How to set up an ergonomic workstation with a laptop

Laptops provide useful portability and convenience when dealing with a variable or hybrid working environment. However, spending extended amounts of time sitting at a laptop without taking ergonomics into account can lead to discomfort and even injury.

In this piece, we’ll look at why an ergonomic workspace is important and give some tips to help you achieve it when working with a laptop.

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Why is a well-constructed workspace important?

By reducing the ergonomic risk factors in your workspace, you are reducing the chances of painful musculoskeletal strains and conditions.

Ergonomics can also improve productivity levels. If a workspace is designed to allow for comfort, it becomes more efficient. Less painful work is proven to reduce frustration and fatigue, giving you and your employees the chance to do their best work.

What makes a workspace ergonomic?

An ergonomic workstation will allow you to maintain a neutral position, avoiding awkward postures unnecessary pressure on your joints. It also allows for greater comfort sitting in front of your laptop for the entire workday.

Laptops are limited by having the keyboard and screen connected, meaning that a choice must be made between ergonomic wrist posture and neck positioning.

When the screen is at the proper height, the keyboard is too high, causing the user to adopt poor hand and wrist posture. When wrist posture is prioritised, the screen is too low causing the user to strain their neck muscles.

Woman holding her wrist due to wrist pain

How to create the perfect ergonomic workspace with your laptop

Using a laptop on your lap feels obvious, but this can be one of the worst positions to work in. This position means slouching your back and bending at the neck, placing additional pressure on your spine.

The aim is to set your workstation up to relieve pressure on all parts of the body, such as the wrists, neck and back. Unfortunately, a laptop on its own makes this a near-impossible task, as mentioned before, a user must choose what is supported.

Whether using a standing desk or sitting, there are multiple fixes for this, such as using a pre-built workstation such as the Vision H. This may be used as a laptop stand by itself, or with extra monitors also with adjustable heights.

Using a prebuilt workstation is improved further with an external mouse and keyboard. Whatever your chosen setup, you should have your feet flat on the floor, your arms at 90° to the desk and your knees below your hips. This sitting position helps to prevent you from straining the muscles in the back of your neck and minimising eye strain. The Reach Plus makes adjusting screen height easy and makes the most of small spaces as it attaches to the desk rather than resting on it.

Laptop vs desktop

In the last 18 months, hybrid and homeworking arrangements have become hugely popular and look to be a permanent change for many companies.

The more customisable nature of a desktop setup makes perfecting the ergonomics far easier. The issue comes in the event of needing to change the workplace, as desktops are either fixed into place or require effort to deconstruct.

Despite the ergonomic issues, the sophistication of modern laptops has allowed the concept of Work From Anywhere (WFA) to develop. Laptops can now weigh less than 2kg, making transporting them near effortless. This has allowed coffee shops, libraries, and even cinemas to become temporary offices. A consequence of WFA is employees without designated WFH spaces can still have fully productive days.

Dos and don’ts



Find what’s comfortable for you

Change how you sit instead of changing your workspace

Rest your wrists

Strain your neck

Be flexible in sitting or standing

Sit too close to the screen

Use a laptop stand

Use external accessories

Frequently asked questions

How can you use your laptop as a desktop?

Use a stand to add an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to set up a workstation that is comfortable and ergonomic.

What does it mean to use a laptop ergonomically?

It means using it in a way that does not put a strain on your body or your eyes.

What is the correct way to sit at a laptop?

Your upper legs should be flat against the seat of the chair. Your lower legs should form a 90-degree angle at the knees. Your feet should be flat on the ground. Your back should be at between 100 and 135 degrees in relation to your legs.

Why is working on a laptop at home an ergonomic risk?

The main risks from the use of laptops are musculoskeletal disorders, such as back and neck pain, upper limb disorders or repetitive strain injury (RSI). These disorders may involve pain in the fingers, hands, arms, or shoulders.

How should you use a laptop while in bed?

It is not advised to work from your bed, as it’s difficult to set yourself up in a way that won’t risk injury. If it’s the only place available to work, try to follow the principles laid out in this article for the best chance of avoiding pain.

How can you reduce sore wrists from typing on a laptop?

Use an external keyboard and mouse that you connect to your laptop. Make sure your wrists are supported, and that you aren’t having to stretch to type.

How do you relieve neck pain from your laptop?

Your laptop should be raised to a position where the top of the monitor matches your line of sight. This can be done with products such as docking stations, laptop stands, or even using stacks of books if nothing else is available. You should be able to view the entire screen with a neutral neck, not having to bend or stoop.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where pressure builds up in the tendons that run through the wrist. It causes tingling, numbness, or weakness in the hands and arms.

We hope to have answered any questions you may have, but if you want to find out more, get in touch here.

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