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The desk is the most important piece of furniture and it’s found in all offices. The area behind the desk always forms the private area where only the desk owner is permitted. This is his sanctuary which he protects. Those with desks facing in toward an open space with their backs to a wall have the most amount of status. Having your back against the wall protects you from a theoretical sneak attack or from having others watch you as you work. Low ranking workers will usually work in areas that afford them little privacy and hence be found in wide open areas [click images to enlarge - not all data is visible].

The area behind the desk is considered private.  Facing the door with the back to the wall is the most powerful position as it permits seeing people enter.

The area behind the desk is considered private. Facing the door with the back to the wall is the most powerful position as it permits seeing people enter.

Low ranking employees are forced to face the wall so the boss can watch them work without being noticed himself.

Low ranking employees are forced to face the wall so the boss can watch them work without being noticed himself.

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A low rank desk arrangement because it leaves the employees back exposed to whomever is entering through the door.

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An extremely low status desk arrangement because it would be impossible to guard against someone entering through the door.

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This arrangement is meant to maximize the amount of private space claimed by the owner. Any area from the edge of the door across the front of the desk to the bookcase and behind are claimed as reserved for the owner’s needs.