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The type of desk that you or your employees use at work is probably not too high up on your list of workplace priorities. For much of modern work history, the office desk fell into the category of things we spent a lot of time using and little time contemplating. But U.S. sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950, and with that rise growing concerns about the health risks of too much sitting. Researchers have found that our stationary, office desk-work lifestyle increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. (There’s also a clear relationship between physical work environment and employee productivity.)
Result: More interest in the types of desks that are best for employees.
Whether you’re thinking about moving offices and need new furniture, or you’re just doing an overhaul of your existing office space, this overview will help you think through the best options for your business needs — and make your employees happier with the outcome.
Table of Contents
How to choose an office desk:
When choosing desks for your office, you should consider some of the following factors that could dictate the type of desk you buy.
Daily work demands:
- Desktop computers generally require wiring holes to manage messy cables.
- Frequent paperwork suggests a need for extra surface/shelving areas and filing drawers or cabinets.
- Frequent collaboration argues for L-shaped desks, which support teamwork.
- Opt for desks with plenty of leg clearance. Better still, opt for desks that can be raised or lowered. If that’s too expensive, make sure chairs can be raised and lowered.
- Accessorize wisely, e.g., think about footrests for people who need them (for medical or comfort reasons) and make sure to provide wrist pads for hard-edged desks.
Office design and workflow:
- U-shaped and L-shaped desks are ideal for those who need a lot of storage space and/or surface area.
- Writing desks, or table-like workstations, have clean lines that work well in open-plan offices. They generally offer minimal storage, which makes them great for offices with flexible seating and less ideal for those who have a lot of paperwork.
Here are some alternative desk options, including…
…sit-stand desks: Inevitably, some folks are concerned about standing all day. For this reason, adjustable sit-stand desk types offer both options.
…treadmill desks: Although employees won’t be able to train for a marathon while answering emails, these desks encourage people to stay active at the office and certainly curtail the detrimental effects of sedentary working.
…hot desking: The average utilization of offices in 2018 was only 40%, making hot desking an increasingly popular workplace trend. Rather than assigned individual workspaces, employees share clusters of desks and armchairs with coworkers. It is a way to save on office space and increase collaboration, but it can make some employees feel unsettled at work.
Bottom Line: Before deciding how to outfit your office, survey your employees to learn about their preferences. It’s an easy way to show that you care about their opinion — and helps create the type of positive office culture that leads to successful organizations. Providing a variety of desk types allows employees to be the most productive by choosing their ideal workspace.