STOP WORKING FROM YOUR LAPTOP

STOP WORKING FROM YOUR LAPTOP

STOP WORKING FROM YOUR LAPTOP

There’s no doubt laptops are here to stay. Having a laptop allows us to be agile, efficient, and constantly on-the-move. You instantly have the ability to work from anywhere without being stuck at a desk. Laptops are great, aren’t they?

Laptops are really great when used simply as a laptop – that is, when you need to work from it for a few minutes, at a coffee shop in the morning, or bring it with you during travel. But… if you’re spending a significant time of the day working , then it’s generally better to work at a desk with a desktop-style setup

We’ve compiled a list of ways to improve your health by identifying simple changes to implement in your work setup that will create a comfortable and better workstation.


  1. GET A KEYBOARD AND A MOUSE

First things first – working from a laptop 24/7 can really hurt your body. You may not realize how bad it is to work from your laptop, either because you are young and strong or because by the end of the day, your back pain is not that bad. 

But if you’re a person who works remotely with a computer for extended periods, you should start thinking about addressing the long-term implications working on a laptop can create. 

The position of wrists and hands is often overlooked, but it is just as important as the position of your back and head. Studies have shown that most remote workers experience pain in one of the essential parts of their body.

A word of caution: never use your laptop’s keyboard or trackpad when using a laptop riser. Regardless of the style of the riser, this is terrible for your wrists, arms, and shoulders. If you’re using a wedge-style riser that increases the angle of the keyboard, typing in this position can cause carpal tunnel syndrome as well as other types of injuries. And if you’re using a riser that lifts the entire laptop off the desk, you’ll need to suspend your arms in midair to type on it, which can damage your arms and shoulders.

By investing in a laptop riser, a separate keyboard, and a mouse, you can create a more ergonomic setup that will make it easier for you to stay productive throughout the day without strain.

Some people prefer typing on an ergonomic keyboard. An ergonomic keyboard often has the two halves of the keyboard separated, which allows your arms to rest in straight line with your body. It’s not for everyone, but upgrading your workspace with an ergonomic keyboard can reduce your wrist strain.

The placement of the keyboard is essential as well. If the keyboard is too low and your elbows are bent at significantly more than a 90 degree angle, you will find yourself compensating by bending your wrists so your hands are level with the keyboard. More commonly, your keyboard will be placed too high, causing you to lift your elbows outward to enable your hands to reach the keyboard. This raises your shoulders and elevates your arms. You can’t imagine how bad it is for your hands and wrists to be 6, 8, or 10 hours in the wrong position – you need to be comfortable. The keyboard should be directly in front of you, at a height that allows your forearms and wrists to be parallel to the ground with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle.


  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO USE AS YOUR MAIN MONITOR?
  • The screen is one of the most important tools for any remote worker. For that reason, we encourage you to decide if you want to use your laptop as your main monitor or if you prefer a larger external monitor.

    To be small and light –ideal to be carried around–, laptops are made with a 13’’ or 15’’ display. That’s fine for working on the go, but if you’re sitting down for extended periods of time, the size of your laptop’s screen will limit your productivity and can cause eye fatigue.

    That’s why we recommend investing in a large monitor, one of at least 27’’ or 32’’. Your screen is the window into your work – the bigger it is, the easier it is to manage multiple windows or fit more information on the screen. So, for the sake of productivity,  get a monitor of sufficient size – a bigger viewing area will make things easier. 

    Our standard recommendation is to exclusively use the large monitor and tuck your laptop away in a vertical laptop stand or dock while it powers your whole setup. We find this improves productivity and focus while reducing clutter.

    However, you may want to use two monitors, or to use your laptop’s screen (on a laptop riser, of course) as a second display. We understand that this can be beneficial for some types of work (video editing or software development), but we often find that the second display is just a source of distraction (email or Slack). If it’s not distracting and you really need a second monitor, then you can put your laptop in a laptop riser next to you. But the real question is: do you need a second monitor, or is it distracting you?

    Whatever you decide, what we truly know is that if you start using your laptop with an external display, your productivity will dramatically increase.


    1. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET A LARGE MONITOR, GET A LAPTOP RISER

    If you decide that you don’t want an external display, then the desk accessory worth investing in is a laptop riser. If your screen is lower than eye-level, you’re forced to move your head down, leading to tight muscles in the neck and shoulders. Make sure to put the screen at the right height – the top of the screen should be approximately eye-level. This height will ensure you keep your neck in a neutral position. For most people, raising the laptop six inches off the table is good enough.

    Apart from raising your laptop, you want the screen to be at a distance where you can easily read all the text with your head and body in an upright posture, while your back is supported on the chair. If the screen is too far away, your posture suffers because you lean forward to compensate for the distance and your eyes strain to read the small text. If the screen is too close, your eyes have to work harder to focus on the screen and it can cause headaches.

    A simple trick to know the right distance is to position the screen one arm length away from you – that way, you make sure you placed the screen at the right distance. You may need to move it a bit closer if your laptop has a small screen.

    So, remember: the first thing that you need to do is raise the screen, and at a distance where your eyes do not get tired to look at it and utilize an external  keyboard and mouse – with these improvements, your workspace will start to look like your ideal ergonomic office set up.



    ALL IN ALL…

    All in all, we agree that laptops are ideal to use on the go, and it makes sense for most people to buy a laptop rather than a desktop due to the flexibility it provides. But to spend any extended amount of time working from your laptop is bad for your productivity and even worse for your body, At a miminum, you need a laptop riser, a separate keyboard, and a mouse. But we really suggest getting a large external monitor to optimize your productivity and physical health

    We believe the methods we suggest in this article will allow you to reach your full potential and do your best work.

    Designing your workspace with a human factors approach that suits your natural body movements avoids causing pain and long-term injury while giving you the productivity you need to be successful.

    August 14, 2022 — Lindsey Sullivan
    How it started

    How it started

    Hi, I’m Simcha. I started HumanCentric because I desperately wanted a place where I could do work that matters.


    The only problem was that I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. (Or what this company was going to do, for that matter.) But I had collected enough experiences along the way to know, in general, what I was looking for.


    Let me explain:


    I started out my career as a musician. While I was never the greatest at practicing my scales, the feeling of playing together with a group of musicians was the most amazing experience I ever had. When musicians play together, there’s a sense of trust between them - a shared obligation - that everyone will carry their own weight to make it happen, and that we’re all dependent on each other. And that sense of obligation unlocks the talent that each individual has inside of them. It’s like magic.


    When the lack of practicing my scales started to catch up with me, I became a recording engineer - first in music, and then in film and TV. I knew that I wanted to be a recording engineer from the first time I walked into a studio. If you’ve never been in a great studio, it’s quite an experience. It’s an environment that’s designed to put you in a creative and focused state of mind, a perfect balance of interior design, technology, and comfort.


    When I started doing freelance sound design and left New York City, I created a recording studio in my home with the goal of recreating that vibe in my own space. I built my own desk out of a giant sheet of plywood so I would have “space to think”. And I loved it.


    For a number of reasons (a story for another time), life’s twists and turns ended up bringing me out of the music world and into the world of business. Despite not really having a clue what business was (and not having any credentials that would make me a candidate for any reasonable positions), I somehow ended up landing a job at a major global consulting firm. Don’t ask.


    While I was initially excited about the possibility of working with a small team to develop innovative solutions to challenging business problems, it didn’t quite pan out that way. Maybe it would have felt better if I had never experienced playing together with an amazing jazz trio, but I knew what great collaboration and teamwork really felt like.


    And my work environment was a far cry from my studio. I was given a 13-inch laptop and directed to a small desk in the corner. And then to the basement “office” (closet?) where we were stationed at our client site. Working on PowerPoints and spreadsheets for 10-12 hours per day over that tiny laptop was a far cry from my home studio setup. (And resulted in years of physical therapy to attempt to undo the neck, back, shoulder, and wrist strain - but that’s another story.)


    But, beyond all else, the biggest challenge for me: It felt like I was doing work that didn’t need to be done in the first place. I was traveling halfway across the country to sit in a different office - just to have the same conference calls and send the same emails as I would at home. I was “streamlining a process” that didn’t need to be done in the first place.


    So I tried to find somewhere else that would be different. During that process, I ended up setting out on my own to do my own independent consulting. I worked less hours, didn’t travel, and got more done than I ever did before. I did the deep work in my home office (modeled after my previous studio) and just went out to meet the clients when necessary. Clients were happier too - they paid for the value that they needed, nothing more.


    But what I really wanted to do was to create a company that would help other people solve the same problem I had - give them a way to be fully engaged at work.


    First, HumanCentric was a software startup that helped talented people discover companies that they would love to work for (and to help those companies discover those people too). But after that didn’t work out as planned, it was back to the drawing board.


    Around that time, a good friend of mine was upgrading his own desk setup and unsuccessfully tried to mount his computer monitor on a monitor arm, discovering that not all monitors have the standard “VESA pattern” of screw holes on the back. When he suggested to me that I should design a product that would help people unmount otherwise unmountable computer monitors, I flatly refused. I was looking for meaning, not brackets. But he convinced me to try it.


    Fast forward a few months, turns out he was onto something - I had hired someone to design the product and had it manufactured at a local factory near my home in Chicago. I remember receiving the order and packing it myself - putting the bracket, the screws, and the manual all in the box and shipping it out. I remember the feeling that it felt amazingly… necessary. There was no question about whether what I was doing was providing value to the customer. The customer needed the bracket: he sent me the money and I sent him exactly what he needed - nothing more and nothing less. This was the type of “meaningful” work that I had always been looking for - being able to do nothing more than is necessary to provide them with the value they need.


    After a few years of creating all types of mounts and brackets for various devices, I started to notice a trend - all of our successful products were centered around the desk. And I found myself helping friends and acquaintances improve their desk setup to make it more ergonomic, productive, and organized. Working from home, I found ways that I could make myself more focused, healthier (read: in less pain), and more productive throughout the day, and I wanted to share that with others. What if we could start focusing on helping people improve their workspace?


    But that was 2018. Focusing on the home office wasn’t really a popular thing yet, so people were skeptical. We started designing desk accessories to see how people would react, and it went quite well - tens of thousands of customers bought our vertical laptop stand. But I saw the stand as much more than that - a vertical laptop stand transitions a person from working on their laptop all day to using a much more ergonomic setup with an external monitor. Through one small product we were able to massively change someone’s work environment.


    After success with the laptop stand, we started working on our complete workspace collection - a group of products that can help create a workspace that you love to work in.


    Then COVID hit, everyone was suddenly thinking about home offices. While COVID was far from good news for the world, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time for the coming of age of the home office. We shut down our own office and everyone started to work from home. To our surprise, we didn’t miss it. We actually enjoyed the new freedom and the ability to have even more focus in our workday together with more personal flexibility.


    We realize that not everyone can work from home. But for the people who can, the office shutdowns of COVID forced people to realize that it was possible. And we think that the shift is even bigger - it’s a shift in the way that businesses view their employees. We’ve now experienced that people can be productive even if you’re not watching them, even if they're not sitting in a company chair in the company office. But on an even deeper level, we’ve learned that they want to be productive. People want to do good work.


    But now you can’t waste people’s time in meetings and creating metric decks that no one needs and keep them engaged with ping pong or casual Fridays or nerf guns. And you can’t tell them that they can’t have a nicer chair, or a desk by the window, or take their dog for a walk in the middle of the afternoon. Businesses need to keep people engaged for real and give them a work environment that supports their creativity and independence.


    So, at HumanCentric, I think I finally found a way to do work that matters. For our team, we try to respect people’s creativity and independence by eliminating any set working hours and doing away with Slack (so you can never tell who’s actually working) and then giving them the opportunity to do their best work by structuring the outcomes that they need to hit and allowing them the freedom to find the best way to do it. (And so many more small details that deserve their own post.)


    And for our customers, we’re able to help people create a personal workspace that supports their productivity and physical and mental well-being throughout the day. And we’re able to support other businesses who also want to give their employees the freedom and opportunity that they deserve. And for me, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a team that makes me feel like a musician again, each of us depending on each other to create something amazing together.


    Oh, and I finally get to work in my great home studio. I mean office. And I get to share my passion for creating a space that’s the perfect balance of interior design, technology, and comfort with other professionals who care deeply about doing work that matters.


    And it’s a lot of fun. Thanks for reading.

    July 13, 2022 — Simcha Kanter
    Home Office: How to Create the Perfect Office Desk Setup

    Home Office: How to Create the Perfect Office Desk Setup

    You can have the best room in your house, the quietest place with the best vibes, but if you don't have a proper desk setup, you'll see your efforts to improve productivity wasted.

    October 25, 2021 — The Branded