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Work flow dictates desk space design

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by Ann Bucy

SBJ Contributing Writer

Is your desk or workspace way too crowded? Does the thought of adding one more paper clip to it make you cringe? Take heed. The following information should provide you with some useful tips in getting organized.

"Think about how your work processes flow," said David Moles, general manager of Today's Office. "Do they flow left to right or vice versa? If you're left handed, have the phone on your left side.

"Also, if you use your computer a lot, make it the first item in the flow process," he said. "The equipment that you use the most should be very accessible. Whether it's a computer, phone or typewriter, make sure there's space for those things on your workstation. Don't have them off in a corner where they're not convenient to get to."

He added that each workspace should be designed for the person using it. "Your workspace shouldn't be a cookie-cutter copy of other people's, because no two people are just alike. Whatever the majority of your work is, design your area around those factors."

Moles said the trend now is to keep everything possible off your workspace and to not use things that take up space, like stacking trays. Instead of the trays, invest in things that can be put up away from the work surface, like wall pockets.

He added that he believes an ergonomic keyboard tray with a monitor lift is also a good investment, because it keeps a person from getting neck strain and allows him or her to be more efficient. "You should be able to look at your monitor without having to move your head at more than a five degree angle," he said.

Utilizing less space, according to Moles, can be as easy as using a different desk. "Instead of using a desk or table that's 30 inches deep, the typical size, use one that's 24 inches deep," he said. "The 24-inch desk is more than enough space to accommodate people," Moles said. "People just use those extra six inches for piling up stuff on their desk."

Don't just use a desk that's not as deep, but use one that's not as tall, Moles added. "Most people are using a desk that's 30 inches high," he said. "The best height is 27 3/4 high. It's a good height for writing and typing."

Another tip is, after one is finished with one project, put away all supplies before getting started on something else.

Moles said his company depends on the American National Standards Institute to help them determine what are the best products currently and what will make for a better and safer work environment.

As the owner of Moseley's, Jeff Moseley said there are several things that can be purchased to help get a workstation organized.

"We sell a computer monitor that sits below the work unit. It's not on the desk but under it. Not having the monitor on your desk gives you more space, and having it under the desk relieves eye strain because it's viewed through polarized glass that reduces the glare.

"The monitor can also be adjusted at an angle causing less neck strain. When you read a book, you don't look up, you look down. This monitor works the same way."

He said he also believes that a privacy screen can help give a worker more room.

"They stand from 18 to 30 inches high and attach to the workstation," Moseley said. "The screen is covered with fabric, and letter trays, calendars, in and out boxes and so on can be attached to it. This way, you're getting privacy and you have more room on the desk."

He added that the trend these days is the "workstation" rather than the desk. "In the past, people used desks and credenzas because they had to have space for a typewriter and adding machine and so on. Now that there's not as much call for those things, there's more work surface to work with."

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