Hideaway Computer Desks Buying Guide

hideaway computer desks buying guideContents

Introduction

What are hideaway desks?

Why choose hideaway desks?

Hideaway versus standard desks

Starting a business

Setting up a home office

Top tips for being productive when working at home

Questions to ask before shopping for a hideaway desk

Choosing a hideaway desk

General best practices when buying office furniture

Further information

Introduction

When you’re working from a home office, space is often at a premium, especially if you need to use a room that has another purpose. If you’re looking for a way to have a working desk without spoiling the appearance of your room, hideaway computer desks could be the ideal solution.

These are solid, hardwood units that look like classic stylish sideboards when not in use. Open the front doors and you have access to you PC tower unit, printer, scanner, router, paperwork and other items. Drop down the front hinged panel to reveal your keyboard and mouse, and the panel acts as a desktop surface.

These are an ideal way to give yourself a workstation that can be tidily hidden from view when work stops and living starts, helping to not only keep your work items safe and secure, but also helping you to ensure your work practice doesn’t intrude on other members of your household.

In this buying guide, we’ll look at hideaway desks in a bit more detail, including the functionality they offer and why they are beneficial in a home office. We’ll also look at a comparison between hideaway and standard desks.

We’ll then take a look at some tips and useful information on small businesses and home offices, from launching your new start-up business to setting up a home office and how to be more productive when you’re working from home.

It’s a good idea to be prepared when making a significant furniture purchase for your home office, so we’ll give you a list of questions to ask before deciding on an item and some information that can help you to choose a model, from material to size and layout.

While it’s never been easier to shop around online, you have to protect yourself from scams and businesses who may not be what they seem, so we’ll also give you our best practice on choosing a supplier and making a purchase. This includes detailed advice on shopping online and looking out for hidden charges.

Buying furniture for a home office can be tricky and you want to make sure your purchase is a great investment for your small business. By using this hideaway desks buying guide and following our advice and tips, you’ll find it a lot easier to make a great decision.

What are hideaway desks?

Hideaway desks are ideal for the home office. They are space saving pieces that incorporate a large number of features designed for maximum storage and minimum clutter.

These desks are solid units that have front doors and a panel. When not in use, the piece looks like a stylish sideboard unit, but inside it has shelving and drawers designed to hold your PC, peripherals and equipment. The front panel is hinged and has space for a keyboard and mouse; when the panel is opened, it forms a work surface that transforms the piece into a functional working desk.

Internal drawers provide enough storage for stationery and documents, as well as any smaller items of equipment you might need to hand. The shelves are designed for a range of purposes, but are ideal for storing your computer tower, printer, wi-fi router, scanner and paper reams or other consumables.

You can sit a lamp and computer monitor on the top surface of the unit. This means that when the doors and panel are closed up, the desk transforms into a stylish, contemporary sideboard, easily blending in with your other furniture, but ready to be opened up for working use at any time.

Hideaway desks are ideal for maximising space, making them great for home offices where space is at a premium. For occasional work, or for home office work where you have to make use of a room that has other purposes such as a living room or bedroom, hideaway desks allow you to have the work surface you need without losing space that would be taken up by a permanent desk.

They are adaptable too; most models come with a removable shelf so you have greater flexibility and can store what you need. They also help you to separate work from family time, giving you the ability to shut the door on work for the day, without feeling like your tasks are nagging you from a desk in the corner of the room.

Most hideaway desks are made from solid wood, with high quality detailing such as fluted design work and antiqued brass bow drop and tear drop handles. This makes them exquisite pieces in their own right and will be a stylish talking point in any room.

If you need to work from home but don’t have the space to install a permanent desk, or if you need to use a room that is shared by the family or housemates at times, hideaway desks are the perfect solution.

Why choose hideaway desks?

Working from home requires a lot of careful planning in terms of your use of space. Many of us need to use the space we already have and that can mean taking up residence in a bedroom or living area. Perhaps you’ll use this room during the day, when the rest of the household is at work or school.

In most cases, that means that when you stop working and everyone arrives home, you have a permanent working desk set up. Desks can get cluttered easily and take up a lot of space, meaning that your work intrudes on your home life. This can lead to frustration; if you have kids, your work equipment is in danger of being damaged, and other members of the household can become irritated at a messy work desks cluttering up the living space.

Not only that, but it can be hard to switch off from work when you work at home. If your desk is installed in the living room, for example, there’s always the temptation to do “just a little bit more”, or to jump back to the desk when you remember something you meant to do earlier. When the desk is set up ready for work, it’s easy to give into that temptation.

However, it’s crucial that you find a good work/life balance, especially when working from home. With a hideaway desk, many of these problems can be easily resolved. Since the hideaway desk closes up into a compact sideboard, when other people are around it takes up less of their space. Your work and equipment is hidden away securely, protecting it from damage or interference.

When you’re ready to work, all you need to do is open the doors and drop down the panel to create a working desk. Move your chair over to the desk and you’re ready to begin your tasks. Everything you need is to hand, perfectly ordered and just where you need it.

Later on, when everyone returns home, simply tidy away your work, close the panel and doors, and join your family or housemates. This has the added benefit of allowing you to completely clear away your work, reducing the temptation to work for too long, or to do that “one more task” when you should be spending time with your family.

Hideaway desks are not only an efficient storage solution for those who work from home; they’re also a great way to give yourself some order and to protect your work/life balance, something that can be tricky to do when you work from home.

Hideaway versus standard desks

You might be wondering whether a hideaway computer desk can really be as good as a more traditional desk, so here are some of the pros and cons when we compare the two side by side:

Pros of hideaway desks

  • Attractive design
  • Equipment is protected
  • Easier to keep tidy
  • Good for separating work and life

Cons of hideaway desks

  • Less ergonomic than standard desks
  • Working area can be smaller
  • More expensive to buy

Pros of standard desks

  • More ergonomic
  • Put functionality over form
  • Larger working area
  • Cheaper to buy

Cons of standard desks

  • Larger footprint than hideaway desks
  • Manufactured from cheaper materials
  • Easily become cluttered and unsightly
  • Equipment and paperwork is not protected

As you can see, there are some distinct advantages to hideaway desks, but there are some compromises to be made too. Before you decide to invest in a hideaway computer desk, think about what’s important to you. If ergonomics and a large working area is what you’re after, then maybe a standard desk would be more suitable. However, if what you want is a beautiful piece of furniture which protects your paperwork and equipment, a hideaway desk is a great investment.

Starting a business

Embarking on your own business venture is an incredibly exciting and potentially rewarding move, but often not without its difficulties. Many start-ups fail within the first or second year, so it’s important to set out in the right way so that you can become one of the success stories. Careful planning before you launch can help you overcome many of these difficulties, allowing you to go on to develop a lucrative start-up business of your own.

What kind of business?

The first thing to consider is the kind of business you’ll be launching. We’re not talking industry here; presumably you already know what kind of product or service you’ll be offering. Instead, we’re talking about the practical decisions you’ll need to make regarding how you run your business.

Will you be working on this full-time, or will you launch part-time, perhaps using a contract job to support you in your first year or two? How much money do you need to earn, and is this a realistic figure? Will you be launching a bricks-and-mortar or online business?

The answers to these questions will help you to define the shape of your business early on, something that will act as an important foundation as you move on. Be as realistic as possible about your expectations, and what you can manage. Ideally, you shouldn’t quit the day job immediately as it will take some time before your business has enough cashflow for you to survive on. Alternatively, you could consider building up savings before launching the business; many successful entrepreneurs advise having one or two years’ worth of salary in the bank before you launch.

When to launch?

Think carefully about when you want to launch the business; it might be tempting to jump right in, but there are a number of key tasks you’ll want to complete before doing so. Set yourself a realistic timescale for launch, with careful planning and useful milestones that can act as goals before you launch the business.

Define your target market

It’s unlikely that the product or service you offer will appeal to everyone equally, so the next stage is to define your target customer(s). This will allow you to tailor your service to them and will help you plan your marketing strategy. Consider the ways in which your target audience shops; younger people buy more online (although older demographics are increasingly doing this too), and specific niche markets will expect different things from interactions with businesses.

Consider your competitors

You also have to be aware of your competitors and how to get the edge on them. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a great way of finding out how you are positioned compared to your competitors and how you can get ahead of them.

Get feedback

It’s also a good idea to get feedback from potential customers; even family and friends can help out here, just make sure you select participants who meet your target demographic. You can also roll out a “soft launch”, offering a free or heavily-discounted version of your product or service to those who are willing to provide feedback.

Location

Working out where you’ll be based is the next crucial step. Renting premises is one of the single biggest overheads in any business and can be especially resource-draining for a small business. It’s worth thinking seriously about working from home in the early days, if possible, or consider a shared workspace or business ‘incubator’; the latter are usually offered by business development organisations and usually come with extra help to plan and run your business.

Start-up costs

You need to keep your initial costs down as much as possible and explore how you will cover your start-up costs. You might consider a loan or grant, but these can be very difficult to obtain and can saddle your business with debt before you’re even up and running.

Instead, think about using what you already have in terms of equipment and consider second-hand options when you need to get items for the business.

Your business name

Choosing your business name is one the most crucial decision you’ll make, but thankfully it can be an enjoyable process too. The right name will help to attract customers but the wrong one will put them off; the name needs to not only act as a kind of descriptor of your business but also contribute to its ‘feel’.

Visuals and branding

Once you have a name in place, you can think about branding and your online presence. If you don’t have design skills, consider outsourcing this; if you can’t afford a professional design agency at this stage, it’s always possible to find freelancers who are willing to work on a reduced fee to help build up their portfolio. Try fiverr or People Per Hour, for example.

Your branding and the visual components of your business identity are critical to how the business will be received by others and your website will likely be the bread and butter of your sales, so it’s important you get this right.

Creating a business plan

Next, you’ll need to create a business plan. This should ideally cover the first five years of business activity, with the level of detail weighted to the first one or two years and with high-level information from then on. This will include your marketing strategy, sales projections, description of your customers and how your business fits into the market and overall will be a roadmap of how you will achieve success.

Many people are afraid of business plans, but there is a lot of help out there. Try an online search or contact your local business development organisations for support. Your business plan will be a living document that can change over time, but having it in place from the start will help to keep you on track.

Register your business

Lastly, you’ll need to register your business. You can either be self-employed (also known as sole trading), or form a company. The former requires less paperwork and lower taxes, but will leave you liable for all business debts. The latter will protect you from personal liability, but there is a charge to set it up and there is significant accounting, reporting and management responsibilities that accompany it.

Either way, you’ll need to let HMRC know which you have decided on and register appropriately to ensure that your business is legitimate.

And there you have it; it’s actually not very difficult to set up a start-up business and with careful planning you can have a solid foundation on which to build your success.

Setting up a home office

In the early days of your business, at least, you’ll probably want to work from home. It will keep your overheads low and is also a clear sign of the freedom offered by working for yourself. However, in order to run a successful business from home, you’ll need careful planning.

Planning the right home office will keep you organised and help you to maintain work/life balance. Follow our tips for setting up your home office correctly and you’ll be off to a great start.

Critical Needs

First of all, you’ll need to make a list of your critical needs; the things you absolutely must be able to do in your office. Will you need to be online? Have access to printers? Have storage for paperwork, or have all documentation on the cloud? Working out exactly what you’ll need to do to run your business will help you to define your space and equipment requirements.

Location

Next, think about where your office will be situated. If you have a spare room that can be converted into an office, you’ll find it’s the ideal solution, but for many of us, we don’t have that luxury. In that case, you’ll probably need to convert one of your rooms to do double duty.

Whether you’re setting up in the living room or bedroom, you’ll need to carefully think about how much space you have and consider anyone else you live with to ensure you don’t encroach on their space, and that you won’t be disturbed when working.

Set Hours

Establish set hours for your business and stick to them. In many people’s minds, freelancers who work from home have it easy, sitting around in their pyjamas and doing a little bit of work here and there, but the reality is often very different; working from home often leaves freelancers tempted to work very long days, with no clear delineation between working time and living time.

Setting up hours of work and sticking to them will help you to maintain work/life balance and help you to achieve harmony. Further to this, those hours need to be respected by anyone you live with, but this will require careful and sensitive negotiation.

Equipment

In the early days of your business, it’s best to try and rely on equipment you already have, or at least to buy second-hand to keep your costs down. Don’t be tempted to rush out and buy brand-new equipment; it might help you to feel that bit more legitimate, but if you’re not earning through the business yet, you shouldn’t be spending.

Furniture

The furniture you use will not only help you to stay organised but will also help with your health and safety. From your desk and chair to a variety of storage options, choosing the right furniture is key to setting up a great home office.

While you don’t want to over-invest in the early days, two critical pieces of investment should be your desk and chair. You’ll spend most of your working day at these and if they are uncomfortable or not fit for purpose, it will have a negative effect on your business.

Office Furniture Online has a full range of pieces that are ideal for a home office, including desks, chairs and storage options that will integrate well into rooms that are also used for other purposes, including stylish pieces that can be incorporated into living rooms.

Lighting

As far as is possible, use natural light. Set up your desk near the window so you get the benefit of daylight. You’ll need lamps too, especially in the UK! Choose table lamps and bulbs that give a soft, sculpted glow but which can be directed for close work to reduce eye strain.

Privacy

Working from home, you run the risk of distractions and intrusions from other members of the household. Make sure that however you set up your office, it is designed to offer you a degree of privacy, not only from surrounding distractions like the TV but also from others in the home.

You can use portable screens to shield your working area from those around you, or use a divider wall to effectively create a small ‘room within a room’. You could also consider using a Do Not Disturb sign (carefully worded to not cause offence), so that other people know when you are focused and concentrating on a task.

Organisation

Proper, useful storage, both on the desktop and as separate units, will help you to keep everything in order and prevent disorganisation. You should have adequate storage for stationery and, critically, storage for important paperwork.

Also consider implement an organisational system, perhaps using colour coding and labels, so that everything is easily to hand when you need it. When running your own business, there are certain requirements to keep documentation for tax and legal purposes, so you don’t want to lose important financial information, for example.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the study of how we interact with our environment and is most commonly applied to how we sit at our desks for work. Using ergonomics in the design of furniture, and in how we set up our seat and desk, we can combat the problems of musculoskeletal disorders, aches and pains that often comes with sitting for long periods.

Make sure that when you are choosing furniture, you pay attention to your own measurements as well as those of the desk and chair. Ideally, these should be adjustable to suit your specific body. When seated at a desk, your feet should be flat on the floor with your legs bent 90 degrees at the knees. Your arms should also be bent at 90 degrees at the elbow, with your forearms parallel with the desk work surface and your hands resting lightly above the keyboard.

You should also set up your monitor so that your eyes are level with the top of the screen. This will prevent eye and neck strain, and if you can’t achieve that with the desk you have, consider using a monitor riser to lift it up to the correct height.

Picking colours

Here’s where you can really get creative; the colours you choose for your home office can have a big impact on your mood and productivity. Cool colours like blues, greens and violets can evoke a sense of calm. However, blue can make a room seem cooler, which has the effect of making you sleepy. Great for a bedroom, but not so much for a home office.

Green, meanwhile, evokes the natural world and is organic and fresh feeling. Yellow is considered a creative and optimistic colour but too much of it can be distracting and can even cause anxiety.

Lime green, which has yellow hues in it, is a perfect combination of these two. Be wary of reds; they are energetic but too much can be overpowering. Use red for accents only.

When choosing a colour, the best plan is to use swatches and test paints to see how you feel about the colour, but remember that if you’re in any doubt, go for neutral colours.

Top tips for being productive when working at home

Working from home can be incredibly freeing and has many advantages, but there are downsides too, not least of which is the many possible distractions to face. Most freelancers or small business owners who work from home learn to overcome these distractions, but when you’re just starting out it can be a significant drain on your time and productivity.

Luckily, those of us who have been there can offer a degree of wisdom that can help you to circumvent that learning process. There is a multitude of systems and apps you can use to help boost your productivity and reduce distractions. Let’s take a look at some of the best:

Paperwork systems

There are countless systems you can use to keep your paperwork organised so that you don’t waste time searching for important items. Whether your store your documents in paper form or on the cloud, a simple, effective organisational system will benefit you in the long run.

GTD (or Get Things Done) is a popular system that is the brainchild of David Allen, who wrote a book of the same name. It revolves around five “pillars” that are steps to getting organised. First, capture everything, including to-do lists, recurring tasks and notes, in whatever tool you prefer. Then clarify the things you have to do, breaking each one down into actionable steps.

Organise your actionable steps by category and priority, such as ‘Do immediately’ and ‘Bills’. Set up calendar events and reminders for each task. Then reflect on your new to-do list; items that you can do immediately should be actioned. Others that seem vague and you aren’t sure how long they will take to complete should be broken down further until you have clear tasks with timescales.

Finally, engage with your work. Choose the action that’s on the list that fits into the time you have and do it. Focus on priorities, but continue to keep an eye on other tasks, so that if there’s something ahead that you can complete in five minutes, you can cross it off the list when you have the time.

Pomodoro technique

This technique is designed are the principle that we are more productive when we work in short, concentrated bursts instead of long periods of continuous activity. It was invented by a developer and author, Franceso Cirillo, who named it for the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work.

The idea is simple; when working on a complex task, break it down into short, timed intervals. These are usually based around the “half hour” principle of human concentration. In Pomodoro, you work for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, then repeat. Every 4 pomodoros, take a longer break of between 15-30 minutes.

It is particularly useful for anyone doing creative work but anyone can benefit from it. It keeps you fresh, always recharged and fully concentrating on the task at hand. Combine your 5 minute breaks with short walks away from your desk and you’ll look after your health too.

Time tracking

There are a number of time tracking systems and apps available, with a variety of features. Time tracking is useful for freelancers who charge by the hour and is also helpful for anyone who would like to track their productivity, as well as find out what their most distracting activities are.

Rescue Time automatically tracks all of your activity, including websites and applications you use. You can customise it to a fine degree, setting up ‘Focus Mode’, which will block distracting activities like social media if you reach a set time limit on those sites.

Toggl is a little more manual, although automated features have been added, but this is a great app for manually tracking how much time you spend on each job. It has a great reporting function that allows you to clearly track billable hours (in Pro mode only) and it even has a built-in Pomodoro timer.

Declutter regularly

One sure-fire way to become disorganised over time is to allow clutter to build up. It’s easy for paperwork, stationery, equipment and even coffee cups to accumulate on your desk and surfaces, making it hard to find things when you need them.

That’s why it’s important to get into the habit of regularly clearing out your clutter. Be ruthless; bin everything you no longer need and store occasional items away from your desk. Use hanging files for important documents and cupboards with plastic storage trays and boxes for stationery and other equipment you don’t use regularly.

Items you use every day should be near to hand, but off the desktop, in your top drawer for example. If you get into this habit, you’ll find less clutter builds up over time and it will become easier to clear out as you go.

Questions to ask before shopping for a hideaway desk

Before making any major purchase, it’s always a good idea to draw up a list of requirements. The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself some crucial questions about the purchase; the answers to these questions will help you to narrow down your choices.

Here are some of the main questions to ask yourself before opting for a hideaway desk:

  • Where will the desk be situated? Do you have enough room for it based on the online specifications of the model you’re looking at?
  • Does the desk have enough storage to hold all of your equipment? PC towers come in different sizes, for example, so ensure that the model of desk you choose has enough space to house your own tower. The same applies for your printer, scanner and any other equipment.
  • What kind of material do you need? Most hideaway desks are made of solid wood, but you can choose from a variety of hardwoods, so make sure it will fit in with your other furniture/surroundings.
  • How will you care for the desk? Hardwood furniture is durable and long-lasting, but requires maintenance to ensure it stays beautiful. Consider the time it will take to maintain and make sure you are able to purchase the correct cleaning and maintenance products.
  • Further to the previous point, will your desk be correctly situated in the room? Hardwood can withstand most room temperatures, but be careful to avoid positioning them directly against heat sources like radiators.
  • Check delivery details; many hardwood pieces can only be delivered pre-built to ground floor only due to their weight. You might need to carry the piece upstairs yourself if your office is on another floor and you should ensure you have plenty of help to do that safely.

Choosing a hideaway desk

Size/dimensions

It’s important that you check the dimensions of the desk before purchase. Look at the full specifications for the model you are considering and measure the space you intend to position the desk in. This includes the overall footprint, height, depth and width.

For hideaway desks, you should also look at internal dimensions. The opening for the PC tower unit will have a fixed width and depth, but some models have a removable or height adjustable shelf above the space to allow for taller towers.

Also check the dimensions of shelving for printers, scanners and other accessories to make sure they will take your current equipment. The same is true for the drawers.

Materials

At Office Furniture Online, all of our hideaway desks are made of solid hardwood, with choices of models in mahogany, walnut and oak. You can choose a style of wood that will integrate well with the furniture you already have in your room.

Wood is a durable, long-lasting material, making sure that your desk will last you a lifetime, but only if it is properly maintained. That means you need to take care of work surfaces, making sure they are protected from heat and liquids by using mats or coasters. You should also make sure any spillages are wiped up immediately.

Layout

Hideaway desks all have a traditional, rectangular layout, so be careful if you choose to position it in a corner as it will take up more space. Also, check that there is enough room to open up the front doors and to drop down the front panel/surface for using the keyboard and mouse.

Weight

Solid hardwood is heavy, meaning that these pieces are incredibly durable. However, that also means that they aren’t easy to move around, so try to ensure that you place your desk in the most suitable position.

If you are moving the desk at any point in the future, get help to do so, and always lift according to the best guidelines for health and safety.

Hardwood hideaway desks are delivered fully built, but can only be delivered to ground floors. If your office is upstairs, or you live in a flat on another floor, you’ll need to make sure you can safely get the item upstairs and into the office.

General best practices when buying office furniture

Making large purchases always requires you to take your time to make a decision and use your instincts when choosing a supplier, but it’s even more important when that purchase is an investment in your small business.

It’s important to make sure you choose the right supplier and find the right product for your specifications at the best value price, without scrimping on quality. You also need to protect yourself from unscrupulous or untrustworthy suppliers, especially when buying online.

By following standard best practice, you can make your purchase safe in the knowledge that your investment will be worth it and your furniture will stand the test of time. Here are some of our top tips for making sure you make the right decisions.

Do your homework

There’s a wealth of options available to you now thanks to online shopping. You can choose to rely on a supplier you’ve previously used or opt for a different retailer. You can also choose between well-known household brands or high street stores, a reputable retailer you’ve never heard of, or an obscure, internet-based supplier.

There are no rights or wrongs here. Just make sure that you do your homework before making any purchase; you need to make sure that you buy from a legitimate, reputable and trustworthy supplier before agreeing to hand over your money.

Here are some of the key red flags to look out for when you’re shopping online:

  • Modern browsers and anti-virus software have sophisticated measures for spotting unscrupulous or dangerous sites; make sure you take heed of any warnings that pop up when you visit a new site
  • Trustworthy retailers will usually post up customer reviews; be wary of sites with no feedback at all, or with only bad reviews
  • Legitimate business will post details of their registered address and telephone numbers on their website; watch out for sites with no addresses or only PO boxes
  • Retailers usually spend a significant amount of money to create good looking, working websites to represent their brand. Be wary if you spot lots of broken links or images, bad or outdated website design or poor spelling and grammar in the content
  • If price seem too good to be true in comparison to other retailers, they usually are; look out for hidden charges or small print
  • It’s important that the business will last, so look out for new or young businesses or websites

It’s easier than ever to check a website’s authenticity. One of the best ways to do this is to using the ‘whois’ service. This is a website that allows you to enter a web address and provide you with details of the owner(s). You can check how long the website has been operational and can see the registered address. However, it is possible to hide your address behind that of your webhost; retailers shouldn’t do this, so be wary of sites that do.

Scammers have some sophisticated ways to phish for your credit card details and one of these is to completely mirror authentic sites. Look for clues in the content that show all is not as it should be. Thankfully, most modern browsers are able to spot such sites and warn you before you visit.

Even if the website and retailer is legitimate, you should be wary of buying from very young businesses. They can often offer great deals as they try to undercut their competitors to gain a foothold in the market, but this can lead to company’s going into administration. If this happens, your return policy, warranties or guarantees may become null and void, meaning that if something goes wrong with your desk, your only option may be to splash out on a whole new product.

Check the reviews

Online product reviews are a great way to get information on the benefits and drawbacks of different products before you buy. Five-star reviews are reassuring, but sometimes it’s the one-star reviews that reveal the most about a product.

However, don’t assume that a bad review means a bad product. Sometimes a customer will have bought the wrong product for the job or not read the specifications correctly and, occasionally, customers like to have a moan about things that are out of the control of the retailer or manufacturer.

Looking through a selection of reviews and use the average overall score to guide you.

Compare deals

Once you’ve decided on a model or style of desk, it often pays to shop around. It’s never been easier to perform like-for-like comparisons using price comparison websites or browser add-ons. With just a few clicks, you can see what different retailers are charging and opt for the best deal. Always make sure you get a few different quotes before making your decision.

If you have a preferred supplier but you’ve seen a product cheaper elsewhere, it’s always worth getting in touch with them to let them know. Many retailers will do price-matching, especially for regular customers. You might also be able to get a discount if you are a first-time buyer, or if you’re looking to open up an account; securing repeat business is crucial, so just ask!

Headline prices can look very attractive at times, but always ensure you know exactly what you are being charged before finalising your purchase. Add-on costs can sometimes appear on the last checkout page and you might not be expecting them, or notice them. Some key things to look out for are:

  • VAT: In the UK, VAT currently stands at a massive 20%, a whole fifth of the price of your purchase. Some vendors will clearly display VAT next to their products, while others will only add this at the checkout stage, so also make sure you check what the final price is before completing your purchase.
  • Import or export tax: Overseas retailers can often offer dirt-cheap prices on large items. However, be aware that the standards on build quality and health & safety may not be as strict as UK or EU standards, making it a poor investment. Also, import or export tax is a fee that not many people are aware of. This isn’t added by the retailer so won’t be added at checkout; in fact, you’ll only find out about this fee on delivery of the product and it can be very pricey for large items. Do a web search to see if you can get a ballpark figure for import/export fees before you buy.
  • Delivery: Here at Office Furniture Online, we offer free delivery on most products to UK addresses. However, some of our competitors will add hefty delivery fees on top at the checkout stage. Again, always check that final figure before completing the sale.
  • Express: If you need your furniture delivered fast, some retailers will add a large fee for express couriering items to you. Most of our products come with next day delivery as standard but, for other retailers, check these fees first.
  • Admin: Admin fees are a rare sight these days, but some retailers will still try to get away with them, especially if you are making a purchase on account. Check over your invoice to ensure no unnecessary admin fees are being added.

It’s worth bearing in mind that when it comes to business expenditure, price isn’t always everything. You’ll also want fantastic customer service and after care, including rock-solid warranties and guarantees and, of course, you want the best quality you can get for your money. Make sure you factor these into your purchasing decisions.

Only buy what you need

It can be tempting, especially when buying online, to add more to your cart than you need or to opt for pricier items because you’re seduced by product descriptions or new technologies.

Work out your requirements in advance and stick to your needs when making a purchase. Evaluate how much you are getting for your cash and look past the gimmicks that might look good but may have no real practical use for your purposes.

One final thing to be aware of is that while it’s important to take some time to plan your purchase and make a decision, it’s easy to fall into ‘analysis paralysis’ too. If you find that you’re obsessing over small details or have spent weeks trying to choose between two or more items, you’re missing out on getting the use of your purchase.

A little advice from your chosen retailers’ sales team might help you here but above all, focus on finding the right item for your needs and remember: this is a business investment, so don’t be afraid to spend money to get the rewards in the future.

Further information

At Office Furniture Online, we stock a beautiful range of hardwood hideaway desks, as well as all the furniture you need for an organised, fully-functional home office. With upfront pricing, full specifications and free delivery on most items to the UK, we have everything you need in one place.

However, if you have any questions about our products, or you need advice on choosing the right furniture, you can contact our Sales Team who are always on hand to help.

Just call on 0844 248 7001, email us at sales@officefurnitureonline.co.uk or complete the contact form on our site and we’ll get back to you.