The best desks for your office in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good desk should be ergonomic, giving you enough room to work without causing back or neck strain.
  • We consulted an ergonomist and an interior designer to find desks that combine comfort with style.
  • If you also need a supportive office chair, check out our guide to the best office chairs.

Whether you work from home or are back in the office, a good desk will help keep you comfortable and productive. A poorly designed desk can lead to back and neck strain, which will inevitably interfere with your day.

To find out what makes a great work desk, we consulted with experts in ergonomics and interior design to narrow down the hundreds of desks available at online retailers. We looked for desks that were between 23 and 29 inches tall for the best ergonomics (with bonus points going to products that are adjustable), as well as being stylish and made from high-quality materials. We explain our research methodology more at the end of the guide.

The best desks for your home office in 2021

The best standing desk

Fully desk with plants and office supplies on it.

The customizable Fully Jarvis Standing Desk provides a spacious work surface and an adjustable height, allowing you to position the desk to suit your frame.

From an ergonomics standpoint, an adjustable desk like the Fully Jarvis Standing Desk is the best option for most people since it allows you to change the surface height to match your frame and chair height. 

This particular adjustable desk comes in several widths and heights. We recommend opting for the “Extended Range” height option, which allows you to adjust the surface height between 24.5 and 50 inches. The metal frame is available in four colors, while the bamboo top comes in two finishes, and you also have the option to swap in a contoured tabletop on several of the larger sizes. 

The Jarvis has a toggle handset to adjust its height and lifting capacity of 350 pounds. While the base version of the desk is fairly simple, you can choose to outfit it with powered grommets, desk organizers, wire management kits, and more, creating a tailored solution to suit your needs. If you’re not satisfied with the desk, the brand offers a 30-day free return policy, as well as a 10-year warranty on desk frame components, mechanical parts, motors, and electrical components.

Read more about the Fully Jarvis in our standing desk guide, where we ranked it the best overall option.

The best desk for corners

Ameriwood L-shaped desk with a lamp, laptop, pencils, and a picture frame on top.

The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk has an L-shaped frame that offers more workspace than traditional desks.

The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk‘s L-shaped design will fit perfectly into the corner of an office, taking advantage of the extra space and providing a larger work surface than traditional desks. It’s just over 59 inches long and wide, and 29 inches tall. That may seem lower than most standard desks, but our experts say that 30-inch desks are too tall for most people to comfortably sit at. 

This corner desk has a black metal frame with a tempered glass top and faux cherry wood accents. The desk can support 60 pounds on each side and has two built-in storage shelves. The wooden corner piece and shelves are made from PVC laminate (a type of plastic), so they’re easy to care for.

The best desk for small spaces

Green Forest desk with laptop, photo frame, pen, and other office supplies on top.

The GreenForest Folding Desk is compact while still providing plenty of space for your work, and it can fold flat so it’s easy to store. 

The GreenForest Folding Desk can easily fit into a small apartment, dorm, or makeshift office, as it’s just 32 inches wide and 32 inches deep. The design features a lower desktop that can easily hold a laptop, notepad, or textbook, and there’s also a 6-inch upper shelf that’s ideal for a computer monitor or other desk essentials. 

This desk is supported by an X-shaped metal frame, and the desktop is made from medium-density fiberboard. There’s no assembly required, and when not in use, you can fold the desk flat and tuck it into a corner or behind a sofa.

The best desk for cable management

Union & Scale desk with white background.

The Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk features an integrated power strip with two USB ports, helping to streamline your workspace.

While its design may be simple, the Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk offers convenience for anyone who is regularly searching for an electrical outlet. It has an integrated power strip that you can access right on the desktop. There are two USB ports, allowing for easy charging for all your devices. The power cable for these outlets discreetly protrudes from the bottom of the desk’s back leg, helping to minimize the number of wires running behind your desk and reducing clutter in your space. 

This desk, which comes recommended by our experts, is 60 inches wide and just over 29 inches deep, and it has a 29-inch height that will be comfortable for most people. It’s supported by four metal legs and has a laminate top. You can choose between an all-white or faux wood finish to complement your decor.

The best affordable desk

Coavas desk with laptop, calendar, and pencils on top.

For a desk that won’t break the bank, the Coavas Computer Desk is a comfortable size and it folds down flat when not in use, making it easier to store and move. 

Despite its low price, the Coavas Computer Desk checks off many of the boxes for a comfortable, ergonomic workspace. The desk has an industrial-inspired design with a metal frame and faux wood top. It’s a moderate size at 40 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 28 inches tall.

Because of its shallow depth (a common feature among budget-friendly desks), it may not be the most comfortable to use when working on a computer, but it will work well for reading, writing, and studying. You can assemble this desk in a matter of seconds, and it’s equally easy to disassemble if you want to put it into storage or move it. 

This desk has a weight capacity of 200 pounds thanks to its metal frame. The top is made from medium-density fiberboard, which means you should avoid getting it wet or placing hot objects on the surface. While it might not last forever, the Coavas desk is budget-friendly and sturdy, making it a worthwhile choice for a temporary office.

The best minimalist desk

Ikea white desk.

The Ikea Bekant Desk has a simple design that adjusts to different heights, and it features an integrated cord management system to keep your workspace neat.

If you prefer a minimalistic appearance, the Ikea Bekant Desk is about as plain as they come with its monochromatic two-leg design. However, this desk is sturdy and functional, thanks to its adjustable height and built-in cable management system. 

The desktop is 63 inches long and 31.5 inches deep, and you can adjust its height between 26 and 33.5 inches to best suit your height and chair. The table has a weight capacity of 220 pounds, and it has a melamine surface that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. Additionally, there’s a net underneath the tabletop that allows you to tuck away unsightly cords, keeping your workspace tidy.

Just keep in mind that the Bekant doesn’t have electronic controls. To change its height, you need an Allen key (otherwise known as a hex key), so it isn’t the best choice if you want a desk you can adjust at the touch of a button.

The best extra-wide desk

Article desk with white background.

The Article Madera Desk gives you plenty of space to spread out thanks to its 71-inch width. The desk is crafted from durable solid wood and features a hidden cable management cabinet.

Need ample room to spread out all your work essentials? The Article Madera has a spacious 71-inch design that allows you to set up a computer, with plenty of space left over for documents, books, and other work essentials. This stylish desk is available in either oak or chestnut finishes, and it’s crafted from solid and veneered wood for a durable frame that will stand the test of time. 

The desk is 71 inches long, 30 inches deep, and 30 inches high. Its height means it might be best for taller people. The table has an industrial style with metal accents and exposed bolts, and the wood is finished with a wire brush for a naturally textured appearance. 

There’s a hidden cable management cabinet at the rear of the desk so you can tuck away charging cables and cords. For added storage, Article also offers a matching Madera File Cabinet to complete your home office.

The best wall-mounted desk

Pottery Barn Trenton desk with white background.

The Trenton Fold Out Table takes up minimal space thanks to its wall-mounted design, and you can install it at the appropriate height for an ergonomic workspace. 

If you’re hoping to turn any space into a makeshift office, the Pottery Barn Trenton Fold Out Table is an ideal solution. The versatile table mounts on the wall, and its solid pine surface easily folds down when it’s time to work. Once you’re done for the day, you can simply clear off the tabletop and fold it back up, freeing up valuable space in your home. 

This fold-out desk is 30 inches wide and just over 22 inches deep. Because of its shallow depth, it’s not the best option for working on a computer, but it will work well for reading and writing. Since you can mount it at any height, you can find the perfect spot to match your height and chair and keep your body ergonomically aligned. 

The desk’s frame is made from powder-coated steel for durability, and its kiln-dried pine surface is easy to maintain. You can use the steel brace as a magnet board, pinning up important notes and other documents in front of your work area.

The best writing desk

Pottery Barn Bedford white desk with 3 drawers on the left.

The Bedford Writing Desk from Pottery Barn is a well-made piece of furniture with a classic design, and it features a two- or three-drawer cabinet for all your storage needs.

Writing desks have a simple yet timeless design. Because they’re designed for note-taking, reading, and writing, they’re often not as large as computer desks. The tricky part when shopping for a writing desk is finding one that doesn’t have a pull-out drawer in the center that will interfere with proper ergonomics. With that in mind, one of the best options is Pottery Barn’s Bedford Writing Desk.

This desk is 52 inches long and 23 inches wide, giving you ample space to spread out with your papers. It’s crafted from kiln-dried pine and veneers with an antique white finish, and you can choose whether you want a two-drawer cabinet with two file drawers or a three-drawer cabinet, which has one file drawer and two small standard drawers for supplies. This cabinet tower fits on either side of the desk, allowing you to tailor the piece to your space. The back of the desk is finished in case you want to have it facing the room.

The best drafting desk

Zeny light brown desk with stool in front of it.

It’s easy to adjust the height of the Zeny Drafting Desk to suit your needs, and the top tilts to make it easier for architects and other creative professionals to draw. 

Drafting desks are a popular choice for architects and creative professionals, as the tabletop tilts to allow for more comfortable drawing, painting, or sketching. The Zeny Drafting Desk is ideal for any of these tasks. It has a spacious and adjustable workspace, as well as two storage drawers, a built-in pen container, and a side table for other supplies. 

The desktop measures 34 inches wide and over 23 inches deep, and you can adjust the height of the drafting desk between 28 and 36 inches. Additionally, the tabletop adjusts from 0 to 45 degrees, allowing you to tilt it to a comfortable angle. The desk has a steel frame and MDF surfaces, and it also comes with a matching stool.

What to look for in a desk

Two desks with one having a lamp, picture frame, pens, laptop, and other office supplies on it. The other is empty.

To develop criteria for evaluating desks, we consulted with two experts. We spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS-HFE, CPE, the principal ergonomist of Learn Ergo and a consultant with UC Ergonomics Research Lab, and interior designer Sherri Monte of Elegant Simplicity. Both regularly work with their clients to create comfortable, ergonomic, and highly functional home offices. They highlighted several important features that you should prioritize ahead of aesthetic appeal.

I used their guidance, as well as my background as a product reviewer for four years, when selecting desks for this guide. I used my experience testing household products to develop a comprehensive testing methodology. 

Height

While 30 inches is the standard height for many desks, this is actually too high for most people. “The correct height for your computer desk is your relaxed elbow height when you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor,” said Afterman. 

“It really depends on your own height and upper arm length, but the range that most people fall in is between 23 and 29 inches above the floor. I usually recommend a 28-inch tall desk if you can find it, but even that may be too high” said Afterman. She typically prefers height-adjustable desks, which allow you to find the best height for your frame. If you’re looking specifically for standing desks, check out our guide.

Depth

While desk width is a matter of preference, the depth of the surface can impact your comfort if you’re using a computer. If you plan to put a computer monitor on your desk, our experts recommend avoiding desks that are too narrow, which can cause back strain.

“I always recommend a 30-inch-deep desk,” said Afterman. “The problem with a shallow desk is that you cannot get enough distance between your eyes and the monitor when sitting relaxed back in the chair.” You end up resting your hands and wrists on the desktop when using the keyboard and mouse. “These postures can quickly fatigue the upper back and compress the soft tissue or nerves in the wrist,” Afterman said.

However, for those who don’t need a computer, a narrower desk may work just fine.

Thin table top without drawers in the center

Many desks include a drawer or two underneath the tabletop, but this type of design can cause strain on your body. Afterman explains that you increase the risk of bumping your knees on features like drawers, shelves, or panels, and they can interfere with your ability to set your work chair at an appropriate height. “When you have a drawer under the desk, you can only raise your chair so high without your legs bumping into the bottom of the table. This leads to shrugging your shoulders up to use the keyboard and mouse, which quickly leads to shoulder and neck soreness or pain,” said Afterman.

Material

The most common desk materials are wood, metal, glass, and manufactured materials such as medium-density fiberboard, frequently called MDF. Kiln-dried hardwood and metal are more durable choices, but they also drive up the price. If you only need a temporary solution to last a few years, MDF or other faux materials are budget-friendly, but they’re also more prone to wear, stains, and warping. 

Storage

There are many items you may want to keep on hand as you work, ranging from pens and pencils to files, books, and charging cables. If there aren’t other storage spaces nearby, you may want to look for a desk with a side tower of drawers or a built-in file cabinet, as long as they don’t protrude into your leg space

“Ultimately, a good desk provides you with the basic things you need for when you need them,” says Monte. “Maybe this desk has file storage built in or perhaps it’s just got a few basic drawers, but functionality matters.”

Design

Finally, there’s also the matter of choosing a desk that matches your aesthetic. This should be a secondary consideration after ergonomic requirements are met, but there is no shortage of desks to choose from, including modern, contemporary, mid-century, traditional, and more. We focused on ergonomics here in our guide and considered the design when choosing our top picks.

What type of desk do I need?

Four different types of desks in one photo.

There are several common desk styles that you will encounter, and the differences between them can be confusing. Here are the distinctions of each style.

Height-adjustable desks

Height-adjustable desks have gained popularity in recent years, as they allow you to set the exact height of the desktop to suit your chair and body. “A height-adjustable table can be used to optimize the desk height when you’re sitting and has the added bonus of providing a standing option as an alternative to mix into your day,” said Afterman.

These desks are often controlled by electronic panels (which means they need to be plugged into an outlet), but some budget options are manual. Others require tools, like an Allen key, which is more time-consuming.  

Computer desks

Computer desks are specifically designed to accommodate an electronic setup. These desks typically have larger desktops that provide space for a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other components, and they often have various cord management features, as well. 

Writing desks

When compared to computer desks, writing desks are typically not as spacious. They’re often not deep enough to comfortably use a computer monitor. Writing desks frequently have drawers on one or both sides, as well as under the desktop, providing space to store writing implements and notebooks. Some also feature a hutch on top for additional storage. Because they’re a more traditional style of furniture, you’ll find that many writing desks have a classic aesthetic.

Corner desks

Corner desks have an L-shaped design that fits into the corner of a room. They come in many different styles and materials, and they often provide more workspace than traditional desks. Some may also feature shelves, file cabinets, or drawers built into their designs.

Executive desks

Originally used by managers and other high-ranking professionals, executive desks are large and stately. Because they’re often arranged in the center of a room, they typically have finished backs. Many executive desks have a double-pedestal design, meaning there are file cabinets or drawers on each side. They naturally become the focal point of any space.

Drafting desks

Drafting desks, also called drafting tables or architect’s tables, are used for drawing and sketching. They’re defined by a tilting tabletop, which can generally be fixed at several angles. These desks often have large work surfaces that can accommodate oversized architectural plans or sketch pads, and there may also be drawers, side tables, and organizers for things like pens and paper.

How should you sit at a desk?

White desk with laptop, notebook, lamp on it and a black office chair in front.

In addition to having a desk that’s the proper height, width, and depth, you should also sit properly for comforot and ergonomics. “Foot support is critical to reducing back strain,” said Afterman. “Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest if your seat is raised. The knees should be even with, or slightly lower than, your hips.”

You’ll also want to ensure that your arms are in an appropriate position. “The arms should be supported with the shoulders relaxed,” said Afterman. “You can get support from the chair armrest or the work surface. Avoid resting on the elbows as this can compress the ulnar nerve. Instead, rest on the muscle area of the forearm to allow the shoulders and back to relax.”  

Finally, be sure to position your chair and computer monitor in proper locations to reduce strain. “You should sit close enough to the desk to keep the elbows near the body and avoid reaching forward,” says Afterman. “Set the monitor height with the top of the screen at eyebrow level (lower for bifocal wearers) and close enough to read while you relax back in the chair.”

How should you style a desk?

Desk with photo frame of puppies, black lamp, several books leaning together and flat on the desk as well.

It’s not always easy to arrange your furniture in a way that’s functional but also stylish, and it’s extra challenging when it involves a work desk in your home. “When arranging your desk in your home or office, you want to think about what the focal point of the space is,” says Monte. “When a room lacks a focal point, our eyes tend to bounce all over the place.”

If you have a designated room for an office or want to create a dedicated office space in a living room or bedroom, try creating a natural focal point with a rug. “Not only will this be soft under feet while you’re working, but it will also layer in a bit of warmth to any office,” said Monte. 

Monte recommends opting for a rug that’s significantly larger than your desk, as this will ensure your chair isn’t constantly rolling off the edge. If you’re looking for recommendations for office seating, check out our guide to the best office chairs.

Check out our other home office guides

Full photo of a desk with two monitors, various office supplies, a plant on the floor, and a lamp to the right of the desk.

The best standing desks


The best active seating for your office


The best office chairs


The best desk lamps for your office

Read the original article on Business Insider