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Home office desk buying guide

No home office setup is complete without a sturdy, spacious desk. Use our expert buying guide to pick the right one for you.
Tom Morgan

Finding the best home office desk to suit your job and your space is key to working from home effectively. In our expert buying guide, you'll find details on how to choose your desk wisely, along with product recommendations from several big-name retailers.

Which desk you can buy will be determined to a large degree by the layout of your room. A corner desk offers plenty of room to spread out if you have space. But for a smaller house or rented accommodation, you might need to squeeze in a portable desk on wheels or a laptop stand that you can rest on the kitchen table.

Discover more about the best desks for working from home, including standing desks, folding desks and wall-mounted desks, plus how much they cost, where to buy and expert tips for healthy desk working.

Five key considerations for choosing your home office desk

1. How big is the desk?

Opt for the largest home office desk that fits comfortably in your space, as you can never have enough work surface. Remember, if you have more space to play with, you can add worktop drawers for additional storage.

A standard two-drawer desk will measure around one metre wide. If you're tucking yourself into the corner of the room or in a gap beneath the stairs, a one-drawer desk might be a better fit. Really short on space? An Ikea laptop stand measures around 50-70cm wide and has a rubber underside to stop it from moving around.

As well as recording the more obvious dimensions of your room and the measurements of the desk before you buy online, also check whether an existing office chair you use will fit underneath it.

Average home office desk height Typically, a home office desk is around 73-76cm high. Note that some home office desks have feet that can be raised slightly if needed.

2. Does the desk promote a healthy posture?

Working from home at your desk for hours at a time in an unnatural position is bad for your back. Make some adjustments to your desk space and you can prevent muscle strain and back pain.

Advice on the NHS website suggests you consider the following when setting up your home office desk:

  • Adjust your chair so your lower back is properly supported – doing so will reduce your risk of back pain
  • Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips – use a footrest if necessary
  • To help prevent repetitive strain injuries, your wrists and forearms should be straight and level with the floor
  • Your screen should be an arm's length in front of you
  • The top of your screen should be level with, or slightly below, eye level
  • A mouse mat with a wrist pad can help to keep your wrist straight
  • If you spend a lot of time on the phone, try using a headset – it's better for your neck.

3. Does the desk offer storage space?

If your compact home office has no room for additional storage, consider a desk with built-in drawers.

To add storage space to a desk you already own, buy a monitor stand with built-in drawers. You can also tuck paper and storage baskets underneath a laptop stand.

4. What is the desk made from?

The majority of looks-like-wood desks are made from laminated particle board or MDF – or sometimes a wood frame with MDF drawers and top. Look out for descriptions mentioning 'wood effect' and 'engineered wood' to help you understand what you're getting.

MDF is generally quite strong, affordable and comes in a multitude of finishes. It has a very smooth surface, which means you can paint it a different colour if you decide to redecorate your home office. Note that you can't stain MDF as the paint gets soaked up.

You'll pay considerably more for a desk finished with real wood veneers or a desk made from solid wood. You could knock yourself up a reclaimed wood pallet desk for a lot less if you're a budding carpenter.

Metal desks are often made with a steel frame, with fittings of brass or copper popping up. They're also fireproof and waterproof, but watch out for rough edges that could scratch wood floors – you may want to invest in some table feet.

5. Is the desk easy to move around?

You might fancy a new view once in a while, or decide to work closer to the window on a sunny day. If so, look for a desk with wheels (and a brake!).

Metal desks are easier to disassemble and reassemble. Solid metal, as with solid wood, could make for a heavier desk that's a pain to try to drag to a new position.

Desk types

Wall-mounted desk

Typical spend: £50-150

A wall-mounted desk is usually kept in place by brackets. Some models just 'float' in place and have nothing underneath, while others have legs to offer extra support.

If you want to clear some space when you're done with work, you can pick a wall-mounted desk that folds down when not being used.

Above: Carrick Floating Desk, Wayfair, £139.99
Above: Carrick Floating Desk, Wayfair, £139.99

Desk on wheels

Typical spend: £50-150

Lots of online retailers stock portable work spaces on wheels that you can move around. Wayfair is a good place to start, selling a range of wheel-equipped desks that, in some cases, are even big enough to hold a printer.

Above: Functional PC Office Trolley, Argos, £30
Above: Functional PC Office Trolley, Argos, £20

Corner desk (L-shaped desk)

Typical spend: £150-200

Investing in a corner desk (also known as an L-shaped desk) could be a wise move if you're dealing with an awkward room shape.

Corner desks are usually pricier than common, rectangular desks, but on the plus side you get a space-saving design and room for storing your work documents.

Above: Habitat Pepper Corner Desk, Argos, £160
Above: Habitat Pepper Corner Desk, Argos, £160

Standing desk (sit/stand desk)

Typical spend: £150-200 (manual)/£250-plus (electric)

If you like the idea of working on your feet once in a while, a sit/stand desk is the way to go. These shape-shifting desks encourage a healthier working from home routine, improving circulation in your legs and reducing lower back pain.

You'll save some money if you opt for a manual sit/stand desk. These are usually operated by a crank system that lets you decide exactly how tall you want the desk.

If you've got the budget for it, an electric sit/stand desk is even more convenient, transforming at the touch of a button.

Above: FLEXISPOT Electric Standing Desk, Amazon, £249.99
Above: FLEXISPOT Electric Standing Desk, Amazon, £249.99

Treadmill desk

Typical spend: from £1,000 (fits under your existing standing desk) to £3,000 (includes both treadmill and desk). 

Treadmill desks are the next step up from sit/stand desks in the 'healthy desk' stakes. They're made up of a treadmill that's sat underneath an attached standing desk – this lets you exercise while you work. Alternatively, you can buy a treadmill that goes underneath your existing sit/stand desk.

Are treadmill desks a good idea? Yes, if you think you can still focus on your job while walking. Combining the two is akin to patting your head while rubbing your stomach: it can take a while to master.

Can you lose weight with a treadmill desk? Yes, if you walk far enough, although you can't run. As a result, you obviously won't burn off quite as much as you would on the treadmill at the gym.

Computer desk

Typical spend: £100-200

These are built to withstand the weight of a laptop or PC monitor.

Many computer desks arrive with a roll-out tray for a computer keyboard, along with shelving that's big enough to accommodate a home office printer or PC tower.

Above: Amiiyah Computer Desk, Wayfair, £113.99
Above: Amiiyah Computer Desk, Wayfair, £98.99

Compact, lap and foldaway desks for small home office spaces

We don't all have room for a permanent desk setup, especially in a shared household.

If you're looking for a way to save space while working from home, consider the following types of desks designed for small spaces:

Laptop stand

Typical spend: £20-40

This is a good option if you don't want to buy a new table for your home office setup. Using a laptop stand can also work wonders for your posture, preventing you from hunching over while scrolling through emails.

Most laptop stands are made of metal, but we've seen some plastic alternatives on Amazon. Plastic is more likely to bend under the weight of a chunky laptop, though, so be careful.

Bed/sofa tray desk

Typical spend: £20-40

A sofa desk works in the same way a dinner tray does. It's a flat, lightweight platform on legs, so you can sit or lie down on the sofa or bed and use your laptop without it sliding around all over the place. Most sofa tray desks come with textured feet that offer some extra stability.

Folding desk

Typical spend: £30-70

Folding desks usually consist of a small, square working surface. You won't have as much space here as you would with a standard, two-drawer desk. On the plus side, you can fold up the table and tuck it away when you're done working.

Habitat Compact Folding Office Desk
Above: Habitat Compact Folding Office Desk, Argos, £40

Popular desks

We don't test desks at the moment but Ikea, John Lewis and Wayfair are among the most searched-for retailers for desks at the time of writing.

So we asked each to tell us which are their most popular desks. Below is a selection of different types and styles from those picks.

Home office desks from big-name retailers

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/working-from-home/article/home-office-guides/home-office-desk-buying-guide-aUIZg8A4zzE7

  1. Micke desk, 105x50 cm, Ikea (£60) – this affordable desk from Ikea could be a contender if you're tight on space. It's available in a range of finishes, including red, black-brown and oak effect. A hole on the surface of the desk lets you feed through cables so they're kept out of sight.
  2. Bekant desk, 160x80 cm, Ikea (£130) – adjustable legs mean you can set this desk at a height between 65-85cm. It has an under-desk cable management net and features a 'durable' melamine surface.
  3. Bekant sit/stand desk, 160x80cm, Ikea (£425) – this is one of Ikea's pricier picks. It's an electric sit/stand desk, which means it can adjust from 64 to 125cm. A net on the underside of the desk lets you hide unsightly cables.
  4. Anyday James Desk, 100x70cm, John Lewis (£99) – the cheapest desk that John Lewis suggested to us. This model is made from toughened glass and has a painted MDF frame.  
  5. Anyday Loft Desk, 105x52cm, John Lewis (£199) – a home office desk that features five cubby holes and a drawer for your work supplies. The worktop pulls out slightly, so once you're done working you can push it back to save space.
  6. Hairpin Desk, 76x54cm, John Lewis (£299) – this is a modern desk made from oak veneer, available in a light or dark finish. It has a pull-out drawer and a hollow compartment for storage.
  7. Aaeden Desk, 100x50cm, Wayfair (£60) – an industrial-style desk with a manufactured wood surface and iron legs. This desk can fold flat, which means you can store it out of the way when not in use.
  8. Winston Desk, 100x55cm, Wayfair (£99) – if you're shopping for a desk with plenty of storage, take a closer look at this Wayfair model. There are six mini compartments on the left side, plus a hollow space and a larger pull-out drawer.
  9. Akins Solid Wood Desk,  120x46cm, Wayfair (£240) – a home office desk with a solid wood surface and a pair of soft-close drawers with brass shell handles.

Where to buy a home office desk

When shopping for a home office desk, check the retailer's returns policy and pay attention to customer feedback and reviews.

Popular retailers stocking a selection of home office desks include:

  • Amazon – thousands of home office desks for different room sizes.
  • Argos – basic workstations and premium oak desks.
  • eBay – offers lots of choice with the majority of the desks built from wood or MDF.
  • Ikea – stocks both portable laptops stands and large computer desks.
  • John Lewis – a selection of wood desks in different tones. You'll also spot lots of desk accessories for storing pens and paper.
  • Office Furniture Online – space-saving desks in a range of styles.
  • Ryman – sells regular sit-down desks and standing desks.
  • Wayfair – a good go-to for variety. Sells sit-down desks, portable desks on wheels and wall-mounted desks.

See our rundown of the best and worst online shops, as voted for by thousands of shoppers.

How to decorate a home office desk

Once you've settled on a desk for your home office, you'll probably want to jazz it up with additional decorations and accessories. You'll be spending several hours a day working at your home office desk, so it needs to be healthy for mind and body.

Have a think about what you could add to the space to make it feel more personal. A lick of paint or some family photos sat atop a floating shelf could work well, as could a plant – but don't go overboard with the clutter, as that will increase stress.

Storage is also important. If you need more space, invest in some storage boxes or stationery organisers.

You may also want to make the area smell lovely – a fragrant plant can help boost your energy levels.

How to declutter your desk

Try and get into the habit of decluttering your workspace regularly. Tidying everything away makes it quicker to start work the next day and it puts a full stop on the end of this working day, aiding your mental wellbeing.

Take a look at all the items sitting on your desk and ask yourself if they're 100% necessary. If not, you can tuck them into a drawer or get rid of them entirely. You might also want to install some hanging shelves to clear space on your desk.

And although it's tempting, don't eat at your desk. Step away from your desk for lunch to help take a proper break and prevent crumbs in your keyboard.

For more tips on improving your home office, see 10 ways to stay healthy working from home.