How Much Space Do You Need Behind A Desk?

Whether you are planning your first home office or just setting up a desk in your room for your computer, you’ll want to know how much space you need behind the desk for a chair. In this article I answer this question as well as many others relating to desk space requirements.

So how much space do you need behind a desk? You need about 3 feet of space (92 cm) behind your desk for a chair. 3 feet gives you enough room to pull the chair away from the desk to sit or stand up. If you have a standing desk, 3 feet is just enough to push the chair all the way back and stand in front of it, but I would recommend 4 feet in this case.

For businesses, the desk location is quite an important consideration because the fire code comes into effect. Businesses have to ensure there is enough space to safely exit during a fire. While your desk at home may not need to adhere to the code, it is safer if you do. I talk about how best to implement fire safety in your desk location as well as other desk space questions in the rest of this article.

How To Tell If A Room Is Big Enough For A Desk?

If you will be placing the desk in the middle of the room, a good rule of thumb is to make sure there is 3 feet of space on each side. Measure the distance from the edge of the desk to the closest piece of furniture in that direction. This may be a wall, a cabinet, bookshelf, etc.

While you can often make spaces under 3 feet work, you should check the fire code for where you live to make sure you at least have the recommended space to exit the room. For example, the international fire code section 1024.2 requires 3 feet width for exit passageways for occupancy loads under 50. While this may not directly apply to residential spaces, it’s a good rule of thumb to follow since your safety is the concern.

If you place the desk against the wall, make sure there is at least 3 feet of space behind you for your chair to be pushed back. Generally, if your desk is against the wall, your back will be to the open space in the room and this won’t be an issue.

Of course I need to mention that you should take into consideration the needs of the person(s) using the desk as well. Persons with disability, for example, may require additional space to maneuver a wheel chair behind a desk.

How Much Space Do You Need Between A Desk and A Wall?

If your desk will be setup so that you sit between the desk and a wall, the amount of space you have in between is an important consideration. Too little space will make you feel uncomfortable, and restrict you from being able to adjust your sitting position or stretch.

It will also make it incredibly difficult to get in and out of your chair as well as rotate your swivel chair. One of the most annoying things that can happen if you don’t have enough space for your swivel chair against the wall is it will rub against the wall and wear out your paint or even discolor it.

For these reasons, its important that you have enough space to push the chair back and sit in it without it touching the wall. This distance will vary depending on your size and well as the size of the chair, but a good rule of thumb is 3 feet.

What About A Standing Desk?

When using a standing desk, you are sometimes sitting down and sometimes standing. When standing, the chair is pushed back and you stand in the space between the desk and the chair. Often times, you want a little bit of extra moving space to stretch around, and move your feet.

Not to mention, if you use a standing desk accessory such as an anti fatigue mat, balance board, or Bosu ball you’ll want enough space for that in between your desk and chair.

For a standing desk, I recommend at least 4 feet of space between the desk and the wall.

How Much Space Is Required For A Workstation?

While this answer is dependent on the size of your desk, typical executive style desks are at least 60 inches (152 cm) by 30 inches (76 cm). This is not a standard desk size, but a rough number. Be sure to calculate the space required for your desk size using the formula below.

Take the desk size and add 36 inches (3 feet) in all directions. This is the size of space required in your room to comfortably fit a workstation if the desk will be in the center of the space. For the typical executive style desk, this is 132 inches (335 cm) by 92 inches (234 cm). If your desk is against a wall, or a corner, you should just add 3 feet of space in the other directions.

What Depth Should A Desk Be?

The minimum desk depth to fit a monitor and a keyboard in front of it with some wiggle room is 24 inches. However, you ideally want 28 inches or more so you can sit at the correct distance to the monitor and still have room to place your keyboard at an ergonomic distance. I talk about this in my post on how to keep a healthy distance from your monitor.

With 28 to 30 inches, you can position your monitor and keyboard and mouse ergonomically and still have some left over room for taking notes or writing without needing to reposition everything because you don’t have enough desk space.

What Depth Should A Desk Be For 27 Inch Monitor?

A 27 inch monitor is slightly larger than the standard 24 inch monitors nowadays. Therefore, you’ll probably want to move it slightly further back from you. A 24 inch desk is the minimum depth that will work and let you sit at an ergonomic distance from the monitor with adequate space to put your keyboard and mouse in an ergonomic position as well.

The ideal depth I would recommend is 28 – 30 inches, as this will give you more play room and ensure you aren’t pressed for space.

What Is The Average Width Of A Desk?

The average width of an executive style desk is 60 inches (152 cm). This desk width gives you enough space for you computer as well as room on the sides for writing, documents and decorations.

What Size Desk Do I Need For Dual Monitors?

The ideal desk width for dual monitors is 63 inches (160 cm) wide and 28 inches (71 cm) deep. I have a full article about this topic here.