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Whitepaper: Is it possible to work comfortably on a tablet?

This whitepaper provides an introduction to healthy and smart working with the tablet. We tell you why a tablet is not actually made for long-term (business) use. We zoom in on the legislation and standards that exist around intensive tablet use. We also discuss the effects on people's health and performance. And finally, we offer you a handy decision aid for determining which tools best suit which type of tablet use. 
Whitepaper: Is it possible to work comfortably on a tablet?
Tablet as a tool
The tablet has outgrown the gadget phase. The business use of the tablet computer is now breaking through worldwide. More and more organizations see the benefits of equipping employees with the handy device. The result: the tablet or iPad is used much more intensively.

Many employees find the tablet useful not only to take to meetings or to read reports, but nowadays also type long e-mails or even entire reports on it. The issue: tablets are ergonomically not at all suitable for performing those kinds of elaborate tasks. But with the right aids you prevent physical overload that causes uncomfortable tablet use.
Why is tablet use not (always) healthy?
Business tablet use often involves more than watching videos and surfing the Internet. Activities such as answering e-mails and writing texts are rather comparable to what one is used to doing on a computer. And just as it applies to a laptop: working for a long time with a tablet is really only healthy and comfortable when using appropriate aids.

As the image on the right shows, laying a tablet flat on a table causes one to automatically bend over. This leads to additional strain on the neck and shoulders. A healthy working posture is only achieved when the screen is placed higher. (Prolonged) typing on a touchscreen also leads to an increase in muscle tension in the shoulder and neck; especially when the arms are lifted while typing or mousing on the tablet. In addition, the tactile and auditory feedback is barely noticeable when typing on a tablet. Using an external keyboard provides appropriate feedback and posture, increasing comfort and productivity.
What does European law say?
Health effects
Various studies have shown that the strain on the neck and shoulders is extra great when working with a tablet. There are three ways to reduce that extra pressure.
Position the tablet higher and at an angle to improve both neck posture and viewing angle. The recent study by Young et al. (2012) concludes that using a tablet leads to greater neck flexion, compared to using a laptop or desktop computer.

Go for a tilt angle of 45º. Display users  appear to have a clear preference for this angle, according to research by Albin & McLoone (2007). A wider angle is difficult when tapping the screen. At a smaller angle, it is less pleasant to read from the screen. Tilting the tablet also has a favorable effect on the neck posture because there is less neck reflection.

Use a separate keyboard and mouse (if possible) if the tablet is typing a lot. According to Gwanseob Shin and Xinhui Zhu (2011), typing on a touchscreen leads to a significant increase in the perceived discomfort in the shoulder, neck and fingers. In their study, they also discovered an increase in muscle tension in the shoulder and neck, especially when the arms are lifted while typing or moused on the tablet without a separate keyboard or mouse.
Performance Effects
The tablet is very suitable for going through information or surfing the Internet on the go. However, the handy device is less suitable for typing many or longer texts. Typing on a tablet is much slower than typing on a regular keyboard (Chaparro 2010). The users in Chaparro's study did not yet have much experience typing on a tablet, so they might have been faster if they were more experienced. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that you can type faster with a tablet than with a conventional keyboard. The reason for this is that getting tactile and auditory feedback while typing is of great importance. A tablet offers neither type of feedback while typing. And without clear feedback, you simply make more mistakes while typing (Feuerstein, 1997; Yoshitake, 1995).

What tablet users should also take into account is that working with a tablet is not suitable for applications or files that require a large screen. Consider, for example, large or extensive excel sheets.
Decision aid
Every employee uses a tablet for different purposes. Some only view information on the device, while others type entire reports and reports on it. With the selection aid below you will find the tools that are most suitable for a specific employee profile or for your own personal tablet use.
View our tablet holder matrix here
Conclusion
The tablet is actually intended for short-term reading, watching videos or surfing the internet. Now that the tablet is also becoming more and more common in the business world, it is also being used more intensively. A tablet without tools, however, does not meet the legislation and standards regarding screen work and a computer workplace.

When the tablet is only used for short-term reading and little typing and mice, a tablet holder is sufficient. In order to work longer healthy and comfortably with a tablet, at least a tablet holder, a separate keyboard and an ergonomic mouse are required. Then you can still work in a healthy way on the road or between meetings, without having to take a laptop with you.

The use of a tablet is not recommended for daily activities longer than 2  hours. A laptop with ergonomic aids is then more suitable.
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