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laptop holding positions
Johnny Simon for Quartz
CLAMSHELL CLICHES

What your laptop-holding position says about you

They walk among us in just about every office: People with their laptops open, bound for conference rooms and common areas, many keeping their devices ajar to avoid losing those precious few seconds of computer wake-up time.

While we cloak our phones in shock-proof plastic and their screens with tempered-glass shields, laptops rarely get similar protection. Considering these pieces of hardware are some of the most expensive items we work with, it’s a little shocking to see how cavalier we can be toward our one essential work device.

But since when has safety outweighed looking cool?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been observing Quartzians in their natural habitat and have tried to make sense of their odd office rituals in porting their laptops from one meeting to the next. Here are some of our findings.

The clutch

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: holding closed laptop by your side

Pros: simple, stylish, classic

Cons: boring, risk-averse, basic

The yearbook

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: holding closed laptop against your chest with one hand

Pros: offers dual protection for both laptop and the body’s core mass

Cons: seems a bit defensive. What are you hiding?

The waiter

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: holding a closed laptop on your forearm like a tray of drinks

Pros: keeps one arm free for coffee, high-fiving

Cons: built to spill

The insurance claim

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: holding open laptop with one hand outstretched in front of you

Pros: a sense of excitement

Cons: a sense of impending doom

The teddy bear

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: holding closed laptop clasped against your chest with both hands

Pros: optimal safety

Cons: significant risk of separation anxiety

The placeholder

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: wedging a finger into a mostly closed laptop to keep it from going to sleep

Pros: congrats, you’ve saved the few seconds that it would take for your laptop to wake up!

Cons: possible severed finger

The children’s toy

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: holding open laptop dangling by your side from one edge

Pros: exudes the studied, stylish carelessness known in Italian as sprezzatura

Cons: bad for those with sweaty palms

The librarian

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: holding open laptop across your chest like an open book

Pros: good for keeping your page

Cons: bad for keeping your battery life

The pocket protector

Johnny Simon for Quartz

Position: closed laptop sticky-taped to body

Pros: ready for everything

Cons: may require a boxcutter to get back to work

The Jordan

Position: spinning closed laptop on one finger

Pros: looks cool

Cons: dirty looks from the IT desks

The water carrier

Position: balancing closed laptop on head

Pros: leaves hands free to carry other objects

Cons: possible cultural appropriation

The vacationer

Position: no laptop at all, holding piña colada instead

Pros: everything

Cons: none

Update: Added “The Kanye,” a close relative of “The Children’s Toy,” to our broader taxonomy