Workstations: What shape is best?

Question: Is there a perfect shape for a desk? Answer: That depends.

It depends on:
-How people work
-What tasks they do
-The workplace culture
-The built environment

The ever-changing workplace

If you think back 20 years or so, corner workstations were the standard choice. The corner was the best place to house the huge computers and monitors we had back then. People also needed a spot for their desktop telephone and all their paper files. How things have changed!

Technology developments have freed the workplace significantly. People are no longer tied to their desks – they can work anywhere and anytime. This opens up new options for workplace design and furniture. Heck – do people even need a desk?

More choice

Most people still need desks at their workplace – for some of the time at least. A desk (or workstation, or worksystem) is a place to use technology, to think, talk, write. A place to work.

Today there is more choice than ever. This can make specification decisions harder.

So to help you specify the perfect desks for your next project we’ve put together a list of questions to consider. They will seem obvious, but sometimes when you’re busy the obvious gets overlooked. We hope these questions serve as a quick way to focus your workstation choices.

1. How collaborative?

For the people using the workstation where do they sit on the collaboration vs focus scale?

-How often do they work with others?
-How often do they have people drop by and ask for something?
-Is their work dependent on others?
-How much quiet and focus do they need?

These questions impact choices such as:
-Workstation layout
-Collaboration and focus spaces

2. What tasks?

For the people using the workstations, what’s their modus operandi?

-How much time do they spend at their desk?
-Do they need specialist equipment or technology at their desk?
-How often do they need access to physical resources such as books, files etc?
-Do they spend a lot of time on the phone?
-How much privacy do they need?

These questions impact choices such as:
-Workstation size, shape, configuration
-Owned and shared spaces
-Wire management

3. What feeling?

Every organisation has their own culture and style. Even teams within an organisation do.
-What are the cultural drivers?
-What feeling are you trying to create?
These questions impact both aesthetic and function choices.

4. What space?

There are always constraints and opportunities within a building’s floor plan. That’s where more choice can be handy.

Next project – ask first

The next time you’re specifying workstations pause for a minute and consider these questions. Because as you know, all good design starts with understanding user needs.
At Crestline we have a wide range of workstations and desks available on good lead-times. Want to find out more or need help with space planning? Give us a call on 07 855 9932 or email

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