this thing's incredible

This Grandma-Approved TV Tray Makes for a Cheap yet Effective Lap Desk

Photo: ISSY SAMPSON

Last month, after my office was sent to work from home, I ran into back-pain-causing problems right away. Despite growing up thinking that a job I could do lying on a duvet was my dream career, it turned out that in practice, it’s actually really hard. Issues include my overheating laptop burning my legs or sliding off my legging-clad lap as I furiously type on deadline (I’m not wearing jeans to work at home, I’m not a monster!) and then making that ominous whirring sound that happens when it’s too hot and about to shut down, taking all your unsaved work with it. For the first week, I tried everything: sitting on the sofa and balancing my Mac on the arm (too risky), a “stand-up desk” (that’s just standing at the kitchen counter, meaning you’re always eating), and sort of clamping it between my knees while sitting on the bed (just uncomfortable). It was only when I tried my weirdest arrangement (laptop on a bread board, on a pillow, on my lap) that I realised the answer was right in front of me. Or, in front of grandmas everywhere: the nanna lap tray. You know: a plastic tray, attached to a bean bag, so your granny can eat her tea in front of Emmerdale.

It keeps the laptop level and steady, the computer doesn’t overheat, and it’s actually comfortable. I went on Amazon and panic-bought the first one I saw, a plain-ish “marble effect” tray with a 4.6-out-of-five rating that I could get delivered the next day — but if you want a classy one that isn’t covered in floral print, John Lewis has a minimal, Scandi-style tray for £60.

Of course, when I waved my new “desk” down the camera at a team catch-up meeting the following week, everyone mocked me. But since then, seven out of my 14-strong team have secretly contacted me to admit they’ve done the same thing. Now every time I speak to one workmate in particular, it makes me really happy to know he’s writing edgy music reviews with his laptop balanced on a pink, checked tray with the slogan “home sweet home” written across the top of it, borrowed from his actual gran.

Some other Strategist-approved laptop trays

This lap desk from AmazonBasics has a built-in handle and a padded underside, as well as a two storage compartments, for pens and other accessories (or snacks).

£33

A slightly more expensive, and streamlined, bamboo option.

John Lewis’s simple, sleek option features ergonomic handles, and Velcro for the detachable cushion.

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A Grandma-Approved TV Tray Is a Cheap yet Effective Lap Desk