Furniture profile: desks and workstations

What does an office desk need to do?

As technology continues to evolve in the workplace, desks remain a staple item and part of every office employee’s day-to-day working experience. Yes, a desk acts as a surface upon which to support the equipment, paperwork and stationery of your staff, but you should give it as much consideration as any other piece of office furniture.

The right desk should help employees accomplish their work tasks in a comfortable and productive way.

Your decisions about what type of office desks to provide should include the following:

Type of work

Computer-based

This calls for a desk that’s specifically designed for computer use. Serious consideration must be given to the placement of computer and telephone hardware and the management of cabling.

Reliant on paperwork

Despite their best intentions to remain paperless, some industries and job roles continue to generate printed material. It’s always healthy to challenge the use of paper and the method of storing printed material. Off-desk storage solutions can be versatile and add features to a space.

Ergonomics and space

  • A standard-height desk should provide enough space above the legs — 73cm to 76cm above the floor is usually sufficient.
  • There should be at least 106cm of space behind each desk, with a further 91cm minimum between the desk and another piece of office furniture.
  • Computer keyboards need to be placed at a comfortable height for users, therefore desks should ensure flexibility with either adjustable legs or the addition of a keyboard platform.
  • Desktop equipment and stationery should be within comfortable reach of the occupier, without overloading the surface of the desk.
  • Wrist pads might be needed to cushion sharp desk edges which may cause discomfort when people are typing.

Effective office design is crucial when it comes to maximising space around workstations. Achieving the optimum configuration for office furniture is far from simple and requires consideration in a number of areas.

Working with an experienced partner will ensure your workspace layout prioritises the comfort and wellbeing of your employees. Find out more in our guide to office design and layout, or by contacting the team at Dale.

Materials

  • Laminate — a popular choice since it’s affordable and durable. Basically, a plastic finish, available in an array of colours and wood grain appearances, is applied to a wood core.
  • Wood or veneer — a more expensive choice and not usually specified for heavy use.
  • Metal — a hardwearing and cost-effective choice, suitable for contemporary office designs.

Flexibility

Sit-stand desks have become increasingly popular in recent years as companies start to recognise the adverse health impacts of sitting down for hours at a time. By using stand-up desks, employees are afforded the opportunity to give their backs a break from the sedentary posture and to move around more freely. Many users claim they also feel more productive and alert when standing.

You can read more about sit-stand working here or at getbritainstanding.org.


Desks and tables for different uses

Break-out areas

Break-out and social areas of the office bring the opportunity to be more creative and flexible in terms of table design. For example, you might want to opt for circular, picnic bench-style, higher tables with stools, or even a combination of all three.

Meeting rooms

Desks or tables used for meetings tend to be more formal and functional in design, as they must, for example, accommodate power sockets and large numbers of people.

Building in flexibility

As traditional office working gives way to a far more flexible, wellbeing-focused approach, employers are investing in design and furniture solutions that enable the workspace to be far more agile. Giving employees options around where and how they work is likely to result in greater staff satisfaction, better health and wellbeing outcomes and therefore improved productivity.

At Dale, we work closely with you to gain a thorough understanding of your current workspace and your future business needs in order to determine which furniture solutions will be most suitable. As independent office furniture consultants, we’re not tied to one particular manufacturer and help you explore a range of different options according to your budget.

Related content

Is open plan the best plan? Employees are less productive with manager in the room, research suggests

Guide to office design and layout

How to furnish your office to enable activity-based working

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