If You’re Only Working on a Laptop, Your Productivity is Suffering

Ronald Monte | July 23, 2018

Smartphones and laptops have become so prevalent that you are actually in a minority if you spend several hours a day on a desktop computer and use a standard computer screen. In some ways, this is amazing. We now have unlimited access to knowledge from any location, and we can communicate with people all over the world. But there are definitely some drawbacks to this amazingness, and it inevitably brings up this question. Is staring at the laptop or mobile screen affecting work productivity?

What Is the Problem?

Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and spine health professionals note significant problems that are more associated with the use of the laptop and any of the other mobile screens compared to what they see with a standard desktop screen. These issues run the gamut of health problems that lead to severe back pain and issues with poor eyesight.

Poor Posture and Back Issues

When employees use a laptop they tend to hunch over to view or work on the screen, and after an hour or two, they might start to roll their head, hoping to loosen the knots forming in their neck. They shut your eyes, and rub them and then settle back into staring, hunched over, just inches away from their laptop or mobile screen. Is it any wonder that mobile screens are negatively affecting work productivity?

The end result as far as health goes is back pain. Today, back pain specialists are seeing a lot of people who complain about chronic back pain that ranges from the neck to the shoulders, upper back and even spinal column problems. And many of these issues stem from what is colloquially now called Hunched Over Laptop Syndrome (HOLS).  Add to this is the fact that this chronic condition leads to other health issues, resulting in employees taking time off, leaving the office early, lack of concentration, medical insurance claims and many more factors that affect overall work performance. People who suffer from poor posture caused by working at a laptop, suffer from chronic fatigue, excruciating pain, tingling in the fingers and arms and limited concentration. All of these factor into one thing for businesses, POOR PRODUCTIVITY.

What Causes the Pain in Shoulder and Neck?

Health professionals say that the muscles in the neck are designed to hold the head in an upright position and that this is the most comfortable position for everyone. However, it is not usually the case, and most people become accustomed to being hunched over. So much so, that when they are given the opportunity to straighten up to view their screens, they may require some time to readapt. The problem is that viewing information on the screen of a laptop requires one to bend over and forward which results in the neck becoming burdened and strained. It is this that causes severe pain in the neck and upper back. And while in most cases the pain is temporary, it can result in enough pain to prevent workers from concentrating and from performing optimally at their tasks.  In some cases, this position, especially if it is long-lasting can even cause serious back injury.

Eye Problems are Another Issue with Laptop Screen Viewing

Ophthalmologists, optometrists and other eye professionals are also noting a link between myopia (nearsightedness) and visual activities that take place at a distance of about 15 inches from the eye (such as when working on a laptop.) Desktop monitors sit further from the eye, at about 20 inches, which is less damaging.

The reality is this, your eyes are not evolutionarily equipped to stare at the light that screens emit. But sitting up closer to this light, and hunching over to view what’s on the screen, no matter how big the laptop screen, causes temporary eye damage, and the level of permanent damage a person might be experiencing is not entirely known yet. We won’t really know the extent of the damage until the people who use computer screens to a larger extent, begin to age and develop eye conditions resulting from eye strain caused by laptop screens.

For now, the only thing that experts believe to make a real difference is to improve posture while working on a computer by keeping the screen at a further distance from the eyes (about 20 inches) and find a posture that allows for less stress and tension while working.  Unfortunately, this means using a good quality, large external monitor that can attach to the laptop, or if that is unavailable, forgoing the laptop and instead using a desktop computer. It is this that will improve functionality and improve task performance.

By and large, the computer monitor needs to be:

Directly in front of the employee and facing him. It does not need to be angled to the left or right, as this keeps the employee from having to twist his neck too much. L&D trainers need to encourage workers to use scroll bars as well. This will ensure that what the employee is viewing is in the center of the external monitor rather than at the top or bottom of the screen.

  • Center the monitor. To improve productivity, workers also need to center the monitor so the user can see the screen at an even eye height. This prevents them from twisting the neck or body when looking at the screen.
  • Use the right height. Users need to be able to see the screen without tilting the head up or down. The employee’s eyes should be in line with a point on the screen that is about 2 to 3 inches below the monitor casing.
  • Viewing distance. The screen needs to be at a comfortable horizontal distance for viewing. This is about an arm’s length away. On a laptop screen, this is virtually an impossible viewing distance.

What Can We Do to Improve Performance When Working on A Laptop?

We understand that laptops are important to enterprise operations as they allow for mobility and independence. However, worker productivity can be improved in the workplace by allowing employees access to an adjustable workstation with an external screen.

This type of workstation allows the employee to adjust the desk height to either his sitting or standing position and view content at an even eye height and distance.

The Cemtrex SmartDesk is an answer to setting up new innovative workspace areas.

The SmartDesk gives you everything you need to get the job done, all within arm’s reach: 72” of touchscreen, an adjustable sit/stand desk and – of course – the PC. The motorized sit/stand desk keeps you plugging away all day long without aches and pains. This allows for more efficient typing, viewing and offers an overall improved work performance.

Cemtrex SmartDesk