The 10 Best Computer Desks
Your Ideal Work Or Gaming Station
The word ergonomics comes to us from Greek. It is a composite of two words, ergon, which means work, and nomoi, which refers to "natural laws." At its most basic definition, you can think of ergonomics as the relationship between human capability and the demands of work with which they are challenged. Of course it has also come to refer to the tools and methods used to heighten the former and lessen the latter.
The bonafide study of ergonomics began in the middle of the 19th Century thanks to publications by a Polish scientist named Wojciech Jastrzębowski, who conducted research on everything from botany to physics to zoology to horticulture. The term and the study would not enter the mainstream until the middle of the 20th Century, however, when it was finally used by a British psychologist named Hywel Murrell in 1949.
In modern parlance, ergonomics refers to three distinct areas of attention, which can be defined as: organizational, which refers to how systems and planning impact achievement, production, and progress; cognitive, which relates to how a given environment or methodology works with varied thought processes; or physical, which speaks to how the actual tangible properties of a space impact the work or thinking that is done there.
When most people use the term ergonomic, they are doing so in the vein of that last point, the physical. One will hear of an ergonomic show, an ergonomic chair, and so forth. The design of the chair in which you sit during long hours working, writing, or gaming is indeed important, but of equal importance is the design and layout of your actual work or gaming desk. The easier you make it to interface with your computer and your various monitors and hardware, the more comfortable your body will remain, and the more productive and high quality your work output will be, or the more enjoyable your gaming or web surfing session.
An ideal work or gaming station -- which for simplicity's sake we'll just call a desk -- easily accommodates all the hardware you use. That means ample space for as many monitors as you need, room for a keyboard, and space for your mouse, a joystick, and a notepad and a cup of coffee. On the other hand, if all you use is a single laptop, then your ideal desk might be quite small, occupying minimal space in your home or office yet more than adequately supporting your computer. Don't commit to this or that compute desk until you are first what hardware you will be using at the desk; it's much easier to spend the time researching a desk before buying it than it is trying to retrofit a unit to suit your needs later.
The Compact Computer Desk
If you have limited available square footage in your home or office but you need a good computer desk, you will be pleased to know how many options you have at your disposal. Many smaller computer desks have clever features like drop down keyboard trays that help you make the most of your limited desktop space, while others are designed to fit snugly into corners.
Still other computer desks save you space overall by incorporating the drawers and cabinets you would usually have in separate filling and storage cabinets into their design, reducing the need for additional pieces of furniture. These hutch style desks are perfect for the working professional with a smaller apartment or for the student's bedroom.
To make the most of your smaller desk, take a clue from one of the areas of ergonomic study: organization. When you have a designated place for all your paperwork, pens, discs, and so forth, it's easier to keep your desk free of clutter. Look around a the average person's desk, both at their job and their home, and you'll realize how much of the stuff there really is superfluous. In fact most of us would do fine with much smaller desks than we use.
One good "hack" for dealing with a small desk when you use a fair amount of hardware is to wall mount your monitors, freeing up desktop space. Also consider using a wireless mouse and keyboard, both of which can easily be tucked away elsewhere when not in use without the annoyance of unplugging wires.
The Large Work Station
On the other hand, if you have ample space in your home or in your office, there's no reason not to enjoy a spacious desk that affords you plenty of room to spread out. When possible, designate one area of your desk for computer hardware -- keyboard, mouse, monitors, and so forth -- and leave another clear for writing or reading. Large corner desks make this type of organization easy, almost serving as two separate desks at one time.
A large desk can also allow you to set up two different types of work station: you can accessorize your large desk with an elevated tabletop unit, creating a standing desk in one area while maintaining a standard seated desk in another.
And of course a large desk is a must for the programmer, designer, or diehard gamer who works with two or even three monitors. Again, first take stock of all the hardware you will use and what other activities will take place at your desk, such as spreading out blueprints or newspapers, and then choose which large unit suits you and your workflow best.