Desks and beyond: from cubicles to modular workstations 

Office Workstations

​Office workstations are basically desks where employees sit (or stand) to do their work. However, workstations can be so much more than just a desk. Workstations typically consist of a working surface (such as a desk or table), a seat or chair, and the equipment and tools necessary for individual job responsibilities, often including a computer. The design and setup of office workstations may vary depending on employee roles, company culture, and other needs. The goal is to provide a functional and comfortable space that facilitates productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being.

Contact us if you are interested in purchasing any of these workstations or are looking for alternate designs/configurations.

Office workstation

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What’s in a Workstation?

​You are likely to find the following elements within the standard office workstation:

Desk or Table:

The primary surface upon which employees place computers or laptops, audio devices, personal belongings, and other items (hopefully a plant!). Desks come in many shapes and sizes.


Workstations are often equipped with ergonomic chairs that provide comfort and support during long hours. However, standing desks have become quite popular; with a standing-desk option, employees can spend some time sitting and some time on their feet.

Computer and Accessories:

A computer is an essential tool for most modern workstations. Accessories, including a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, are part of most workstations.

Cord Management:

When there are multiple electronic devices required, workstations often incorporate cord-management solutions. These solutions keep wires and cables organized, preventing clutter and reducing tripping hazards.


Options such as drawers, filing cabinets, and shelves help employees organize work items and other personal belongings.


Adequate lighting is essential for productivity and comfort. Workstations may utilize adjustable desk lamps or overhead lighting.


Some workstations, such as cubicles, are partitioned using panels or dividers to create privacy and reduce distractions.

Workstations Joyce Contract Interiors

Types of Workstations

“Workstation” is a broad term. There are a number of different workstation types to choose among. In selecting the workstation type that best suits your needs, there is a range of factors to consider, from office layout to company culture to employee needs. Here are several popular workstation types:

Computer Workstations:

Height adjustable workstationss

These workstations are designed specifically for tasks that rely heavily on computer usage. They typically include a desk or table with ample space for a computer or laptop, keyboard, mouse, and other accessories. Computer workstations often have cord-management features, adjustable monitor stands, and ergonomic chairs to support long hours of computer-based work.

Bullpen Workstations:

Workstation - height adjustable

Bullpen workstations feature an open layout where employees work in a shared space without physical barriers, such as walls or cubicle partitions, between them. Instead, walls surround the team within the bullpen; these workstations resemble a large multi-person cubicle space. The bullpen design promotes collaboration, communication, and a sense of belonging within the team.

Collaborative Workstations:

Workstation with Hi - Low panels

These workstations are designed to facilitate teamwork and collaboration. They often include shared tables or desks, open layouts, and flexible seating arrangements. There is a growing interest in collaborative zones that aim for comfort; these spaces are designed to invoke the feeling of being in a living room. The architecture, design, and furniture industry often calls this concept resimercial space. 

Benching Workstations:

4 person workstation

Benching workstations, also known as benching systems or benching desks, feature a long, shared work surface for multiple employees. They are designed to maximize collaboration, flexibility, and space efficiency within an office environment. Benching workstations are particularly popular in open office layouts and in organizations that emphasize teamwork and communication.

Cubicle Workstations:

6 person workstation

Cubicle workstations are individual enclosed workspaces that are created via partitions or panels. These workstations provide some privacy and help reduce noise distractions. Cubicles often include a desk, chair, storage options, and panel-mounted accessories, such as shelves or bulletin boards.

Hot-Desking Workstations:


Hot-desking workstations are shared workspaces without assigned seating. Instead, employees choose an available desk or workstation upon arrival at the office each morning. This setup promotes flexibility, encourages interaction among different teams or departments, and optimizes office-space utilization.

Home-Office Workstations:

Home Workstation

With the rise of remote work and flexible work arrangements, home-office workstations have gained prominence. These workstations are set up in employees’ homes to replicate a productive work environment. Home-office workstations vary depending on available space, personal preferences, and budget, but they typically include a desk, chair, computer setup, and other necessary equipment.

Specialized Workstations:

office furniture trends

Certain industries or job roles require specialized workstations tailored to specific tasks. For example, graphic designers may have workstations with high-resolution monitors, drawing tablets, and color-calibrated displays. Architects or engineers may have workstations with large drafting tables and specialized software. These workstations are designed to meet the unique requirements of the profession or role.

Reception Desks:

Reception Workstation

Reception desks serve as the central point of an office where visitors, guests, and clients are greeted and helped. They are typically located in the main lobby or entrance area and are staffed by a receptionist or other front-desk personnel.

Private Offices:

Private office workstation

Private offices are individual workspaces with dedicated and enclosed areas for employees or higher-level executives. A private office is a separate room or area within an office space and offers privacy and seclusion away from the general workspace.

Modular Workstations:

Modular Workstation

A modular workstation is made up of several individual components that can be assembled and arranged in different configurations to suit different needs and preferences. Modular workstations can be designed in a variety of shapes, sizes, and layouts.

Standing Workstations:

height adjustable workstations

Standing workstations are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer employees the choice to work standing up or sitting down. These workstations typically feature adjustable-height desks.

Key Considerations for Workstations

Open Workstations vs. Cubicles

Will a workstation be surrounded by cubicle walls or out in the open? Workstations within cubicle walls were very popular before the open-office movement substituted in benching workstations and other options without walls. Cubicles then made a comeback as employees communicated that they valued privacy. In today’s evolving hybrid office environment, it is still unclear what workstation style will be preferred. Early indications suggest that the new hybrid office environment prioritizes collaboration above all when employees are in the office.

Cubicle Design
Open Workstations

Maximizing Space vs. Employee well-being

Employers’ primary goals used to be to get the most “bang for their buck” on real estate costs and to maximize the office layout and workstation design to accommodate as many employees as possible. Over time, thinking shifted to place higher value on employee well-being, comfort, and happiness. Employees are more important to a business than office space; employees are typically more expensive as well. Today, offices are less likely to cram in workstations and are more likely to focus on creating an inviting workplace.


Productivity vs. Comfort/Creativity

Should a workstation be built for optimal productivity or is it more important to foster creative thinking? That depends on who is using the workstation. This trade-off is a great example that demonstrates that office/workstation design is never “one-size-fits-all.” The ideal workstation for an employee in sales or data entry is not likely to be the ideal workstation for a writer or designer.

Modular and Customized Workstations

Today’s workplace is becoming increasingly dynamic; as a result, more emphasis is being placed on the flexibility of office layouts and furniture. Modular workstations can ensure some flexibility in adapting a layout for changing needs. The growing emphasis on employee happiness also encourages more customized workstations.

3 person workstation

What is the standard size of an office workstation?

As it often is in office design and furniture, the answer is “it depends.” Here are “typical” dimensions for a workstation:

  • Desk width – between 48 and 72 inches
  • Desk depth – between 24 and 36 inches
  • Desk height – between 28 and 30 inches
  • Total workspace per employee – between 150 and 325 square feet

Employees Needs

Employee needs play a significant role in determining the workstation type best suited for each person. Individuals have unique work preferences, job requirements, and physical considerations that influence their workstation requirements.

  • Job tasks and job requirements heavily influence the workstation type that is needed. For example, employees who work on computers primarily may require workstations with ample desk space, adjustable monitor stands, and ergonomic keyboard and mouse setups. On the other hand, employees who engage in creative work, like designers or architects, may need specialized workstations with drafting tables, drawing boards, or specific software and equipment.
  • Collaboration and communication are both important for teams that frequently engage in group discussions, brainstorming sessions, or project collaborations. These employees may benefit from shared workstations or collaborative work areas that encourage easy interaction and idea-sharing.

  • Employee privacy and concentration needs may necessitate a setup with minimal distractions to ensure that employees can perform their tasks effectively. In these cases, private offices, soundproof cubicles, or designated quiet work areas may provide the necessary seclusion and concentration.
  • Technology requirements are important considerations, when workstations that can accommodate specialized equipment or multiple monitors are needed, for example. Workstations may require additional space or specific connectivity options to support the technology setup.

To accommodate individuals with disabilities or mobility challenges, accessibility considerations result in features such as wheelchair access, adjustable-height furniture, and assistive technologies.

Workstation design

Office-workstation design is complicated with employee/employer/industry limitations, requirements, preferences, budgets, etc. JCI’s experience makes the planning, design, selection, installation and setup smooth and easy. Call us today or contact us at sales@joycecontract.com to learn more about our services.

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