Cable management is not going to be the highest priority for most people, but there are a few business benefits to keeping cables neat and tidy in the workplace. The most obvious advantage is aesthetic – no one can say that a rats nest of cables hanging off the back of every employees computer plus wires trailing everywhere is an attractive look. An office with tidy desks and a minimalist feel will generally be seen by customers (and staff) as being an efficient working environment and portray a good image of the business.
Another advantage of good cable management is safety. A mass of cables bunched up behind desks can be a fire hazard through the generation of heat and the possibility of damage to cables leading to short circuits. Sometime you see power cable wrapped up in a tight coil which is bad practice as it can generate heat and lead to fires. In the case of things like aerial or Ethernet cable, if it is too tightly coiled it can effect the signal. On the other hand if the cable trails along the floor it can be damaged by getting trapped or with the wheels of an office chair going over it. You also sometimes see trailing cables that can be a trip hazard. So here are a few suggestions to help improve the cable management in your office or workplace:
You can buy cable ties in packs and they are a cheap, easy to use and adequate solution to most cable issues. They are long lasting and even weather resistant (if you were using them outdoors). The disadvantages are that they are effectively permanent – you can cut them but then you have to throw them away. The other thing you need to be careful about is that when you do cut through them that you don't cut the cable(s) as well. Velcro wraps are a similar kind of thing – they are more expensive but can of course be re-used.
Binder or Cord Clips
Usually plastic or sometimes metal, these simply bind several cables together and you can unclip and add new cables at your leisure. You can get clips that will fasten to a wall – the nail or screw types will usually last longer than the stick on type; the latter have a nasty habit of falling off over time or when you add another cable. You sometimes see crocodile clips being used to hold cables together but this is not a cheap or indeed elegant solution!
Cable Snake or Sleeving
The cable snake performs a similar function to ties or clips. It comes in various lengths – we sell a 1.5 metre length which can be cut to size – and wraps around various cables keeping them neat. You can't use a large number of cables at once, but for most office/PC problems this can be a good-looking and tidy solution. The only drawback to be aware of is that if cables are going in lots of different directions, then this isn't going to help you. Cable sleeving is a similar kind of product and is often made out of nylon fibres so as to have less abrasion. Fancy versions are made of kevlar and used when heat issues are a concern.
Home made 'solutions'
You can sometimes get away with using rubber bands as a short term fix – the trouble is they tend to snap especially if near somewhere warm. Insulating tape is another idea, but once used you will never be able to get the sticky mess off the cable, which will become a magnet for dust.. You can also use twist ties (like you get with a new computer or electrical item) – they are not particularly strong and do look a bit cheap n cheerful.
Moving up a gear, office desk cable trays will provide an elegant solution for directing the cables in the immediate vicinity of your desk underside. They can be made from a sturdy, mesh basket trunking or plastic the latter are slightly easier to clean as it can be wiped. They can be cut to length and are also easy to install and remove.
Indoor Cable Protectors
If you have trailing wire or cable on any floor area that people will walk on, then it is essential to use an office cable protector or routing strip. Usually made of rubber these have a channel which houses the cable and gently sloping edges so that people won't trip on them and allowing easy passage of tea trolleys or office trucks. As well as the universal budget cable protectors, suitable for most office environments, we also sell translucent cable covers which blend into the floor covering. There is also a snap fit routing strip which like most the indoor cable protectors is fire retardant to BS476 Part 7 Class 3 and has non-conductivity to BS903-C5 500V.
Outdoor Cable Protectors
If you have an outdoor area like a car park, private road or driveway where there is pedestrian or vehicle traffic, then you will need to use an external cable protector. We have one of the best ranges of outdoor cable protectors ranging from pedestrian, temporary and heavy duty cable covers – details here. It is worth noting that outdoor cable protectors can also double up as speed ramps or sleeping policemen and have high visibility yellow and black markings and in some cases cats eyes.
The Workplace Depot has a comprehensive collection of cable management products including covers, ties, cable protectors, routing strips and outdoor cable speed ramps – view range here.