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How to Create an Ergonomic Laptop Station

Thursday, August 06, 2009
By Anne Kramer

Laptops offer tremendous versatility in the workplace. Their portability means that virtually any location can become a temporary office. But because laptops are so compact, they have one caveat: laptops are not designed with ergonomics in mind. Since the screen and keyboard are attached, components cannot be adjusted to fit the individual user. Furthermore, laptop input devices—keyboards and touch pads—discourage proper typing posture and place extra strain on the body. With a few simple steps, however, laptop users can create ergonomic laptop stations anywhere they go.

Creating a specialized workstation

If the laptop will serve as the primary computer at a traditional, stationary workstation, the best option is a docking station. The laptop plugs into the docking station, which is also connected to a standard monitor and input devices. The workstation can then be ergonomically tailored to the user, since these components are all fully adjustable and interchangeable. 

  • A monitor riser will elevate the monitor to the proper viewing height. A monitor that tilts and swivels provides further ergonomic benefit.
  • The standard keyboard can be replaced with an ergonomic keyboard. These are available in many styles and promote healthy typing posture.
  • A tracking ball or foot switch can take the place of the regular mouse. These alternative input devices reduce stress on the hands from clicking and scrolling a traditional mouse.
  • The benefit of the docking station is that it completely eliminates the ergonomic challenges inherent to a laptop’s design. These measures should be taken with any workstation, not just with laptop-based workstations.

Laptop Ergonomics without a Desk

Because people often use laptops in other settings, like on the couch or in bed, a full docking station may not be a global solution to laptop ergonomics. In these settings, provisional ergonomic measures will increase the safety and usability of laptops. 

  • A laptop holder elevates the screen to the proper viewing height. Available in several styles, laptop holders elevate the screen, preventing unnecessary tilting of the head.
  • Laptops feature ports where input devices can be plugged in. Users can take advantage of these ports by plugging in an ergonomic keyboard. Unlike compact laptop keyboards, ergonomic keyboards encourage proper typing posture and reduce stress on the fingers, hands, and wrists.
  • An alternative input device can also be plugged into a laptop’s port. Laptop navigation features are often located in convenient, rather than ergonomically sound positions. Replacing them with an ergonomic device, like an ergonomic mouse, a track ball, or a foot switch, minimizes repetitive stress injuries (RSI).
  • A lap desk easily holds the attached mouse and keyboard, meaning that ergonomic input devices can be used anywhere.
  • Specialized mobile desks are also available for laptop users. Many options, like the Laptop Scooter, are fully adjustable for both sitting and standing.

Laptop users can maximize the benefits of laptops by keeping ergonomics in mind. By pairing a laptop’s portability with the injury protection of ergonomic accessories, laptop users will maintain their health and increase productivity.




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