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Designing a Clean Workspace: Cable Management Ideas for the Open Office

6 Min Read

The contemporary open office work environment has to fulfill a plethora of needs, from function to comfort. Some offices offer employees more traditional, permanent workstations, while others opt for a high degree of mobility, and need a more creative workspace model.

Whether permanent or mobile workstations, modern office spaces must consider facility needs, building codes and user functionality, when it comes to cabling.

Historically, there have been two schools of thought when it comes to cable management:

  1. Necessity: Cables are required for a workspace to function and will be visible. If cables must be seen, then they should be as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

    This school of thought led to braided cables and bundling, which ultimately create issues when there is need to add or subtract a cable. Although cables are kept tidy while in use, they fall apart and get tangled when inevitable change is necessary.

  2. Design Thinking: Cables are necessary, but can be concealed in an organized manner.

    Consider the cables needed for all necessary functions, both facility and user, during the design phase. This will allow the cables to be integrated into the floorplan and furniture choices, allowing for maximum versatility, function and aesthetic appeal.

With the emergence of the standing desk and more transient work styles, paired with workers using multiple devices, the age old task of minimizing cord visibility, remains relevant. How can Design Thinking be implemented to achieve a convenient, productive work environment without the clutter?

Open Office Cable Management Challenges and Traditional Solutions

Although the modern workplace has progressed, it seems that cord management solutions and electrical codes have not kept up with workplace needs. We now have to consider not only facilities cabling, which includes electrical, phone and data lines from the building to the workstation, but also user cabling. User cabling connects the worker to their workspace and includes everything from your phone or tablet charger to your coffee warmer.

Typically, the following challenges are met with fast and easy cable management “Band-Aids”, which ultimately don’t offer long-term flexible solutions:

Workplace feature Challenge “Band-Aid”
Transient work style / hot desking Lack of ownership Concealed cables under or behind work surfaces
Height adjustable work surface Cables cannot adjust with workspace height and are openly visible in sightlines Zip ties or braided cables
Modular pods Cable concealment in between workstations and flexible pod layouts Running cabling through the floor or ceiling and metal conduits, creating a “power plant” aesthetic
Mobile devices Plug-in accessibility Foregoing convenience and using the nearest outlet, or running clunky power strips to the worksurface

Integrating Design Thinking into Workplace Cable Management Provides Solutions as Versatile as your Employee’s Needs

No cable management system is entirely perfect, however, considering the needs of your office in the design phase can help to provide convenient, aesthetically pleasing solutions that can grow with your business.

Here are some ways that you can meet modern challenges with modern solutions:

Workplace Feature Challenge Modern Solution
Transient work style / hot desking Lack of ownership An office benching system creates a power trough that provides every user with a plug-in point and provides a natural storage solution
Height adjustable work surface Cables cannot adjust with workspace height and are openly visible in sightlines An energy chain works well in highly adjustable situations
Modular pods Cable concealment in between workstations and flexible pod layouts A raceway is a versatile solution designed for modularity in open plan work environments
Mobile devices Plug-in accessibility Convenient work surface outlets

The above solutions to cable management are both logical and convenient, making it easier to manage cables than to not manage them. Working with a furniture solutions expert during the design stage will ensure that the cable management solutions partner with with your office furniture needs.

Watson’s Smarter Solutions for Open Office Cable Management


Predicting how and where your staff will need to use cable and power is essential. Good design, planning and functional furniture allows your office space to become productive, flexible and beautiful.

Designed with aesthetic and function in mind, Watson furnishings are created to your specifications. This in turn minimizes visual disruption of cables and cords, letting your business grow and change with your needs.

Watson designers will look at your office plans and ask the following questions:

  • How does this workspace need to function in connection to the office as a whole?
  • How can we provide the necessary power, voice and data to this workspace, while only having one cord emerge on the user side?
  • How can we ensure every user of the workspace has a clean, functional space?

The goal is to create a customized workspace that when completed, looks like the rendered design, with no exposed cables.

Watson Cable Management Products

Bahn Rail


Bahn Rail was released at NeoCon in 2017 and is the most refined, versatile, current solution to cable management. It’s only six inches wide, and allows any sort of storage or desk to be pushed up against it without introducing additional workstation creep.

Bahn Rail allows for different modular applications, depending upon the needs of the end user. It can go from very basic, bringing power, voice and data to a series of users at the desk, to more versatile applications. The more extensive applications include cord management solutions such as installing cabling into rail, and then connecting it to other cable managers and energy chains. This provides an accessible, concealed system of cords that connect all workspaces in the office.

To gain even more function out of your Bahn Rail, you can add enhanced bio-management features like privacy panels that block sightlines and reduce audio interference, in an open office setting. Users love the Bahn Rail it as it has many hidden features allowing for concealment of cables and a highly intuitive versatile design.

Watson Media Fast


Give technology a seat at the table. Small teams will find Media Fast a convenient addition for collaborative work. Attach Media Fast to most Watson tables or work surfaces and use its cable management clamp to cleanly route data and power beneath the table. 

Bahn Office


The newest Watson product, Ready Office, combines the cable management of the versatile Bahn Rail, while redefining companion workspace pieces. Its an all-in-one approach curated to fit individual workstation needs, while maintaining the integrity of open office and shared office spaces. Ready Office will be launching at NeoCon 2018. Subscribe to our newsletter below to keep up with the latest developments.

Make Your Open Office WORK with Sleek, Quality Cable Management

This day and age, open office design requires integration of staff needs with a clean aesthetic and fluid layout. The challenge of cable management in the open office setting may seem totally insurmountable. However, the solution is simple. By combining Watson’s knowledgeable design team, smart furniture design, excellent layout planning and skilled installation, you can have your open office looking good and increasing productivity in no time.

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