There are numerous considerations to be taken into account when selecting an office desk, however the most essential points may be summed up as follows.
Firstly, whether the purpose of the desk is office work or study, consider that both these activities require extensive periods of sitting, typing, and writing. In line with this, an office desk which is height-adjustable to allow periods of standing is essential, especially given an abundance of research which points to prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour foreshadowing increased risks of malignant cardiac and diabetic events (Biswas et al., 2015). Longitudinal studies conducted in post-menopausal women have also indicated that cancer-associated mortality rates are also linked to sitting for 8 hours per day, as compared to those who sit for only 4 hours or less per day (Seguin et al., 2014). It is therefore crucial to long-term health to incorporate as much standing or movement into one’s day as possible, whilst actively working to reduce time spent seated (Ma et al., 2021). A height-adjustable desk proves optimal for this task due to the ability to incrementally increase or decrease desk height as per personal taste and comfort. Using a height-adjustable desk, one is able to stand for periods of time, walk on the spot, or stretch comfortably within arms’ reach of the workstation. It is also possible to set up under-desk treadmills which enable incorporation of exercise into the workday, a feature particularly suitable for hands-off activities such as meetings, lectures, or reading of documents. Use of standing desks within the workforce has also been shown to increase overall health, productivity, and task engagement, making this a tenable solution which works to improve both health and work outcomes (Finch et al., 2017; Ma et al., 2021).
Location and Positioning:
Secondly, one may consider both the location in which the desk is to be situated, as well as the number of people who will be utilising it. For smaller apartments or desks with only one user, a standalone rectangular desk accompanied by under-desk storage units may suffice. Comparatively, workers with copious amounts of files, papers, and other records to work with may require larger L-shaped desks, which allow movement between the 2 wings of the desk to access various files as needed. Notably, however, this may require a larger space to position the desk in. When looking to cut down on office space; for example, for combined home offices, which post-COVID-19 have remained hugely popular and a staple of many people’s lives, one may consider a larger desk segmented by a screen divider for use by 2 individuals (Xiao et al., 2021). Using a segmented desk, only one desk and room may be used as a combined workspace for 2 parents or roommates, also potentially proving more economical as compared to setting up 2 separate rooms with their own desks. For those living in smaller apartments or houses where spare rooms are not available, this combined desk arrangement would prove an excellent solution to allow tenable and effective WFH arrangements for multiple people.
Variety and Style:
Thirdly, desks come in a variety of different materials which vary in durability, style, care, and price. Classically stylish and extremely popular for many office desks, commercial quality melamine is a very robust material which is both highly durable and strong, and therefore expected to last for many years. Melamine is available in large variety of colours which also provide stylistically different grains. Another popularly used material is glass, which is strong, durable, and comparatively modern in style compared to the more classic wood. Glass surfaces have the benefit of being resistant to changes in temperature, as well as making rooms and surfaces appear bigger and cleaner due to their transparency. However, notably, glass desks can prove expensive depending on style, variety, and size, making them a difficult option for those with lower budgets.
The key considerations when purchasing an office desk can therefore be broadly distilled into a few major points. Firstly, one should consider a height adjustable desk given the increased risk of adverse health events associated with extended periods of sitting, coupled with use of standing desks found to increase overall productivity (Biswas et al., 2015). Secondly, an essential consideration is the available space for the desk, as well as the number of users, which will determine desk size and shape. Lastly, many desk materials are similarly durable and strong, and therefore a major element of this choice is simply personal taste in terms of the aesthetics of the room and chosen décor.