Home offices are something of a sacred space. For people who work from home like I do, it’s a buffer between your business and your family, a place without screaming kids or loud TVs. And it’s a place you can go that’s both more comfortable and professional feeling than your dining table. Working from home is tough, and having a place to go to work can make a big difference, but it’s important that you design that space well. If you’re only just starting to consider converting a room or basement into a home office or are just trying to find a better way to work, the very first thing you want to consider, and the first piece you’ll need to buy is an office desk.
Not Much Room To Spare
Personally, I have the great gleaming luxury of having a separate room for my home office. Granted, I do 100% of my work at home, and the space doesn’t come without sacrifices elsewhere, but all things considered, I’m pretty lucky. Plenty of people who work from home have to make due with a whole lot less. But if you’re able to claim your home office for tax purposes, it’s important that your “office” space be obvious, distinct, and used exclusively for your work. So if you don’t have much room to spare but do a significant portion of your work from home, start with a smaller office desk like this Soprano writing desk and put it in a less traveled part of your house. The amount of space you claim might not be huge, but using a real desk that only you use rather than a dining table is a great first step to making your space feel more professional (and meet the IRS’s qualifications).
Shop Office Desks:
Personally, I don’t have a lot of gadgets. My computer is the lifeblood of my office, and so much of my work is done electronically that I don’t have much need for filing cabinets or printer stands or other add-ons you’d expect to find in an office building. Chances are, this is true for you, too, if you do only some of your work from home. If this is the case, you might not need a particularly elaborate office desk, especially if you’re working with a smaller space. Heck, a good friend of mine turned a walk-in closet into an office (or “cloffice”) by sticking with a smaller piece of furniture.
The Corner Office
If you do tend to work with a lot of paperwork, have multiple laptops running at once, or have to use a typewriter (yes, this still happens in some industries!) as well as your computer, you probably need an office desk with a little more surface space. One of the best ways to maximize surface space while minimizing the footprint of your desk is to opt for a corner desk. These L-shaped desks extend out in either direction along two walls, butting right up against the corner so you can sit in the middle without taking up your whole room. Plus, many models, including this Z Deluxe office desk set, can be purchased in pieces and shoved together, allowing you to get a desk as long or short on either side as you want, as well as choose the position of the keyboard tray, monitor stand, and any other add-ons you want.
If you’re more of a multi-device type, with a printer/scanner/fax machine, three line telephone, desktop, laptop, two monitors, and an iPad, you probably want an office desk that’s large, flexible, and filled with storage. Look for a wide desk with drawers, adjustable shelves, or other storage. A shelf at your feet is a good place to keep a subwoofer if your job involves video or audio editing, while raised shelf on the back or one corner of the desk is a plus (though not a must) for raising your monitor (or second monitor) up to a more comfortable viewing level. Modern office desks with modular add-on features are a great choice, as they can easily be added to or altered based on the changing needs of your home office, while something like this foldaway desk is great for keeping your office supplies organized and hidden away when not in use.
Divide And Conquer
Okay, so this desk isn’t technically a desk, per se – if we’re getting real specific, it’s meant for a home bar. But I’m listing it here again for those of us that don’t have a full sized office. I’ve seen these used in kitchens as breakfast bars and entryways as mail holders, with some models where the desk folds entirely away into a flat wooden panel on the wall. Either way, these act as a room divider, allowing you the desk space (if not always the privacy) you need in a much, much smaller space. And because the storage is conveniently on the wall, you won’t have to worry about your stuff being disturbed in passing.
The Stop Gap
If you really really need a place to work at home, but there really really isn’t any space to make it happen, you can always opt for the least worst alternative: a laptop tray rather than a full sized office desk. Now, these don’t need to be any more sophisticated than your average TV tray, though there are compact desks designed specifically for this purpose. Special laptop trays typically have wheels and can, on occasion, be raised and lowered. Either way, this type of desk offers a sturdy replacement for an office desk in a petite size that will hold your laptop at a comfortable working height while you’re sitting – in a chair, on the sofa, or wherever. If you typically work on the couch, a laptop tray will keep your laptop from overheating (and probably improve your posture!), and is much more comfortable to use than your average coffee table. TV tray styles can be easily folded away when out of use, while models with wheels allow you to move your whole setup from room to room easily, which at the very least is a step up from having to clear all your work off the table at dinner time!
Don’t Forget Style
Finally, while it’s important to find an office desk that offers the features and comfort you need, if you have the luxury of building a separate home office, it’s so important to pay attention to design. Now, it doesn’t matter at all what your sense of style is – whether you want an antique roll top desk or a reclaimed industrial style drafting desk or anything in between. What matters is finding a desk that you like the look of, and that makes your space feel professional. Having a home office that feels more like an office than like home is probably the best way to stay focused and on task, even if your kids are watching TV in the next room.
What are the must-have features for your home office desk? What kind of home office set up do you have (or wish you had)?