptops = Terrible Posture

Here are the main points of basic desk ergonomics: 

  1. The top of the monitor is a few inches below eye level. 

  2. The monitor is at arm's length away. 

  3. The elbows are at 90-degree angles. In English, the elbows are at the same level as the wrists.

  4. If sitting, the hips and the knees are at the same level with both feet on the floor.

*There are more rules in basic ergo - if you would like to know more, download a handy PDF here, or check out these blog posts

Now, with laptops, do you see how, no matter how you sit or stand, at least rule 1, 2, or 3 are not met? 

If you have the top of the laptop monitor a few inches below eye level, the keyboard will be too high and your wrists will be above your elbows. This violates rule 2 and most likely 3 and causes pressure on your wrists, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist pain symptoms. With your monitor so close to your face, you might experience eye strain and headaches.

If you have the keyboard low enough so that your wrists and elbows are in the same plane, then you'll be dipping your head down to look at your monitor. This violates rule 1 and can lead to neck tension and pain. 

So, how can we fix this?

Follow these 2 simple steps below: 

  1. Buy an extra computer keyboard and mouse. Mine are simple wireless ones (I hate the clutter of more wires) from Best Buy. You can buy both for just $20.

    • Side note: If you mouse a lot, you might have noticed right shoulder pain. Find a keyboard that doesn't have the number pad. That way you're not reaching your arm way out to the right to use the mouse. 

  2. Raise your laptop by stacking books below it until the top of the monitor is just 1-2 inches below eye level. (Ha, ma, books aren't just for reading after all!). I actually use empty plastic containers from Target

Ergonomics Outside of the Home/Office

Ok, so what if you don't just work from the couch at home (PS. the dining table is better than the couch!)? What if you work at coffee shops? Well, just bring the extra books with ya, and school everyone who comes by your table saying what a genius you are or what a great setup you've got there and the like. 

And speaking of coffee shops, I shop around for coffee shop corners to find ones with the best ambience, yes (and the coffee, hello, Jessica...), but equally important, if not more so, is whether the tables and chairs are ergonomically friendly for me or not. 

Now I'm tiny at 5'1' and that's generously rounding up, so finding a good set up for me is super important/difficult. I don't like working with numb and tingly legs that dangle off the floor. Nor do I like tables that are so high that I hunch my shoulders up to my ears just to type. 

So it's up to you - at home, you can adjust your workspace however you see fit, and when you're working elsewhere, it's your choice whether to find the best coffee shop for you (make sure you're not procrastinating like I did for a while though!), or take your stacks of books and wireless keyboard/mouse with you, or both, or none at all. 

Here's an example...

Below is my super modified standing laptop station at home.  Please don't mind the mess of my gently lived-in home. 

Send me a picture of your workstation!

Email me a picture of you sitting/standing in your workstation, and I'll send you tips to modify your specific workstation.