Post 5 in the series: How to Set Up Your Desk
The place where you put your desk depends upon the type of desk configuration you have and the structure of the room/work area. The nature of your work area can place significant limitations on you that can’t fully be worked around. But I’ll present the ideal, and then suggest some work arounds.
There are three main principles here.
1. Don’t Make Your Desk Face the Wall
This will likely make you feel boxed in.
2. Don’t Have Your Back to the Door/Entrance
Having your back to the door is also to be avoided, because as Organizing for Dummies points out so well, “many a worker can vouch that this placement … makes you susceptible to scares when people walk up behind you” (190). This is called “cubicle paranoia.”
This being susceptible to scares is also called “cubicle paranoia.”
Also, having your back to the door is less welcoming.
3. If Possible, Make Your Desk Face Perpendicular to the Door/Entrance
This gives the right combination of concentration and control. You can see the door and aren’t walled up, but aren’t directly facing the door or entrance so as to be distracted every time someone walks by.
This isn’t always possible, however. Facing the entrance directly, then, is a close second. Some people might prefer this most of all. The most important thing is not to face the wall or away from the door.
Applying the Principles
Now, with an L-shaped or U-shaped desk, obviously part of the desk is going to have to be against the wall. The point is that the place where you sit should not face the wall or away from the entrance.
I’ve found that the best way to make this work is to place my monitor in the corner of the “L” shape of my desk. This maximize the use of space, since typically that is the deepest part of the desk and thus accommodates the monitor best, and allows me to face the entrance as much as possible. Here’s an example from my office at home:
Now, I mentioned in my previous post the “left to right” workflow pattern. This affects your placement very much if you use the L-shaped or U-shaped configurations. For your inbox and all of your equipment goes on your left side. The right side is kept open so that you can greet visitors and so that if they sit down there isn’t stuff in the way across the desktop.
For example, if you have a room like the following and an L-shaped configuration, do this:
But not this:
Sometimes, the layout of the room makes it impossible to implement the above principles completely.
In those cases, do the best you can. If you have a cubicle, for example, you may just have to put up with having your back to the entrance of your work area because that’s simply how most cubicles are designed. If that’s the way it has to be, that’s fine.
If you are in an office, doors and windows can often be in weird places that limit your options.
But the point is, don’t face the wall or away from the entrance if you don’t have to. Be intentional about your office layout. Don’t have your back to the door just because it seemed initially like the easiest way to set things up.
Posts in This Series
- How to Set Up Your Desk: An Introduction
- How to Set Up Your Desk: Basic Principles
- Excursus: Against Desk Hotels
- The Four Ways to Configure a Desk
- Where to Put Your Desk
- What to Put on Your Desktop and How to Use It
- What to Put in Your Desk Drawers and How to Use Them
- The Rest of the Room: How to Set Up Your Office