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How To Choose the Right Filing Cabinet for Your Workplace

Discover how to choose the best filing cabinet for your home office by assessing your storage needs, desired aesthetic, and other key factors.

No functional office space stays organized without some sort of filing cabinet or filing system. Even the most beautiful workspace is incomplete without a place to put loose papers, accessories, and files.

It can be frustrating when we can’t find a document we need. Having essential documents at our fingertips makes everything run much smoother. The correct filing cabinet is like the MVP of every organized office space.

There are multiple types of filing cabinets to choose from, and each has its own style and benefits. This guide will give you all the information you need to help you choose between the different types of file cabinets and find the best option for your office space.

How Do You Choose a Filing Cabinet?

Once you’ve decided to get organized in your office and give your paperwork a proper home, there are a few things to consider.

The first question you should ask is, how soon do you need a filing cabinet?

If you’re determined to get organized as quickly as possible, look for in-stock filing cabinets before you fall in love with one that’s not readily available or back-ordered.

Here are three more critical things to consider as you get started:

  • Office design and aesthetic
  • Files and storage needs 
  • Existing workspace and office size

Find a Filing Cabinet That Matches Your Aesthetic


Do your office design and aesthetic affect your overall work productivity and performance? One study from the ASE reported that our work environment, including everything from office furniture to colors in a workspace, can impact our ability to focus and how much work we get done. Considering your personality, style, and existing office furniture pieces is worth noting.

For example, do you favor darker colors, such as rich espresso, or do you lean toward office furniture that’s light and airy, like office desks in white or light grey? Does a splash of color inspire you? Perhaps you’re inspired by a monochrome look and feel but love to add color with details, such as a calming light blue office chair.

Another thing to consider regarding office aesthetics: do you prefer a minimalist workspace with papers and clutter tucked away? Or is it more important for you to see everything with easy access, like open storage, open shelving, or frequently used files that sit on your desk? No matter your style, create a workspace that you love (and one that matches your personality).

How Storage Impacts the Workday

The average person spends 47 hours a week working. Depending on how much time we take off for vacations or sick days, that’s over 2,400 hours a year. That’s a lot of time, especially if you’re sitting in a workspace that feels cluttered and disorganized.

With the 40-hour work week a thing of the past, we need to maximize our time whenever possible. A 2022 survey discovered that employees spend an average of two hours a day trying to track down what they need to get their jobs done, including instructions, digital files, lost papers, and more. Filing solutions can help us turn in projects ahead of time and clock out earlier.

This brings us to our next matter — storage:

Find a Filing Cabinet That Meets Your Storage Needs

You’re a pro at what you do, but you want to focus on your work, not spend time looking through piles of paper. Studies show that office organization may help increase productivity.

Storage solutions, including bookcases and filing cabinets, could help maintain a tidy office. Remember to consider current, and future storage needs when it comes to finding the filing cabinet for you.

For example, what volume of paper do you produce every week or every month? What is your filing process? What types of documents need to be filed? Do you need a storage cabinet for office supplies, including pricey tools like printer ink, too? In that case, you’ll prefer a Credenza with locking capabilities. Or maybe you’d prefer your supplies to be nearby, making the Desktop Organizer a clever fix.

Consider the number of drawers you need and your filing volume; this should give you a good idea of the needed drawer space. The next consideration is reviewing your current workspace.

Find a Filing Cabinet That Fits in Your Office Space

One size does not fit all. Whether you require a small office filing cabinet for your modest home office or you have the luxury of a large corporate workspace with serious filing needs, there’s a filing cabinet for you. Nearly everyone has important documents they need to store, which makes filing cabinets a necessity, and the options are endless.

First, review your office space and any existing office furniture. Decide the best spot for your filing cabinet. Consider how often you need to access files in your cabinet. This should drive filing cabinet placement decisions in your workspace.

Vertical Filing Cabinets

Vertical filing cabinets, space-saving and tower-like in design, are a tried-and-true office storage solution used for years in both home offices and commercial workspaces. Vertical filing cabinets are great for basic filing functions. They have one job — and they do it well.

If your paper filing and storage needs are minimal, you may only need a 2-drawer vertical filing cabinet. Especially with more companies and individuals going towards a paperless file system, two drawers may be all you need for filing. As a space-saving tip, the two-drawer filing cabinet is the perfect perch for a printer, which frees up office desk space.

For those who need a bit more filing cabinet space, vertical filing cabinets are available with 2-drawer filing cabinets, 3-drawer filing cabinets, and up to five drawers. Two-drawer units are typically 29 inches tall, and the five-drawer cabinets are roughly 60 inches in height.

Some people working from home may tuck these larger file towers in a closet, but that can take away much-needed space for clothing, holiday decorations, and other odds and ends.

Lateral Filing Cabinets

If you like the function of a filing cabinet but don’t love the looks of a traditional vertical filing cabinet, you’ve got great options! Welcome to lateral filing cabinets. The 2-drawer lateral filing cabinets are the most popular for home offices, but they also can come with up to five drawers.

Lateral filing cabinets come in basic, budget-friendly filing cabinet designs, and if you’re willing to spend more, you can find beautiful filing cabinets that resemble your best furniture. Lateral filing cabinets accommodate both letter-sized files and legal-sized files.

A 2-drawer lateral filing cabinet also creates additional open surface space for items like a desk caddy or a decorative lamp. This comes in handy if you love a clean, uncluttered office desk. Consider lateral filing cabinets if you pride yourself in having both form and function.

Mobile Filing Cabinets


Mobile filing cabinets are the newest and most-beloved alternative to bulky, cumbersome home storage units. Forget hauling your filing cabinet to the other side of the room when you decide to move it. Mobile filing cabinets come in compact sizes and have under-desk cabinet options. They’re best for a low volume of filing or when you need files close by to access frequently.

Take our Small Filing Cabinet, for instance.

With floor-friendly locking wheels, this two-drawer mobile cabinet is sleek and functional. Each drawer locks separately, and the coated steel unit comes with two separate keys. It holds hanging file folders lengthwise, and the low profile integrates into your space rather than overwhelming it. The curved edges and three colorways (white, onyx, and charcoal) are the height of the minimalist aesthetic.

What Materials are Used To Make Filing Cabinets?


If durability is your top concern with a filing cabinet, you might appreciate a metal filing cabinet, which holds up great over time. Typically made from steel or aluminum, these cabinets are known to be the fire-resistant or fire-proof cabinet variety. Read more about fire safety below.


If you like the look of wood but want to save money for other office essentials, consider laminate or wood veneer. You’ll have an array of color options to choose from, and the money saved could go toward that stylish and comfortable office chair you’ve been dreaming about.

Solid Wood

Solid wood cabinets are timeless; if solid wood filing cabinets fit your budget, they’re a beautiful option that gives a classic vibe. Consider solid wood if you have a sizable budget, and fire-resistant cabinets are not a concern.

What Are the Other Types of Filing Cabinets?

Security — Locking Filing Cabinets

If the security of documents is top-of-mind for you, you’ll want to make sure any style of cabinet you choose has a locking feature. Locking filing cabinets are easy to find in vertical and lateral filing cabinet styles.

Fire-Resistant and Fire-Proof Filing Cabinets

If you’re storing critical documents that you can’t live without or don’t have backup copies, you’ll want to seriously consider a fire-resistant or fire-proof filing cabinet. These cabinets are designed with special insulation that saves time by slowing down how fast the internal temperature increases.

Find the Filing Cabinet for Your Home Office

Whether you’re searching for the perfect filing cabinet to keep your organization on point or looking for an entire set of office furniture, consider your storage needs, review your budget, and put some thought into what office aesthetics inspire you. It’s all part of making the office enjoyable and a productive place to do your best work.


Does Office Layout Affect Productivity | ASE

New Research from Post-it Brand Reveals the Role Organization and Office Supplies Play in Workers' Productivity | Business Wire

The "40-Hour" Workweek Is Actually Longer -- by Seven Hours | Gallup

Employees waste at least 'two hours a day' searching for what they need to work | HRD America

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