How to Use a Laptop at an Ergonomic Standing Desk
Using an ergonomic standing desk that lets you stand while you work is a great way to improve your health on a number of fronts. But if you are using a laptop, you need to put in a few extra steps to get the most obvious benefits of ergonomic standing desks, because it’s basically impossible to maintain the proper ergonomics necessary to take the pressure off your back, shoulders, wrists, and neck using just your laptop, regardless of how incredible your standing desk is.
The problem is that laptops were not intended for the prolonged use that most people give their laptops. Many offices just use big laptops as a “desktop portable.” The monitor and keyboard on a laptop are too close. You need to separate them for a ergonomic standing desk to work. If they aren’t, you either spend your time tilting your head down uncomfortably or holding your hands up too high and creating tension in your upper back. This is because a laptop was designed to rest in your lap while you sit.
In dealing with this problem, the ergonomic goals are:
1. Get your keyboard to a high that lets your elbows hang naturally at your sides, bent at an angle slightly greater than 90 degrees, when your wrists are supported while resting on the keyboard; and
2. Raise your monitor to about even with your eye line so you don’t have to tilt your head at all to look directly at it, hopefully while it is between twelve and twenty-two inches away from your face.
So you have at least two basic options – raise your monitor or lower your keyboard. Assuming you raise your ergonomic standing desk to the right height to meet all the criteria in point one, and that you use a support pad so your wrists don’t bend awkwardly, you need to get your monitor higher. You can do this in one of two ways. The easiest option is to get an external keyboard that plugs into your laptop. Put that on the desk and then find a way to raise your laptop to the right height. A sturdy cardboard box will do, although there are also a number of pre-made products you can buy that look nice and perform this function. Of course, with this solution you have to connect an external mouse, but that is probably something you already have if you do a lot of work on your laptop.
The other option is to get an external monitor connected to your laptop and use that. In this case, you can continue using the keyboard – and touchpad mouse if you are a masochist – on your laptop. You just have to use the same techniques described above to elevate the external monitor to a health height.
With an ergonomic standing desk, you are half way to getting a healthier, more comfortable work station to use your computer. But if you are using a laptop, you have to figure out these extra details to actually create healthier ergonomic positioning.