What Is a Desk Return?

If you work at a desk regularly, you know how frustrating it can be to run out of free space on your desk. No matter how often you put those files and forms away, they always end up on your desk, piling up. It’s almost as if the mess will take over your desk if you don’t do anything about it, right?

Well, this is pretty much what desk returns are all about. They are extensions that attach to your desk on either side (or both), providing extra space to keep stuff out of your immediate sight but still within reach.

In today’s post, we’ll explain what a desk return is, what you can utilize it for, and what type of desk return you should consider. Keep reading if you want to find out.

Foxemart L Shaped Corner Desk

What Is a Return On a Desk?

Let’s start with clearly defining what a return is. If you’ve ever shopped for an L-shaped or U-shaped desk, then you’re probably familiar with what a desk with a return looks like.

Essentially the return is the part of the desk that sticks out from one side and extends to create a corner shape to provide you with more space. All you need to do is turn to your side, and voila! You have a second desk, free of clutter, at your disposal now.

A return can be on either side of the desk or on both sides. So, what makes a difference? How should you decide if you need a left-handed return or a right-handed one? What are U-shaped desks for? We’ll answer all this and more now.

Left, Right, or on Both Sides: What Type of Return to Pick

If you have a computer on your desk, the center of your workspace is already occupied. If you’re working with anything else like a book or a physical file, you’ll need to set it up in front of you, right on top of your keyboard, which is less than ideal.

If you don’t enjoy setting a book or a file on your keyboard when you want to read it, you may benefit from an L-shaped desk extending on one side. This way, you can always have a free space you can turn to, but which side should your return be on?

The type of return desk you need depends on which hand you use the most dominantly. If you’re left-handed, you’ll most likely benefit from having a return on your left side and vice-versa. If you need lots of extra space, you can even go for a U-shaped desk with returns on both sides.

Benefits of a Return desk

Return desks can be the solution to a variety of problems you may face in an office. In addition to providing extra space, they can also contribute to your productivity and efficiency at work. Now, let’s dive deeper and explain what a return desk can do for you.

More Desk Space

The main benefit of having a return desk is that you simply get a second, smaller desk to work on. Working requires supplies and accessories you need to keep nearby, just in case you need them. All this stuff can quickly add up and invade your working space.

For example, if you have equipment such as a printer, a notepad, or a stapler taking up too much personal space, you can place them on a side return and immediately create a much more expansive and tidy workspace.

If you’re especially working with a dual monitor setup, you’ll benefit from using a return desk immensely. Alternatively, if you want to compartmentalize your tasks, you can even set up your second monitor on the desk return and turn to your side whenever you feel like switching tasks.

If you’re interested in learning more about optimizing your space with a dual monitor setup, you can read our tips in our dual monitor desk setup guide or check out our reviews for the best desks for dual monitors on the market.

More Storage Space

A return desk doesn’t only provide you with extra space on your desktop, but it can also provide you with more storage space too! Most desk returns feature additional drawers or storage spaces under the desk so you can keep even more of the supplies you need within reach.

Thanks to the space provided by the desk return, you won’t have to get up every time you need something. Moreover, you can use this space to put away anything on your desk when you don’t need them, which should come in handy when you quickly want to tidy up your desk.

Even if you don’t have drawers under your desk return, it still provides the perfect extra space for a nightstand-type table. You can always place a small file cabinet with drawers, which are very easy to find, under the return.

If you want more tips on organizing your office space, you can take a look at our 51 tips on organizing your office space most efficiently.

Increased Productivity

In addition to the increased desktop and storage space, a return desk can also increase your focus while you work and contribute to your overall productivity. As we mentioned above, you can compartmentalize your tasks and have two separate monitors on the different sides.

Alternatively, you can use the desk return as an electronics-free space, where you can quickly turn to get away from the computer screen for a few minutes. You can utilize this space to take a break from the computer, gather your thoughts, or just put a pen on paper when you just want to keep things simple.

If you’re looking for more ideas to keep you productive, you can also consider these DIY ideas to brighten up your office space while increasing your productivity at the same time.

A Professional Look

Even if you’re good at organizing your space and productivity, you must admit that having an L-shaped or a U-shaped return desk still looks more “professional” than having a regular desk.

While a regular, one-sided desk radiates a more open and approachable aura, having a return desk can give you more personal space as it provides a barrier between you and the rest of your office while you’re focused on your tasks.

Additionally, if you’re having trouble concentrating at work because of constant interruptions from your coworkers, a return can help you. The desk creates an illusion of distance, so you probably won’t be bothered as much!


As we tried to explain in our post today, having a desk with a return, such as an L-shaped desk, can do wonders for you. If you think your desktop space is insufficient, a return can provide you with more desktop real estate to place more supplies or equipment. However, a return can do much more than that.

A desk return can also create more storage space under the desk, as it usually features drawers, but you can also place a filing cabinet underneath. Moreover, having a return can be a great solution if you’re struggling with being productive at work, as it allows you to distribute your tasks between two work surfaces. You can even use this second space to get away from the computer screen for a few minutes.

Overall, a desk return gives off a more professional look and can motivate you to work better, even in a home-office environment. If you’re considering getting a desk with a return, you can check out our reviews for the six best corner desks that are on the market right now.

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