In the past, the use of laptop computers was reserved for selected,
special people in the corporate world, like executives and travelling
sales managers. These large and expensive machines were carried around
by ‘road warriors’ who completed their business duties from hotel rooms
after a day of meetings.
As portable technology has become faster, lighter and cheaper, laptops
have migrated into small businesses, university lecture halls and even
our homes. Indeed, if your new laptop is faster than your old computer
and can be placed wherever you need it in your home, office, or any
other location, then why do you need a traditional ‘desktop’ computer?
Most businesses now don’t provide with you with a desktop computer at
your office desk if your role warrants having a laptop.
The main downside of this is the increasing number of repetitive strain
injury cases. Quite simply, the laptop computer was never designed for
long periods of use (especially not a full 8 hour or even 12 hour
working day). The main ergonomic design flaw of the screen being
attached to the keyboard just does not work in harmony with the optimal
positioning of our eyes, head, fingers and wrists. So, the positioning
of our laptop ends up being a compromise on both counts – with the
keyboard close enough for us to type on, but the screen tilted back so
we can read it. Our bodies still end up in a compromised position, with
hands navigating a smaller key layout and our necks bent down on an
angle, throwing the weight of our heads forward.
If you can’t live without your laptop, here are our tips to help it be
nicer to your body:
regular breaks. ‘Micro breaks’ involve looking away from your screen
often to something much further away, to let your eyes refocus and
rest. Physical movement is important too, including regularly letting
your arms drop or even getting up and walking away from your laptop.
a separate keyboard and mouse. Laptops have a plug to let them
accommodate a full-sized keyboard and mouse, so take advantage of these
better ergonomically designed ‘input devices’ if you are going to be
using your laptop for hours.
your laptop so the screen is at the correct height, or invest in a
separate monitor. If you sit back in your chair with a slight recline
and hold your right arm out horizontally, your middle finger should
almost touch the middle of the screen.
for heat build-up if the laptop is going to be on your lap for a
prolonged period of time. Consider investing in a special pad or tray
designed to reduce the heat problem.
a quality bag or backpack. If you travel frequently, perhaps a ‘luggage
trolley’ type bag with wheels would be a better option, to help prevent
shoulder strain. Consider the weight factor when buying a new laptop
too, including the weight of any associated laptops parts you may have
to carry with you.
Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooter about how to stop your laptop
being a pain in the neck, wrists, arms, back and shoulders!