Industry Term Dictionary – Workstation

Commercial furniture can be confusing with so many different parts and pieces. Many of our clients are unfamiliar with the industry terms, and rightly so. We try our best to educate our clients on the products that will work best for them because there is seldom a one-fit solution. The image below shows a general workstation with the individual parts highlighted with their corresponding definitions. This only scratches the surface of available product, but is a good starting point to gaining understanding on some of the terms you may hear when we start a conversation about your new space.

Item: Height Adjustable Table (HAT)

Alternative Names We Hear: Sit to stand table, electric table, standing table

What it is: Worksurface placed on extending legs that can be raised or lowered commonly between the heights of 25” to 50”. There are multiple ways in which the height can be manipulated: Incremental, hand crank, torsion, or electric adjustment. The first three adjustments are very rarely used as they require physical effort from the user to adjust by way of screw pegs, turning a crank, or use of springs. Electric adjustment is the easiest to modify by simply applying pressure to a touch pad in either the up or down direction.


Item: Task Light

Alternative Names We Hear: Under mount light, desk light fixture

What it is: Light mounted to the underside of an overhead or placed on a worksurface to help illuminate a specific area to make it easier to accomplish a task. Task lights usually offer multiple options including dimmable capabilities, adjustment ranges, and color temperature variations (how cool or warm the light appears).


Item: Monitor Arm

Alternative Names We Hear: Monitor holder, monitor mount

What it is: Device to hold monitor screens at an optimal height, tilt, pivot, and rotation for the user which enables them to work in an ergonomic position and reduce or prevent eye and neck strain. Monitor arms can accommodate a single screen to upwards of six screens. They are usually installed with a clamp to the backside of the worksurface which allows the user to make adjustments without marring the surface.


Item: Open Shelf

Alternative Names We Hear: Upper storage without doors, open upper storage, shelf

What it is: Panel mounted shelf with side end supports and raised back lip to insure items stay where they are placed. They can be installed either above or below the worksurface.


Item: Overhead

Alternative Names We Hear: Binder bin, flipper door, upper storage, hutch, door cabinet

What it is: Enclosed box with optional lockable front. Front door options include a flipper door that lifts up and over the unit, cabinet doors which open toward the user, or sliding doors which have the option of covering only half the width of the unit or the entire width. Overheads can also be ordered without a door which is generally referred to as a storage box.


Item: Slat Rail / Work Tools

Alternative Names We Hear: Tool rail, accessory rail, paper management rail, slat tile

What it is: Extruded aluminum plate with a powder coat finish which allows mounting of various types of paper and accessory management items. Slat rails can come either as full tiles (as the markerboard tile is shown) or on certain product as an 8” high external mount piece (shown in the image above). There are over 15 different work tool accessories which slide into the groves of the slat rail to help get your work off the worksurface.


Item: Worksurface

Alternative Names We Hear: Countertop, writing surface, laminate top

What it is: The surface you use to complete your work. Multiple depths and widths can accommodate any type of industry from architects and engineers who review large drawings to individuals who spend most of their time in the field and require less work space.  


Item: Mobile Box/File Pedestal & File/File Pedestal

Alternative Names We Hear: Storage on wheels, pedestal, 2 drawer storage, B/F & F/F, lower storage, file cabinet

What it is: The term “box” refers to a drawer which is 6” in height which offers a place to store office accessories such as pens, paper, paper clips, etc. The term “file” indicates the drawer is 12” in height which allows for paper filing with hanging file folders. You also have the option of a “pencil” drawer which is 3” high; however because of the narrow height most users prefer the 6” height. Mobile pedestals include casters on the underside that can be rolled forward to offer a place for guest seating should you choose a cushion top.  Besides mobile and attached pedestals, you also have the option of a suspended pedestal which is attached to the underside of the worksurface and sits off the floor.


Item: Task Chair

Alternative Names We Hear: Desk chair, work chair, ergonomic chair, employee seating

What it is: Seating specifically intended to be used for several hours at a time or all day. Task chairs should offer multiple adjustments to be able to accommodate a large percentage of the workforce. Key features to look for include height adjustable arm rests, seat recline, seat depth adjustment, and easy-to-use adjustment levers.


Item: Panel / Powered Raceway

Alternative Names We Hear: Upholstered wall, cubicle wall, divider panel

What it is: Metal framed component with fabric, laminate, wood, or painted steel applied to the face with capabilities to run power and data. Fabric tiles offer acoustical properties to help reduce bouncing sound waves. Tiles can be inserted into the panel frame to horizontally break up the height of the panel, as seen with the markerboard tile in the above image.

Header image via

Sarah Brooks