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Can Office Workers Survive Without Desks?


Canadian Treasury Board President Tony Clement is known as “Dr. No” around his Ottawa-based office, partly due to his government-mandated frugality. (Clement’s current goal is to cut $4 billion from the budget. That’s a lot of saying no.) One thing Dr. No has decided to nix: a desk.

In this case, Clement’s concern isn’t saving money: It’s his creativity, which he claims would be stifled if he used a desk. Instead, he uses a table, some chairs, and a couch. He feels this “sets a better tone” for his office, and is a more modern way of working. That may well be true, but we can think of a few functions of a desk that might be hard to replace with other furnishings in our cubicles.

1. Storing Your Work Stuff

This is the biggie: If you don’t have a desk, where do you keep all the stuff that generally goes on a desk? We’re talking about the computer, the phone, the printer, even the standing files and office supplies that a desk usually holds. Without this stuff within easy reach, how does a person even do their job?

2. Sitting up Straight

It’s easier to make your work environment ergonomically correct if you have a desk to sit at. Then you can add all the keyboard trays and wrist-rests that most modern workers seem to need in order to keep from shriveling up into a comma while typing.

3. Hiding Your Extra Shoes

Most people we know amass a collection of shoes at work. Sometimes this is because they wear comfy shoes for their commutes and fancy shoes at the office. Other times, it’s just a shoe collecting obsession that got out of hand. Whatever the reason, it’s difficult to hide five extra pairs of shoes without a desk to chuck them under.

4. Eating Lunch at Your Desk

This is a habit we’d all love to give up, and maybe the first item on this list that makes us want to get rid of our desks tomorrow. Eating lunch while hunched over your keyboard has got to be the most depressing thing ever.

5. Displaying Your Toy Collection

If you can’t display your vintage 1977 Star Wars jelly glasses, how will anyone know how hip and retro you are? Ditto the signs advising your colleagues to hang in there, or envision their success, or what have you. Without a desk, you really have nowhere to put this stuff.

Image: Visual Photos

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