Since lockdown all office fit out companies in the UK have been forced to rethink their design process. Maintaining social distancing in line with government guidelines hasn’t just affected office layouts though.

No, it has also impacted on office furniture – desks are bigger, for instance, to give the individual more space when working. A bit like their own ‘privacy shield,’ the bigger the desk, the more social distancing there is going on.

But it’s not just about ‘giant desks.’ Other designers have come up with clever ideas for desks in different locations, for instance. In this article we’ll highlight the portable home desk and the sturdy desk for when you want to take your work outside – with your desk, rather than just your laptop. Then there are examples of how a culture can shape an office space, such as our first example, designed by one of Japan’s leading office fit out companies:


Kneeling Alternative

Office Fit Out Companies

Yes, the seats at co-working space Tokyo Square Garden are indeed low, but so too are the desks – especially the green cushion seats (or seiza mats). The desks are perfectly primed though to allow workers to stretch their legs out underneath the surface. And they are at least one foot apart, so ideal for social distancing measures.


Circular Seating

Fit out

Ok these giant circular cubby holes aren’t exactly desks, but you can view them as such if you consider the employee here has taken her laptops in so is working (using her knees to prop up her pad). Part of the office furniture at office space provider WeWork in New York, they are definitely waaaay cooler than an old-fashioned 80s-style cubicle. And, being in your own wooden ‘bubble’ it’s also the perfect way to stay socially-isolated.


Stykka Home Desk

cardboard desk

If anyone was going to come up with a beautifully simple flat-pack style desk to work from home with, it would – of course – be one of those minimalist- thinking but highly effective office fit out companies and furniture designers from Scandinavia.

Stykka’s #StayTheFuckHome Desk was designed during lockdown to help individuals self-isolate safely at home, it is made from cardboard so incredibly lightweight and easy to move around. You can, in fact, simply fold it up and store it in a cupboard when not in use. And don’t worry about the desk coming apart – it’s held together using cable ties.

Stykka, from Denmark, sell the desk in its various components but, very generously, they will also direct to just the template so that you can go off and make it yourself – if you have your own laser cutter, that is. And the best bit? The template is free and can be downloaded online. Office fit out companies take note!


Portable Desk

The Nōmada desk can also be folded up and, this time, carried out to the garden, beach, woods – or wherever you fancy working, really.
Like the designers at Styyka, architect Enrique Tovar from Mexico designed his desk as a response to home working during the pandemic. The name Nōmada comes from the Latin term Nomad ie someone who moves around easily from place to place. And indeed, its used by today’s digital nomads who have indeed been banned from their work environments and forced to find other spots from which to work.
Made from recycled oak with a white laminated polymer slab on top the legs fit into the desk top and a handle makes it easy to carry around. A nice touch is that the user can write on the laminate desk board with water-based pens and the text later wiped off. Pens etc can be kept in a compartment on the desktop.


Shell Desk

We all need our privacy from time to time – and here’s how you can get it in the office. The Duplex Workspace, by designer Sophie Kirkpatrick allows you to simply and discreetly lift the roof for those quiet moments of contemplation (or secret journal writing). Comprised of ash wood, this light little desk has a space at the front where the shell-like roof simply folds back in to. Go on, be your own tortoise…


Work/Life Balance Desk

Not so much a desk, as a whole home office in a box, these two hidden home offices look like smart cupboards from the outside. And, in fact, both are specially built-in cupboards. The blue version, by designers 2LG Studio, sits in the kitchen and the even teensier white office, which has a foldaway door, sits in the owner’s bedroom.
Built-in cupboard desks are a brilliant way to keep your office papers and other must-haves tucked away where no-one else can disturb them or, worse still, use them for writing lists on. And, when you’re finished work at the end of the day, you can just literally just shut your back on the whole lot and go and pour yourself a well-deserved glass of vino.


White is Alright

This very lovely, clean-lined and contemporary desk is deceptive when it comes to storage. Lift the side flaps, for instance, and you will find space to store pens, paper clips and other stationery stuff. The front also pulls out to make it a great place for putting notebooks, photos etc.
By another Danish design brand, this time called Umage, it is produced using solid oak, plywood veneer and steel. The Ambitions Desk is narrow enough to fit neatly into most rooms – and definitely stylish enough to enhance them.


Ladder Desk

We have had ladder shelves, ladder book cases and ladder plant pot holders for some time now – really, it was only a matter of time before we found ourselves with a Ladder Desk too.
A big space-saver, this 65cm wide off-the-shelf desk unit (from one of our bigger – and more well-known – high street stores) has upper shelves for storing folders and notepads (there’s always room for some trailing ivy or similar) and the drawer unit is great for Knick knacks. Just make surely it is securely attached to the wall in the first place…


Barred Desk

And, on a similar note, but only with black pipes this time – and a more vertical positioning – there is the Solomon Desk. More stylish than the Ladder Desk and, no doubt, less prone to unexpected movement, this home desk has an industrial design look thanks to the black powder coated steel sprayed onto the pipes. With its two slim shelves and larger desk area, it would look great anywhere in the home – even the kitchen.

Get in touch for great office design ideas

If you happen to be looking for inspiration for your new office fit out, then do get in touch with the team here at Steampunk. We have decades of expertise in the industry and are all trained designers, joiners and planers.

We are aware that the government’s new (and oft-changing) social distancing measures have proved challenging to many offices, and in a variety of sectors, out there. But while there are still companies looking for safe ways to allow staff to return to working normally back in the office we are happy to help. Why not utilise our team’s expertise today by calling us on: 0800 197 2922 or contacting us directly via our website at We look forward to hearing from you!