Best low profile WFH setup for multiple laptops and sit/stand desk
September 14, 2021 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a sit/stand desk, two laptops, hub station and single arm monitor mount using a clamp. I need help with cord management, laptop storage and general storage that meets my picky requirements.

I'd like to solve these issues as affordably as I can, but I can throw a little money at the problem. The docking station/hub has to be accessible regardless of desk height. I occasionally use one laptop free form while the other is hooked up to the better components (external keyboard, monitor and webcam). I would not mind a setup that requires fully transferring the laptop to the hub to use it. I could probably change things so both laptops are on the hub at all times, but don't want to mix work data and side gig work data so I avoid this.

My cords are an ugly mess, but I'm not sure what to do about them considering that I need them to accommodate variable heights.

My desk has a keyboard drawer which greatly limits my ability to use a shelf under it to store the laptop being used. Vertical laptop storage I see on Amazon is ugly, but if that's how I have to do this, so be it. I would prefer storage that allows me to have a mostly empty desk. I could put a cabinet under my desk but that doesn't really solve the need for the laptop to be connected to the hub, and I don't know how that would work when the desk is standing height.

So do I just buy really long versions of the cables that connect peripherals to the hub and store the laptops and hub under the desk at all times? The desk has no storage of its own. I am debating buying something like this to use for general office storage as I've done this work long enough to amass reference materials that cannot all be stored digitally, and really want clean visual lines when I am not actively using items.

Aside from basic aesthetic preferences, my desk is right next to my bed, and the lack of work clutter helps keep me from feeling oppressed by work at all hours of the day. It also helps my ADHD and anxiety greatly to not have so many items to process visually.

Surely someone out there has found a low profile way to setup multiple laptops in their work space. What have you seen or used yourself that you love?
posted by crunchy potato to Work & Money (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of my co-workers use the laptop monitor as one of their monitors with it propped up on an angled stand. Add that to your list of options.
posted by bbqturtle at 1:30 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

I second the angled stands for laptops - I have two (personal and work) plus a good quality monitor with webcam in the middle. My desk is an electric convertible standing/sitting desk. Like you, I have struggled with cord management with two laptop setups plus charging cables for phones. Any type of ziptie or clip was very incovenient since I would occassionally need to pull out cables for use elsewhere.

My desk is black, so I eventually found an old set of black cloths that I was able to drape over the cords to cover them up. It's simple, cheap, and definitely helped with the visual appearance of the desk.

Hope this helps.
posted by fortitude25 at 1:57 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this helps, but this laptop stand is great. The Roost Stand. It's convenient to put away when not in use and helps save your neck. This could be for a laptop you don't really need to type on much or if you want to connect a keyboard.

Ikea has some open cube storage solutions and I've seen people use cube boxes to keep stuff in.
posted by VyanSelei at 2:01 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should have clarified that I usually keep the laptops closed and use the large monitor. Occasionally I'll pull out the laptop not hooked up to the hub and use it normally, but 90% of the time both laptops are closed and one is connected to the hub.
posted by crunchy potato at 2:17 PM on September 14

Probably not so much in the stylish department, but I use an under shelf basket (e.g.) to hold my docking station. Multiple units can be chained together. (For better and for worse, the open access to the basket comes from behind the desk). There seem to be baskets (e.g.) that are specifically designed to be us used under desks.
posted by oceano at 3:39 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Oh maybe this under desk mounted stand ?
posted by oceano at 3:54 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

What is the "docking station/hub?" Those are two definitely separate things to me, a docking station is a port replicator to me, for if you want to have a printer and ethernet and whatever available to plug into one machine, and the hub is what might be a KVM switch so you can change which machine is being used with the keyboard/mouse/screen?

Aside from that, would getting one or more additional arms for laptop holders beside your monitor mount be overkill? You can get a very decent two or three arm monitor mount for totally reasonable money.
posted by rhizome at 4:38 PM on September 14

1. Is there room on both/either sides of the keyboard drawer to bolt shelves to the bottom of the desktop to hold the laptops (or one long shelf for both)? Maybe slightly recessed from the front edge of the desktop for a cleaner look, but still easily reachable to pull the laptop out for fre-form use.

2. For cable management I'd recommend these zip-up cable sleeves. You could even completely zip open a couple of them, staple them to the underside of the desktop, then gather up the desired cables into them and zip them closed to keep most of the dangly cords out of sight, then use the rest to organize any that need to reach the floor or whatever at standing height. Or staple more of them to the back(s) of the back leg(s) of the desk to hide them more effectively. You might need more than one 4-pack to take care of the various-length cables, but they're cheap.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:39 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

I also usually keep laptops closed and use with external peripherals. The way I like to stash my laptop while doing this is to "file" them vertically in something like this pot lid holder from Ikea or a letter holder. Then at home I use an ancient USB hub to connect all my peripherals to the laptop (at work I had a fancy USB docking station that could handle the monitor too).

Hub/dock and laptops live at the very back edge of the desk so that cables go down back behind the desk and if I'm feeling fancy, are bundle together under the desk with twist ties/zip ties/spiral cable wrap. The only cables really "on" the desk then are for keyboard and mouse. To deal with power cables reaching the outlet at different heights, at home I have a desktop machine in play that sits on the floor and the power strip for everything sits on top of that and can reach at all desk heights. At work, we have power strips attached to the bottom of the desk (with zip ties? velcro? I don't remember) and all the stuff on the desk plugs into that. You could also affix the docking station to the bottom of the desk if having it up top is too much clutter.
posted by Advanced_Waffler at 6:09 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]

not sure if this is what you were considering ugly, but it works great for me. i have it standing on top of my shitty dock, into which is plugged giant monitor, speaker puck, and printer. then when i need to switch computers, i just plug the dock cable into the other computer. the dock and two vertical laptops are behind my monitor so you barely even see them.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:36 PM on September 15

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