Choosing a high-quality desk is important when setting up your home office. Equally important, however, is finding the right place for it. Depending on your job, you may spend eight or more hours sitting at your desk in a typical workday. If it’s placed in the wrong area, it may cause discomfort or even a loss of productivity.
Access to Power Outlets
If you intend to use a computer at your desk – which most office workers do – you’ll need to place it near a power outlet. Except for laptops, computers must be plugged into a wall outlet to operate. Power cords, of course, can only reach so far. If there’s not a power outlet nearby, you won’t be able to use your computer from that area.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t run power cords across your home office. What’s wrong with running power cords from one side of your home office to the opposite side? Aside from being an eyesore, it creates a safety hazard. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one in four of all nonfatal work-related injuries involve “slips, trips, and falls.”
When ran across your home office, power cords from computers, printers, fax machines, and other devices may cause you to trip and fall. You may accidentally catch your foot on an exposed power cord, causing you to fall and injure yourself. For a safe workspace, you need to place your desk near an outlet where you can conceal the power cords.
Distance to Door
For a large home office, avoid placing your desk far away from the door. You’ll probably be entering and exiting your home office multiples times per day. Whether you want to grab a snack or take a break, you’ll have to walk your desk to the door. If your home office is large, you’ll naturally spend more time walking back and forth to your desk.
Of course, you shouldn’t place your desk so close that it interferes with the door’s functionality. The door may not open all the way if your desk is too close to it. With a partially obstructed door, your home office will look and feel crammed. To prevent this, create enough space between your desk and the door so that you can fully open and close it.
If your home office is small, you don’t need to worry about the distance from your desk to the door. A short distance between the desk and door may only save you a few steps. On the other hand, if your home office is large, placing your desk near the door will reduce the amount of unnecessary walking. Just remember to give the door ample space so that you can open and close it completely.
Consider a Corner
If you have an L-shaped desk, consider placing it in the corner of your home office. L-shaped desks are designed specifically for corners. Unlike straight desks, they don’t consist of a single, rectangular-shaped furnishing unit. L-shaped desks receive their namesake from their L shape. They are similar to straight desks but with a smaller secondary furnishing unit attached perpendicular to the side.
Most L-shaped desks are made of two separate components. They have the main desk surface that’s shaped like a straight desk, and they have a secondary desk surface on the side. The secondary desk surface is affixed perpendicular to the main desk surface, thus creating the shape of the letter L.
While you can place an L-shaped desk center against a wall, you’ll get the greatest utility from a corner placement. It will essentially contour to the shape of the two walls. The main section of an L-shaped desk will sit flush against one wall, whereas the smaller side section will sit flush against the adjacent wall. Straight desks can only sit flush against a single wall. You can’t place a straight desk against two walls joined at a corner. Only L-shaped desks support this convenient corner-based placement.
L-shaped desks offer many benefits when used in a home office, some of which include the following:
- Conserves space when placed in a corner
- Additional storage solutions such as drawers and built-in file cabinets
- Larger desk surface (typically about one-third more than a straight desk)
- Separate desk surface that you can access by turning to your side
- Increased structural stability
- Supports more photos and decorations than straight desks
- Increased work productivity
- Available in a variety of materials and styles
Beware of a Middle-of-the-Room Placement
Some at-home office workers use a middle-of-the-room placement for their desks. In other words, they place their desks in the very middle of their home office rather than up against a wall. A middle-of-the-room placement such as this can work, but it often causes problems regarding ergonomics.
First and foremost, there’s the issue of power cords with a middle-of-the-room placement. When placed against a wall, all power cords and data cables will be concealed. You can run the power cords through the back of your desk and directly into a nearby wall outlet. A middle-of-the-room placement means you’ll have to run cables across your home office, which creates a safety hazard.
Placing your desk in the middle of your home office may also limit the amount of space for an office chair. Desks require space for a chair. They may have an opening in the middle where you can place your legs and feet, but you’ll still need plenty of room in front of the desk for an office chair. As a general rule, you should create at least 2 to 3 feet of clearance for your office chair.
If you place your desk in the middle of your home office, you may not have enough space to use an office chair comfortably. The chair may technically fit, but you may struggle to pull it far enough to sit comfortably in front of your desk. The front of the desk may be too close to a wall to create the appropriate clearance for your office chair.
There’s the issue of disrupting your home office’s typical walking paths when using a middle-of-the-room placement as well. Like all indoor rooms and spaces, home offices have walking paths. These are the paths that you typically take when entering, exiting, and moving around your home office. Most walking paths go through the middle of the respective room – and home offices are no exception. Placing your desk in the middle of your home office creates an obstruction. Rather than walking straight through the center of your home office, you’ll have to zig-zag your way around the desk.
Check the Flooring
Consider the flooring used in your home office when choosing a location for your desks. While most home offices have a single type of flooring, some of them have two or more types of flooring. If your home office has two different types of flooring, you’ll have to choose an appropriate area for your desk.
The casters on an office chair may damage hardwood floors. Most casters are not designed for use on hardwood floors. You can roll your office chair around on hardwood floors, but doing so may cause scratches or dents. With that said, some casters can accommodate hardwood floors without damaging them, but most office chairs aren’t made with them. These casters are sold separately. You’ll have to buy them and then install them on your office chair.
Carpet flooring generally offers a better all-around surface for your desk and office chair. Unlike hardwood and laminate flooring, carpet is immune to scratches and dents. And you can also still roll your office around on carpet flooring by investing in a mat. Chair mats are flat and hard sheets of plastic that are designed for office chairs. Using a chair mat on the carpet in front of your desk creates a hard surface on which you can roll your office chair.
Place Up Against a Window
Whether you have an L-shaped desk or a straight desk, you may want to place it up against a window. Walls with windows are a prime location for nearly all office desks. With a window placement, you’ll reap the benefits of a more relaxing workspace.
You won’t always be able to go for a walk outside when working. If your desk is up against a window, though, it will create a similar sensation. You can see what’s going on outside your home while soaking up the sunlight in the process. Not only will this create a more enjoyable and relaxing working environment. With your desk up against a window, the constant sun exposure you’ll receive can bring other benefits.
A study conducted by researchers at Cornell University found a correlation between office workers’ health and their level of exposure to natural light. Researchers concluded that office workers were 84% less likely to suffer from headaches and blurred vision when regularly exposed to natural light.
Other reports have found that exposure to natural light increases productivity. Office workers who place their desks near an outside-facing window are more productive than their counterparts who don’t work near a window. It’s well-known that sun exposure is good for your health. It allows your body to produce vitamin D, which is used for a myriad of metabolic processes. At the same time, sun exposure reduces stress levels. These effects may be responsible for the sun’s ability to increase productivity. To see for yourself, you’ll need to place your desk up against a window where you can soak up the sun’s rays.
Avoid placing your desk in a dim area with poor lighting. If you place your desk up against a window, you can take advantage of sunlight. Sunlight will reduce the need for artificial lighting by naturally illuminating your desk and the surrounding space. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on sunlight for illumination.
If you work during the early morning or late-night hours, the sun may not be down. Even during the daytime, there’s no guarantee that the sun will be out. Some days are bright are sunny, whereas others are dark and cloudy. As a result, you’ll need artificial lighting to illuminate your desk. Artificial lighting ensures that you are always able to work.
Your home office probably has an overhead fixture that provides most or all of its illumination. You don’t have to place your desk directly underneath the overhead fixture, but you should put it in an area where it receives adequate illumination.
If your desk is still poorly illuminated, you may need to install a lamp. A small desk lamp can provide extra illumination focused on your desk. Alternatively, you can install a freestanding lamp on the side of your desk. Freestanding lamps consume more space, but they produce more light than table lamps.
Measure Before Moving
Regardless of where you plan to place your desk, get measurements before moving it. High-quality desks are somewhat heavy, so they can be challenging to move. If you move your desk without getting measurements, it may not fit. Therefore, you’ll have to move again while trying to find the right location.
Taking measurements allows you to see whether your desk will fit before moving it. Start by identifying a location for your desk. Next, take measurements of your desk. You’ll need to get the length, depth, and height of your desk. You can then compare these measurements to those of the location where you’d like to place your desk. If the location is too small, choose a different area of your home office to place your desk.
Some desks have a hutch. A hutch is essentially a tall set of cabinets or shelves that rises from the top of a desk’s surface. If your desk has a hutch, you’ll need to pay close attention to its height.
The location of your desk matters. After all, that’s where you’ll spend most of your time working. To ensure your workdays are comfortable and productive, you must choose the right location for your desk.
President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for over 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.