Cable management – hiding cables at the office desk:

Working at the office is quite inconceivable without electronic devices such as a PC or laptop, monitor and printer as well as the office light and a shredder. But all these devices have one characteristic in common too – their connection cables.

For one single computer there can be up to ten items which leads to a tangle of power cables, data cables, and the connections to the mouse and co. This can only be controlled with a careful strategy.

Not only does cable clutter look untidy and unprofessional, more importantly it is dangerous and wastes precious time. In the following, we want to make some suggestions for reasons of cable chaos, how to face it with a specified cable management at the office desk and also provide some successful solutions.

Tangle of cables can get dangerous

Every cable is fixed in a certain way at his ends, whether at a wall socket, a jack, or a cable gland. If it lays between those junctures loosely as a loop, it is regarded as a permanent tripping hazard. If it is located at busy paths, its cable sleeve can be damaged. Electric shocks in a high-voltage power cable and faults in devices caused by a short-circuit in a low voltage or data cable are quite common.

But danger leading from forming loops also takes place at spaces only slightly frequented. Even opening the window behind one’s office desk can have the consequence of entangling the feet into a loop. This will not be noticed until the keyboard or lamp gets pulled and suddenly crashes onto the floor.

Cable clutter wastes our precious time

Office technology is mobile, that’s why printer and router, chargers and AC adapters are often transported from one place to another. If the tangle of cables evolves into an absolute mess by now, disentangling will be even more difficult. Some cable even has to be removed from its connected jack in order to untie it from the other ones. After getting the knots removed, there is disenchantment. Which cable was connected to which jack? This will lead to inevitable frustration and faulty circuits.

Tangle of cables will distract us

Kabelchaos im Büro

A chaos of tangling cables in the office is not unusual. That’s why a good cable management is essential!
Picture: © djama /

A well-organized workplace appears welcoming and is enjoyable to work at. But if there are AC adapters and other cabling laying tangled up on the office desk, we will always be busy thinking about disentangling. The USB stick quickly slips under the tangle of cables, we have to look for it and have to think about where we used it lately. We rather wanted to get back to work but now fret about something actually avoidable.

Here are two suggested solutions with which we can already minimize the cable clutter prior or without any extra effort:

Tips for cable management at the office desk

Important is to use rather short instead of long cables. Many of our devices in the office communication are connected with cables pre-assembled. Connecting cables that get send from the manufacturer of the device, cannot be cut down. Most others, whether USB, electricity or data cables etc. can be bought at a specialist retailer available in different lengths.

We really do ourselves a favour when buying cables only as long as we need them for our workplace. Every single meter of less cable not only reduces the purchase but also avoids the tangle of cables.

Connection points at short distance improve the cable management: before organizing a workplace, we always come up with some sort of detailed concept first. This should not only contain the devices required but also their point of supply.

The effort for making preliminary plans concerning the required quantity of SCHUKO sockets, data and telephone jacks and other connections is extremely small. Every cable that doesn’t have to be laid individually through the room, lowers the risk of having an unmanageable cable clutter.

Options for cable management – some possibilities for organizing cables

There are the following options for cable management:

  • Bundling orbital with cable ties
  • Cable form with cable ties
  • Cable form with cable conduit
  • Cable installation in skirting board
  • Cable installation in canal on-floor / cable ramp
  • Underfloor box and outlet box
  • Cable canals

Bundling orbital with cable ties

We may consider that cable ties are the ultimate for cable management. It is actually very easy to bundle all required cables into one equally big ring and fix them with so-called “straps”. But you soon will be disillusioned if one of these cables have to be removed because for example one device should be placed elsewhere.

For this option of fixing, you need to know that bundling all cables in one ring means they have to stay like that for a long period.

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Cable form with cable ties

For this option of cable management all cables are laying alongside each other and get bundled with cable ties in equal distance of maximum 20cm. The advantage is that every cable can be removed at the bundling’s position where it’s needed.

Besides, it’s the same long-term request of bundling as for the option above.

Cable form with cable conduit

The specialist retailer for cable management supplies so-called cable conduits for laying several flexible cables together. They are made of plastics and come in two different ways. One of them are spiral hoses that are spirally wrapped around the cables arranged as a cable form, as their name says. They often get called spiral cables too.

But in order to remove a cable, the whole cable conduit has to be unwound again. Alternatively, there are professional cable conduits with easy click-closure at intervals. They partly enable reopening if one cable has to be removed.

One big advantage is that these cable conduits are very cheap.

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Cable installation in skirting board

There are several manufacturers that supply canals of skirting boards at an electronics retailer, online or at a well-stocked DIY superstore as well. They are made of plastics and have a removeable top section which can be laid instead of the skirting board. With them also come apparatuses with SCHUKO sockets or empty enclosures that can be equipped with data and telephone jacks or other components if required.

If those canals of skirting boards are already adequately dimensioned when being installed, as well loosely hanging connection cables can be accommodated inside them. Another advantage of this way of installation is that laying is available and modifiable at any time. For this reason, cable management is made much easier here.

Cable installation in canal on-floor/ cable ramp

It can’t be avoided that loose cable installation passes through office paths. For example, at doorways or on the way to an office desk that is placed in the middle of the room. Here is the risk of tripping over or even damaging some cables particularly high.

This problem can be solved with a floor cable duct (cable ramp) which is available at an electronics retailer, online or at a well-stocked DIY superstore too. It also has a bottom and a removeable top section which ensures a solid foothold and is made of plastic, aluminium or stainless steel. The floor cable duct can be laid visibly or e.g., under a textile floor covering. It also has the advantage of accessing and exchanging the installed cables at any time.

Underfloor box and outlet box

Underfloor systems can’t be realized everywhere but are functional when being installed during the shell construction phase or later on in the cavity floor. They exist of canals, mostly made of galvanized sheet steel and apparatuses with SCHUKO sockets, free options for equipping or cable outlets. Thanks to them, every supply cable can be brought where it is needed.

Cable canals

One option existing in many different sizes are cable canals. If made of plastic, they are named cable routing conduit. They can be installed on the wall behind the office desk or at its bottom. With them, cable management can be realized pretty well because long cables can be laid in a loop too.

Even more comfortable are parapet channels consisting of plastics or painted sheet steel. They get installed below the windowsills. Therefore, extensive cabling can be accomplished between several workspaces too. Parapet channels provide the most capacity for cables and can also be equipped with sockets that are part of the system, as well as with empty gear trays for other components.


Cable management for height-adjustable office desks

Cable management: organising and hiding cables at the office desk – tips for reducing cable clutter 2

An office desk adjustable in height with a cable sleeve

When working on a height-adjustable office desk, it is not only important implementing cable management with one of the shown methods of installation or bundling in order to get everything looking tidy.

Cabling also consists of one fixed and one mobile part. Fixed means that all cabling between the separate devices occurs under the tabletop through cables, cable ties or cable conduits. The mobile part contains all cables guided from the floor, ceiling, or wall to the office desk. They have to follow any movement of the desk’s height. For that, specialized cable sleeves work well.

Their ends consist of shelfs that can be unscrewed at the office desk’s bottom as well as at the spot where it supplies. The cables are guided loosely within one of these cable sleeves and they remain within them when loops are formed due to lowering the table.

Laying cables simply and quickly at the office desks bottom

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Cable management at the office desk: in this case, cabling runs through an integrated system of cable tray at the office desk’s bottom.

With some office desks there is also a system of cable tray supplied or rather can be ordered optionally. Often, it is whether a u-shaped, open canal or it contains several brackets to hang in.

Both systems are bolted at the desk’s bottom as well. This is an easy and quick solution for the cable management at office desks where cables are out of reach. Since the cables are loose, there is always the risk for them to fall out or getting pulled out accidentally.

Amusing cable management

Some people are pretty creative. So why not screw cable clips on the wall and merge all cables too long into one abstract figure. Imagination has no limits. But this creative implementation is just as completely appropriate for the realization of a considerable cable management whose function it is to retain from any dangers.

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The post "Cable management: organising and hiding cables at the office desk – tips for reducing cable clutter" written by:

Stephan Forstmann

Experte für Home Office und gesunde Büroarbeit

Stephan is from Dresden, Germany. He is a founding member of Deskonia since 2009.

Stephan is a home office worker since 2013 and became a home office expert. He shares his experience and publishes various tutorials for a better life at the office und creates tutorials on topics like ergonomics and communication.

In private, he is also very passionate about photography. He loves to chat about photography-gear and composition an. Stephan also published a lot of photography tutorials.

If you want to get in touch with Stephan, you can easily reach him via e-mail:

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