For better or worse, most of us have learned to work from anywhere – even before the onset of the pandemic forced us to do so. Whether in a trendy co-working space, at home, or in a quiet coffee shop, the mobile office remains part of the work routine for many. This flexibility offers both rewards and challenges. Unshackling oneself from the same desk or cubicle (and the accompanying commute) is liberating. Yet, without the right equipment, this newfound freedom may hamper productivity and even reduce physical well-being.
A capable laptop computer is vital for many remote workers. If not issued to us by our employer, we face myriad choices when “building” the laptop that best meets our work needs. One of those choices we must make is whether to stick with using the touchpad now ubiquitous on laptop computers or to go with an external mouse instead. Many users tend to rely on the touchpad when working away from their desks. Doing so gives them one less thing to carry, and it saves a little space. But forgoing the external mouse may do more harm than good with regard to completing work tasks and our overall comfort while doing so. A variety of studies have been conducted to measure subject experience and performance when using a laptop touchpad versus an external mouse for everyday computer tasks. The results of many of those tests point to the external mouse as superior to the touchpad for several reasons.
Based on research results, working with an external mouse increases user productivity compared to a touchpad when performing the same tasks. Using the external mouse allowed many users to be more precise in task performance, and, in some cases, they were nearly 50% more productive versus using a touchpad. That’s an impressive efficiency increase.
If gaining work efficiency isn’t enough reason to ditch the touchpad in favor of an external mouse, reducing pain and fatigue probably is. Usage studies have shown that working with a computer touchpad causes greater fatigue and more physical discomfort than an external mouse. The fatigue and pain both result from significant increases in the neck, shoulder, and forearm muscle activity that occur when using the touchpad rather than an external mouse.
Shortening the time needed for many work tasks and reducing physical discomfort are pretty good reasons for adding an external mouse to our laptop bag.