Are left-handers at a disadvantage at work?

Living as a lefty in a right-handed world has never been easy. While we may have progressed from being burnt on the stake, there's still the tricky issue of ergonomics.

Man working at a laptop, together with a tablet

Sunday 13 August is International Left-Hander's Day, which was first started by the UK-based Left-Hander's Club in 1992 to raise awareness of how difficult it can be living in a world designed for people with a different dominant hand.

In fact, a study by US psychology professor Stanley Coren found that left-handers live on average nine years less than right-handers due to a number of factors:

  • higher chance of birth or pregnancy complications
  • slower growth
  • greater vulnerability to diseases like epilepsy and diabetes
  • tendency towards destructive behaviours like alcoholism and criminality.

And that's just the start of it. If you're lucky enough to survive the trials and tribulations of left-handedness all the way to working age, it's likely you'll run into difficulties in the office. Professor Coren also listed 'increased health risks from environments designed for right-handers' as a factor for reduced life expectancy.

A pair of scissors

Machinery designed for right-handed use could be dangerous for a left-handed person, who will have to work extra hard to achieve the same level of precision with their right hands.

Almost all products - from scissors and spiral-bound notebooks, to computer keyboards and mice, are designed to fit the 90% of people in the world who are right-handed. This leaves left-handers to struggle through life with permanent black smudges on the side of their left hands, a deep loathing of tin openers and a real risk of getting tangled forever in a bank pen chain.

A notepad and pen

According to CV-Library (the UK's biggest jobs board), 1 in 5 lefties face real practical problems at work due to being left-handed. That's over 852,000 people. Other results from the survey found:

  • Most UK employers don't make a habit of asking new staff members if they're left-handed.
  • Only a quarter of businesses provide left-handers with specialist computer equipment.
  • 5% of the UK's working population are ambidextrous and would like the freedom to choose between left or right-handed equipment.

Lee Biggins, founder and Managing Director of CV-Library, said: “Businesses need to provide staff with the right tools to do the job."

A DSE assessment with one of our qualified assessors will help left-handed workers set their workstations up comfortably and safely.

Specialist products for left-handers

Ambidextrous mice and left-handed keyboards are brilliant for left-handed comfort.

Our Penguin Ambidextrous Vertical Mouse

As ergonomic product designers, we wanted to invent something that would not only to be more comfortable to use than a standard computer mouse, but that would also be entirely ambidextrous.

Why the Penguin mouse is ideal for left-handers

  • The wireless version can be easily switched from the right side of the desk to the left, so if a left-hander is hot-desking with a right-hander, it's no trouble to rearrange the workstation.
  • The vertical design isn't biased to either side of the hand. To encourage a more comfortable 'hand-shake' position, the function buttons are all on the front, so it doesn't matter which way you're gripping it.
  • You can easily re-programme the scroll wheel for left-handed use.