An Inside Look at the Shrinking Desk—and What You Can Do About It

When setting out to design and configure a modern workspace, there are two elements you can’t ignore: what appears to be ever-shrinking desk space, and what most definitely is a proliferation of new technology. It’s essential to arrange the right “marriage” between the two. Workers not only need to remain productive—often in collaboration, they’re also using different types of tech tools that require a flexible use of space. What’s the solution?

Understanding the
Space-Tech Trends

It’s not your imagination: desks are getting smaller as offices are opening up. This makes sense as today’s computers tend to be slimmer, while office workers on the whole are moving to paperless, more inherently mobile workflows. It all adds up to the need for less desk real estate.

Consider three types of desk that are popular today, and which fall right in line with the shrinking desk phenomenon:

  • Slimline desks are rectangular options that have a depth of approximately 60cm, some as narrow as 50.8cm. By definition, they’re slim, designed to take up less space. As a result, they have less room to accommodate technology.
  • Bench desks, which are frequently seen in open office spaces, are used to create a long run of desks. With single desks laid out side by side by side, people (and their technology) tend to sit closer together.
  • Back-to-back desks feature two desks in a single unit, allowing for two desktops or screens to sit back-to-back. Again, these are commonly found in open office environments, where the use of space is more dynamic and flexible.

Part of the challenge of shrinking desk space is that many office workers use more than one screen and/or interchange the devices they use to work and interact. Hot desks and collaborative workstations, for instance, must be flexible enough to meet various users’ technology and screen placement preferences.

Accommodating Today’s
Workflows and Technology

Workspaces are essentially productivity centres and need to support the various ways people work. Increasingly, spaces are used differently depending on the task at hand: one person may sit at a desk set-up for a few hours, followed by a group. Co-workers need room to comfortably share ideas and engage in other team-oriented activities, which, of course, depend on technology—in various forms.

With this in mind, it’s critical to consider the following elements when designing an adaptive space:

1. Ergonomics

Various users of a workspace may be using various screens at various times in various ways, so care should be given to ensure comfort in single and multi-screen set-ups:

  • If different sized screens are being used at the same time, the centre of each screen should be positioned at the same height.
  • The top of each screen should be placed at forehead-level, which is different for every user.
  • Screens should also tip back by about 15 degrees and adjust to a healthy focal distance of at least 20 inches away (about an arm’s length).
2. Workflow

Each individual and team should be able to configure their workspace "on demand:"

  • The primary screen should be placed directly across from the user.
  • Programs/documents should be accessible from the central, primary monitor, even if work is performed on secondary or tertiary screen; workloads should be spread fairly evenly across screens.
  • User(s) should have space/chair/desk flexibility to position and re-position themselves as their extended focus shifts from screen to screen.
3. Desk real estate

Making the most of space calls for the ability to:

  • Move/adjust placement of screens “up and away” when not in use.
  • Turn screens from horizontal to vertical orientation as needed.
  • Mount technology screens on the back edge of a workspace so valuable space isn’t taken up by traditional desk base stands.

Space-Saving,
Ergonomic Solutions

When designing or arranging a workspace that will contain smaller desks and which needs to fit any number of technology and screen requirements, the key is to maximise space for comfort and productivity. Both can be achieved by using modular technology mounts—they’re configurable (and re-configurable), adjustable, and ready to be installed in any workspace setting.

Find out about Atdec’s modular monitor mounts for modern workspaces.

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