The role of the office desk in modern workplaces

How a piece of office furniture becomes a political statement

The pine or beech office desk is probably the most popular yet most forgotten about piece of office equipment. Once it’s in, it’s in and they tend to last pretty much forever, only being thrown out when there’s a full office re-fit taking place or the decorators manage to totally destroy one when fitting the new ceiling lights.

However, the desk plays an important part in the office, a part maybe more steeped in politics than functionality as even the cheapest ones do their job of keeping things off the floor pretty well.

The operator desk

If you happen to sit in the office hierarchy as an ‘operator’ then it’s fairly common you’ll have a pretty basic desk. Solid, square with a divider between you and the next operator and if you’re lucky, a pedestal of drawers underneath. Perfectly fine for the role at hand, after all, you’ll just be typing at a computer most of the day and shuffling paper around.

Concentrate on the seat here, that’s more important and a good one that ensures good posture all day without slouching is absolutely essential.

The office manager’s desk

Someone has to manage the operators and that’s usually the bossy person sat in the corner of the office. Their desk will be larger because, well, they have to sign all the bits of paper the operators bring to them and they’ve probably got a second monitor.

Also, they’ll have an extra corner bit so they can have meetings with staff. You’ll also find they build a fortress around them with other bits of desk equipment!

The director’s desk

The most impressive of all. During my early years of working I was always impressed by the account director’s desk which was totally black, almost always empty save for the one bit of paper he was currently dealing with and it had a big square of leather in the middle.

This impressed me because it was just like the one that Lieutenant Marty Castillo had in Miami Vice!

The director must show his status and so these desks are usually very big, made from a hardwood and nearly always very tidy.

This article originally appeared in: