If you take a walk through any office environment, you’ll see people tend to fall into two categories: organized and disorganized. Organized people have pristine desks that follow the rule: a place for everything and everything in its place. Disorganized people place everything wherever it fits. Sometimes, you have to sift through the stacks of paper and clutter to find the desk.
Regardless of your category, there’s one area of your desk where neatness and organization count: the floor. Underneath your standing desk, along with your purse or computer bag, is a tangle of cables and wires that make your height adjustable desk function.
The idea of organizing all your wires and cables seems natural. With the growing demand for standing desks, proper cable management becomes critical.
As you’ll see, there are many possible solutions to manage your cables and wires. Each of these solutions has benefits, but they also have limitations.
What Happens Without Using Cable Management?
Cramming them behind a set of drawers or computer tower isn’t a good idea. Several things could happen to your dangling cables and wire.
Cables Don’t Last as Long
Not using a cable management system with a sit stand desk reduces the lifespan of a wire by stretching them or exposing them to heat. Cable manufacturers restrict bending their cables for a reason. If a wire bends too far, damage occurs inside where you can’t see it.
Also, having loose hanging cables opens up possibilities of your foot or drawer getting caught. The chance of entanglement increases with a standing desk. The occasional tug may not initially cause a problem, but one will arise and eventually require either wire replacement or repair.
Overheating caused by blocked airflow paths damages electronics. Blockages cause cooling fans to work harder when trying to keep warm air away. These blockages result in the premature failure of your expensive equipment.
Benefits of a Cable Management System
Cables Live Longer
Proper cable management, planned from the beginning, ensures adequate cable care.
Devices are much easier to maintain with cable management. Assembling all the wires and cables near the equipment provides easy access. Grouping cables together offer easy identification making maintenance straightforward and easy.
Using a cable management system reduces the risk of disconnecting a cable by mistake. If you’re reaching for a cable that is inside the tangled mess, you run the risk of grabbing a knot of wires by mistake. When you pull on that mess, it’s possible to disconnect another cable accidentally.
A Cleaner Look
A cable management system also improves the aesthetics of your work area. A work area where each cable is in place and accessible reflects a well-managed workstation. This cleaner look is best illustrated when a standing desk extends to its highest point.
Cable Management Solutions
There are many ways to support wires under your adjustable height desk. In no particular order, here are some of the most popular solutions. These solutions fall into five categories:
- Cable Support Systems
- Cord Organizers
- DIY Cable Clutter Solutions
- Cable Management Systems
The most basic option for controlling any cables at your sit-to-stand desk are standard cable or zip ties. Any hardware store, shopping center, and most gas stations sell cable ties. A thin strip of material goes through a hole. That material holds its position due to nested teeth along its length. These teeth allow it to tighten, but not loosen.
Easy to find and cheap, cable ties have many applications and come in four types.
The Four Types of Cable Ties
- Nylon: Nylon cable ties are the classic and most common version. Nylon cable ties come in many different colors. They work great if you have many different cables and you need to identify them.
- Reusable: Reusable cable ties have a method to release the teeth from the latching, making them reusable.
- Mounted Head: If you need to bundle a group of wires or cables together, then hang the bundle, use mounted head cable ties.
- Metal: Metal cable ties are more for industrial uses and work best for high heat applications and made of either aluminum or stainless steel.
In addition to cable ties, there are organizer straps, clips, and clamps. Organizer straps resemble reusable cable ties and come in a variety of styles. It’s common to find them using hook and loop material that makes them easy to reuse. Because of that, organizer straps may be a better option in comparison to zip ties.
Any smooth surface works with clips, which typically attached using adhesive pads. Attach the clips along the best path and insert the cable. The clip holds the cable firmly in place and removes quickly.
Clamps are an option for combining your cables and routing them out-of-the-way.
Cable Support Systems
There are three primary cable support systems: raceways, wire ducts, and braided sleeving wraps.
Raceways, or a raceway system, use an enclosed conduit that creates a path to store cables or wires underneath a standing desk. A raceway protects cables and wires from humidity, heat, and entanglements. A wire duct is much like a raceway. Wires and cables slide into the wire duct and provide convenient and easy access. Braided sleeving wraps stretch around cables and wires protecting them from damage. Sleeves come in many styles and lengths and are more flexible than conduit.
The three types of cord organizers are cable boxes, spoolers, and bundlers.
A cable box hides loose and messy cords inside a box placed under your adjustable height desk. Typically, cable boxes are large enough to include your power strip or surge protector. A cable box has outlets on two sides.
If you’ve seen a garden hose rolled up a spindle, then you know how a cable spool works. Excess cables or wires are rolled up and stored out-of-the-way.
A cable bundler looks like an exaggerated comb with large teeth on its back. Each tooth separates and organizes cables. This separation keeps them from getting tangled with each other.
DIY Cable Clutter Solutions
A quick search on the internet provides a variety of DIY solutions for cable management solutions. We could spend a day exploring options, but we’ll limit examples to four.
To use binder clips as a cable organizer, thread the wire through the wire portion of the clip and attach the binder clip to a table. (Refer to the lower right part of the above image.) A shoebox corrals wires and cables with a little creativity. On two sides of a shoe box, cut two holes. Feed a cable through both holes and collect the excess cable inside the box and close the lid.
It may sound odd, but paper towel rolls are another low-tech, yet efficient way to manage your wires and cables. Use the rolls as a conduit and write the type of cable that roll is protecting. Slicing a channel along the side of a piece of foam pipe insulation accomplishes the same thing.
Attaching a wire basket or shelf on the underside of your desks is another method of cable management. Collect the extra wires and let them sit inside the basket.
Cable Management Systems
Using cable ties looks good until you need to change a cable. You have to raise your standing desk to reach the cables, then cut all the cable ties, attach the new cable, and re-attach several new cable ties. Cramming all your cables in a raceway gets the cables off the floor, but nothing is holding the cables in place. You still need to plug things in. Depending upon the location of a power strip or outlet, there are still power cables that hang down. These hanging cables look bad, and you always run the risk of snagging wires with your foot or a drawer.
If you decide to use a complete cable management system under your standing desk, you’ll find they are more expensive compared to other solutions. Using such a system provides several advantages over most of these solutions.
The Box Cable Management System
RightAngle Products has an example of a complete wire management system, called the Box. The Box discreetly secures under your desk and collects your cables and cords in a single, tidy place keeping everything off the floor. After inserting the front shield, your bowl of cable spaghetti is out of sight and out of mind whether or not your standing desk is at its highest or lowest level.
Featuring six cable portals, and made from 20-gauge steel, the box is built to last and holds up to 25 pounds. With over 7 inches of height and 4 inches in width, you have plenty of room for all your cables, wires, and power supplies. In addition to removing the wire spaghetti from the floor, the box doubles as a modesty panel for your sit stand desk.
These are some solutions for a messy cable problem, but your mileage varies. Repurposing binder clips and paper towel rolls eliminate some of the wire clutter, yet looks cheap. Upgrading to wire clamps and cable ties seem better, but when a cable needs changing, this solution becomes a hassle. A complete cable management system, while looking neat and organizing your cables, is expensive.
In the end, the best solution is what works for you and your standing desk.
What Do You Think?
Do you use a cable management system that we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments.