Desk Setup Guide for Designers Working From Home

by Sachin


Working from home has become the norm for most people this year since the beginning of the pandemic. Lots of people have been trying to adjust to this setting while ensuring that they are still productive at work. 

However, for most designers, this has always been the case long before the pandemic. Designers have been in high demand in recent years, as technology constantly advances and is applied to virtually every sector in the world. The question now is how they can remain effective and create the best designs even without the corporate environment setting. 

The work from home setup is often a challenge for most people and this can either make or mar their work output. A 2012 study on the effects of telecommuting on productivity found that people performed “dull” tasks better in a controlled cubicle setting than they did in a less-structured remote environment. 

According to Glenn Dutcher, assistant professor at Ohio University, this is due to how the brain works, as you are likely to find random distractions more interesting such as walking your dog, rather than paying attention to the boring task before you. 

The study concluded that “the telecommuting environmental effects may have positive implications on the productivity of creative tasks but negative implications on the productivity of dull tasks”. Interestingly, the work of designers requires more creative tasks than dull tasks, which already gives them an edge for working from home.

However, there’s more to just doing creative tasks. The designer desk setup plays a huge role in how these creative tasks are carried out and also enhances the creativity to ensure better results. To make this easier, we have put together this guide to help with desk setup for designers working from home especially during this period.

Important Things to Consider

Before creating the ideal desk for designers, it is important to put certain things into consideration to ensure you are working towards an effective setup. Some of these things include:

1. Workflow

Start by having a clear vision of what this desk setup is for, to put your ideas together on how to begin. As a designer, you will need this desk for a lot of creative work as you work on various kinds of designs. It could also depend on the kind of designer you are. 

For example, a graphic designer desk setup could differ from a UX designer desk setup. Knowing what exactly your desk will be used for during your work will help you put together the perfect list of things that should be available on the desk to contribute to a seamless workflow. 

Some of the things you should consider to have a seamless workflow include writing materials, a pair of good headphones, a laptop stand, a cable management system, monitors, a USB hub, a quiet space, among other things.

2. Ergonomics

Ergonomics refers to the science of designing a workspace to improve how workers interact and work to yield effective results. It has been introduced to several workplaces in recent times, which several studies have shown to help reduce the risk of lower back pain or any form of musculoskeletal injuries while improving productivity at work.

Designers tend to spend long hours seated behind their desks, which could result in chronic lower back pain in the long run that may be detrimental to their health. To avoid the risk of this happening, it is advised that you invest in an ergonomic chair and table to help you maintain a correct posture while you work. 

Standing up to stretch and take walks in-between work also proves beneficial. Not only does it help improve focus but also reduces the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle such as heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and possible early death. 

Choose your ergonomics carefully to suit your needs. It is often advised that you opt for an adjustable chair and table, to allow you to adjust them accordingly to suit your convenience per time. The goal is to ensure that you are seated comfortably and not straining any part of your body to get the work done.

3. Organization

One of the best ways to get inspired as you work and boost your creativity is by keeping your desk organized as much as you can. Keep clutter away and keep items on the desk within reach. By doing this, you can easily tell where certain things are and reach for them whenever you need them, rather than getting distracted every time you are trying to look for something important. 

An international survey showed that information workers lose up to two hours a week fruitlessly searching for lost digital documents. This can be avoided if your documents are properly organized. Get filing cabinets or put shelves next to your desk to keep important files and do away with the ones you don’t need.

A recent study also found a strong connection between clutter and procrastination. With little or no clutter, you are less likely to procrastinate and rather get the work done on time. In the study, chronic procrastinators reported too much clutter interfering with the quality of their lives.

To avoid a regression on your creative process as a designer, you must reduce clutter as much as possible to give you a clear-thinking mind. 

Setting Up a Visually Appealing Desk

Setting up a workspace desk for designers has to be deliberate. As a designer, many things can impact your creativity, which is why your workspace has to be visually appealing enough to inspire you as you work. How do you go about this?

1. Play with Colors

Using the right splash of colors is a great way to give your desk an appealing and mood-enhancing look. Choose a color that resonates best with you or combine 3-5 colors that match and make the most of them for your work setup. 

You can work with a palette to have a consistent theme with the right blend. Preferably, opt for colors that match with what you already have; look at your wall paintings for example and work with that or repaint your walls to a preferred color if need be. 

Deciding the color scheme to use when designing your workspace goes a long way, as it subconsciously affects your brain and how you work. A 2018 review shows the effects of workplace color on worker’s mood, wellbeing, and other work-related outcomes. This is how important it is and you may want to take your time to ensure you get it right, as it could be a gamechanger for your productivity.

2. Lighting

Lighting in the workspace cannot be overemphasized, as poor lighting can lead to several conditions such as eye-strain, fatigue, headaches, stress, and accidents. According to this study, improved lighting in some factories resulted in a 10% increase in productivity and a 30% reduction in errors. With the right lighting for your workspace, you will be able to work in a productive setting and expect better results. 

To set up lighting in your workspace, you can use either natural lights or artificial lights. Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of natural lights in office spaces, as it helps improve satisfaction and productivity. Natural lights also help regulate the sleep-wake cycle; a 2017 study published by the National Sleep Foundation reported better quality sleep in workers who are exposed to high levels of natural light compared to those who had little to no exposure to natural lights. 

A Leesman survey also found that about 72 percent of workers saw natural light as an important feature, as they experienced higher levels of productivity and engagement with their work. So, let the sunlight in as much as you can and let that improve your drive throughout your workday. 

Artificial lights are also helpful to provide more light sources for your workplace. Get standard light bulbs with warmer temperatures to make you more comfortable as you work. Where you place the lights also matters, as you wouldn’t want to be distracted by harsh shadows when they are placed wrongly, which could make you strain your eyes even harder. 

3. Arts and Decorations

What better way to create a visually appealing desk work for a designer than to have cool arts and decorations in place? Apart from the inspiration that you will likely get from this, it is also a brilliant way to get yourself interested in work even when you don’t feel like it. 

Arts are effective in communicating a brand’s message and the culture of the workplace. However, for a work from home set up, it further drives self-inspiration and also says a lot about your personality. It helps improve your well-being and performance, which is important to help you get the job done efficiently. A study also shows that using landscape posters in an office setting can help with anger and stress management.

Decorating your desk has been proven effective, as it helps beautify your desk, add some life to it, and make you more productive. Apart from arts, there are other creative ways to decorate your desks, such as wallpapers, photo frames, a designer desk pad, desk accessories, and some personalized stationery, notebooks, and planners. You can also get some plants to add some green to the setting and to improve the air quality, as it helps remove harmful pollutants.

Blend your arts and decorations with the theme color of your workspace to get a beautiful result that will make you excited to work.

Essential Items Needed in Your Setup

There are numerous desk setup ideas for designers, but here are some essential items required to help you have a great work from home experience:

1. A Good Desk and a Relaxing Chair

Getting the right furniture for your workspace goes a long way. A good desk and a comfortable chair are the first essential things to get in a workspace, as they play a huge role in how productive you’ll be. You can also reduce your risk of musculoskeletal pain, especially in the neck, shoulders, and lower back, which could pose serious health risks. 

When choosing a desk, opt for one that is large enough to provide your desired work surface. This often depends on what you’ll be putting on the desk; for example, if you plan to use two monitors and a laptop, you would need a larger desk compared to someone who only has to work with their laptop. Also, look at the technology needs, drawer storage, and size of the desk to ensure it suits your needs.

Choosing the right office chair is one of the most important things to consider from a work from home setup, as it contributes a great deal to your productivity and health. While choosing, it is often advisable to go for a chair with adjustable height and backrest, so you can adjust it to suit your body type and get the correct posture. Check for lumbar support and breathable material with sufficient padding, to ensure you are comfortable as much as possible.

A good desk and chair are great investments and while you may want to work with a small budget, consider how this will benefit you in the long run and go for the quality. 

2. A Good Laptop or PC

You most likely already have a laptop of your own but if you don’t, consider getting a good laptop or PC that will match your workload. To get the most of a laptop, look at the screen resolution, dedicated graphics card, RAM, processor, and a web camera. These key elements can determine your workflow and effectiveness. Do your research and go for the best specs that align with your budget.


Setting up the ideal work from home space for designers isn’t all that complicated. You can get inspiration from the setup of other designers to create yours. A great start could be this compilation of 13 designers who shared their work from up setup and tips. Put the tips together and use this guide to come up with your ideal desk setup and you’re good to go.


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