Would it be horrible to have an office in a basement?
July 14, 2010 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever worked in an office without windows?

My company is considering moving from our current office to a new building. It's just perfect except for one thing: A large-ish portion of the new office would be in a basement under an outside courtyard. The landlord has told us that they are going to install windows in the ceiling but I'm guessing we won't be able to open them and I don't know how big they are going to be, i.e. much light would actually come through.

Have you ever worked in an office without windows in the walls but only in the ceiling? Is it horrible? What can we do to make it less horrible?
posted by sveskemus to Work & Money (65 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not an office per se, but I spent a summer working 6-hour shifts in the basement of a hospital with no natural light. I was in the records department, pulling the files when the doctors above needed them and putting them back on the shelves when they were sent back down.

I suffer from seasonal affective disorder anyway, and found that missing the best of the summer daylight left me feeling incredibly depressed. I wouldn't do a job like that again personally.
posted by Ted Maul at 7:46 AM on July 14, 2010

I am in an office without windows right now. Personally, I don't find it so bad - the climate control is pretty consistent, and it keeps my office relatively free of distractions.

The problem? My office is relatively free of distractions. The only thing I have to stare at is my computer screen, which can lead to a devastating cycle of poor posture and glazed eyes. With a window, you can stare out and pretend you're crunching a really big thought. Without one, you have to stare at the wall like a crazy person, or just gaze at mefi, only moving to hit the F5 key.
posted by Think_Long at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've worked in a historical archive and a darkroom, both without windows, and neither drove me crazy at all. My jobs differed from yours in that having no sunlight was kind of necessary for the work, but even so I didn't miss sunlight at all while working. I did eat lunch outside, though (which is something I try to do even when my offices do have sunlight), so I'm sure that helped a lot.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:48 AM on July 14, 2010

Yes. I'm in one at this very minute. I hate it. Windows in the ceiling would help, depending on placement, but staring at a wall all day really drives me nuts. If I work through lunch, I go extra crazy, and have a weird moment of disorientation when I leave because I have no idea what the weather is like or if it's light or dark out etc etc.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:48 AM on July 14, 2010

I've been working in a basement for over 9 years now. It's not so bad, really. Sure, I'd prefer windows, but it's not like I can't get out for lunch or breaks or whatever. Skylights would be a luxury, for sure.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:50 AM on July 14, 2010

I used to work in an office with no window (it was on the 8th floor, but an inside office). I hung a big poster-sized photo of the beautiful view out of an actual window on that floor in my office, to kind of give the illusion that I had a window.

But anyway, bottom line: it wasn't a big deal not to have a window.
posted by amro at 7:52 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I currently have a cubicle with no window access. The only windows are available to offices that ring the building, so us grunts get the shaft. There is an atrium with a skylight I can walk out to if I need some indication that the rest of the world still exists.

It can certainly suck sometimes, especially in winter - the shortest days of the year, I'm at work before sunrise and leave just in time to see the sun set. I could go a whole week without seeing any natural light. Right this very moment, all of the overhead lights are turned off in an effort to keep the temperature down (the HVAC system has broken again), so it's pitch black in my cube except for the glow from my monitors. My old cube had lights built into the cabinets, but this one doesn't for some reason.

So, yes, it can drain on you. If you do move to this office, you may want to bring in some framed photographs and a sun lamp.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:56 AM on July 14, 2010

My company consolidated offices. My old (first floor) office had windows. The office space in the new building is on the third floor, with floor to ceiling windows- nice! About the time we were moving to the new building, my project came to an end and I was reassigned to a new site with.... no windows. From the outside the building resembles a prison.

It's not so bad though, and now that I'm used to it, it's not even an issue.

I sure wish I could get back to that other office at some point though.
posted by Doohickie at 7:57 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked for three years in an office without windows. The whole building only had windows across the front few offices, so there was no window visibility from anywhere inside unless one of them had their door open. It's weird having no idea all day what the weather's like without having to go out to the parking lot, but I wouldn't say I found it exceptionally traumatic.

I used lamps (with daylight/broad spectrum bulbs) in my office rather than the overhead fluorescents so I wasn't awash in cold blue light all day. I think that helped quite a bit. Out in the cube farm area, the lighting was a lot nicer than in the actual offices along the walls.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:57 AM on July 14, 2010

I spent 3 years in an office w/o windows and it was awful. I'd never do it again. I need natural light.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2010

Currently my work is only windowless when I'm doing several-week-long experimental shifts in the lab -- most of the year I have a window. I'm from northern latitudes, so it doesn't bother me much except that without any natural light cues, my circadian rhythms get utterly destroyed and I can't sleep properly for a week or so after coming off shift. This was worse when even my office was windowless.

Two things helped me:
-- Except when I have an experiment actively needing attention, I can get up and walk around pretty much whenever I want, including ducking outside for a sunshine break.
-- I respond pretty well to those fake-daylight lamps. Caveat: we looked into having those put in in all the basement labs and some people vehemently objected that they found the light quality more depressing than standard fluorescents, so maybe that would be something to do on a room-by-room/cube-by-cube basis.
posted by dorque at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2010

I've worked on the basement floor of an office building and in a couple of buildings where, for egalitarianism's sake, no offices had windows (there were hallways around the edges of each floor, with all the offices in the middle). Both offices were brightly-lit and reasonably-recently-decorated, and were fine as far as I was concerned. I've seen dark and dingy basement offices where I'd hate to work, though.
posted by magicbus at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2010

I had a windowless interior office for a while at one company I worked with. It wasn't a big deal at the time, because I was living in Houston and had plenty of opportunities to get out and get daylight while commuting, after work, and at lunch. It would have been a problem while I was living in New Jersey, where I was having trouble getting enough sunlight in the winter even with windows.
posted by immlass at 7:59 AM on July 14, 2010

The only windows are available to offices that ring the building, so us grunts get the shaft.

That new building I mentioned? The manager offices are all in the central core- no windows at all, and the grunts in the cube farm occupy the space between the core and the windows. This was by the design of the site manager. Nice guy.
posted by Doohickie at 7:59 AM on July 14, 2010

I work in a high school that is a bit of an underground bunker. It's a vocational school so the concentrations that require outside access [auto sho, wood shop] get the outside wals. I worked 5-ish hours per day in a classroom that had windows into the other classroom and doorways into the hall but no real light. It was okay. I liked the climate control. There were a lot of nice posters on the walls. I could have used a bit more non-flourescent lighting though and I think if I had it to do over, I'd bring in a few nice floor lamps or something. Having skylights would have made a big difference but as it was it was only really a problem in winter where I'd wake up, go over there and by the time I'd get out it was nighttime.
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 AM on July 14, 2010

I work in a cubicle in an office without windows. I set appointments in my calendar to get up and go for a walk periodically to keep myself sane. It makes a big difference. (Get a drink of water too when you're up to take the break walk.)

Some of my coworkers use incandescent / full-spectrum lamps and say it helps them cope with the lack of natural light, but I don't personally find that they make that much difference (but then I've never felt the twitchiness some folks report under long-term fluorescent lighting).

Someone upthread mentioned art, and I do find that having a couple good prints hanging in the cube helps. (Currently have a Mars Rover mars-scape, a color laser printout of the prehistoric horse paintings from Chauvet cave, and Paul Klee's "Fish Magic".)
posted by aught at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2010

I've been working in a completely windowless office for most of the last 7 years. It's not as bad as you'd think. But I definitely have experienced that weird moment of disorientation when leaving for the day. I never know what I'm going to encounter outside.

Even if we did have windows, the scenery would not be very uplifting. We'd either be staring at the day hab center or the dodgy auto parts supplier.
posted by mgkk at 8:08 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in an interior office for years that didn't have a window. What helped was having sidelights on the doors (panels of glass on either side) so that closing the door didn't feel like entering a tomb.

Having light sources other than the overhead fluorescents helped a lot. It feels pretty cozy with an incandescent floor lamp in the office.
posted by xingcat at 8:09 AM on July 14, 2010

I started my career in a building without windows. Well, it actually had windows but they were covered up on both sides. We only knew they were there in the winter because the renovation didn't include insulation and the cold wind blew threw them.

The door to the roof had a window so you could see the sky. I found myself checking it on a regular basis. It was often a race to that stairway every time we heard something to see what was going on outside. People really need to see the outdoors on a regular basis.

I've never worked anywhere since where I couldn't see outside from my desk.
posted by tommasz at 8:13 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in the basement of a building for quite a few years. It was unpleasant, though I sort of got used to it. When we moved to another building and I once again had a window seat, I realized how much better my mood was at work just from that one change.

The one advantage was that it was far enough from most of the rest of the company that the number of people stopping by my desk to interrupt me about something important decreased greatly when I was moved to the basement. Amazing how many important things weren't important enough to get on the elevator for!

The biggest problem was in that huge blackout in the summer of 2003. We discovered, the hard way, that the emergency lights didn't work at all. It was very difficult to get out of there in total darkness. If you do end up in a basement without windows (they've said they'll put some in, but what if they don't?), just make sure you've got a wind-up flashlight somewhere you can find it by feel.
posted by FishBike at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2010

I work in a windowless office. I'd prefer a window, but I also hardly ever think about the fact that I don't have one. The key seems to be the lighting. I can't stand a fluorescent light if there's no natural light coming in also, so as xingcat mentioned, I use an incandescent lamp. It's darker in here than it would be with the overhead lighting, but the softness of the light makes my office feel warm and inviting.
posted by spinto at 8:21 AM on July 14, 2010

I haven't had to work in this environment exactly, but I see it in my distant future, and I'm not looking forward to it. I imagine that some of these might help get me through the day; perhaps they'd help you, too:

—Get out for lunch. This is a little harder in the colder months (if, like me, you prefer to bring lunch from home), but it's a nice way to refresh.
—Get up and move around once in a while. Actually, that's good advice for anyone stuck at a desk all day long.
—Low-light plants. I gather from what you've said that you will eventually have something pouring at least little natural light into the place. If it's particularly rough (I'm not sure how well even low-light plants would do with only unnatural light), perhaps a moss terrarium?
—Small fishtank. Again, something to breathe a little life into your office/cube. Whether your job will allow it is, of course, another story.
—Good lighting, as mentioned above. My current job wouldn't let me bring in my own lighting, but yours might.
posted by divisjm at 8:21 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's not so bad if it is kept light and airy feeling. Light colored walls, live plants, etc.
I worked in one such basement for a long time.

But across the way, the other building's basement offices had been done in some kind of industrial style chic: exposed pipes, dark spray textured walls. It was truly awful. The workers there adopted the mushroom as the office mascot, and wore cave bear slippers. It was really all they could do to make light of a horrible space.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:22 AM on July 14, 2010

My current office is windowless, but the hallway immediately outside has skylights. I've only been here a week, but several other people on my floor don't have windows either, and I don't see them finding it awful.

Perhaps you can enhance the illusion of being closer to the outside world with music, or ambient sounds; fragrances that you like and are familiar with; and photos of expanses of space or places that have happy vacation memories, etc.
posted by Everydayville at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in an office with no windows of any kind for a year. I made it bearable by occasionally going outside for a brief walk around the building for 10 minutes or so.
posted by Lobster Garden at 8:24 AM on July 14, 2010

And to add to divisjm's suggestion, another good low-light plant is a poinsetta. We had one that lived in the office for the whole year and grew quite big.
posted by Lobster Garden at 8:25 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in an interior office in a big loft space. The offices around the perimeter and some of the common areas had windows and natural light. My office had zero natural light.

The saving grace was that the ceiling was really high, and we would turn off the overhead fluorescent lights and brought in lamps and lights of our own. I bought a couple floor lamps and a desk lamp from Ikea. Nice, clean light you could adjust.

If they had made us use the fluorescents, I wouldn't have lasted there five years.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:28 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in a windowless office for ten years up here in Minnesota. When the days got short, you could easily go all workweek without seeing daylight. It got a little stir crazy, but after you got used to it, it just seemed like part of our lot in life living up north. Now, I work in a cube farm with tons of natural light and it makes me pretty happy. All told, I don't think a windowless office is a deal breaker, but natural light is a nice perk.
posted by advicepig at 8:29 AM on July 14, 2010

Yes. It's not so bad. In fact, I was glad I didn't have a draft.
posted by anniecat at 8:32 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in a windowless office (converted from a large supply closet!) for almost four years with no negative consequences. I enjoyed my job well enough that my crappy office didn't bother me.
posted by applemeat at 8:33 AM on July 14, 2010

I spent a year and a half working in a windowless basement office at a hospital. It wasn't my favorite thing, but it wasn't as bad as you might think. In my case I had a fair amount of freedom to get up every once in a while and stretch my legs or get a snack from the cafeteria, and being able to get out and take in some actual daylight made me appreciate my breaks quite a bit more.

Posters and daylight spectrum lights are your friends.
posted by usonian at 8:33 AM on July 14, 2010

I do now. I put up two large (24" x 36" maybe) posters on the wall in front of my workstation. These are my "windows": one is a picture of Mt. Fuji through a window, and the other is an impressionistic meadow. It works fine to look up and give my eyes a break.
posted by Prairie at 8:35 AM on July 14, 2010

I moved from California to New York in 2004. I lived in a basement apartment, took the subway to work, and my office was in the basement of a hospital. I saw maybe an hour's worth of sunlight a day.

I had the WORST case of SAD in my life that winter. I usually get glum in the winter. The light's all wrong and there's no trees or green. This was a million times worse. It was the suicidal, self-harming, can't do anything, kind of depressed.

I moved back to California in January and pretty much never looked back.

So yeah, it might be horrible to have an office in a basement. You might be able to manage it as long as you get outside for breaks and lunches, and as long as you don't live or commute underground too.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:35 AM on July 14, 2010

I think this is a fairly personal thing. I've worked (and even lived) in windowless environments on several occasions and not only was it just fine, but also, it never even occurred to me that it could be a cause for distress; however, I have some colleagues who have recently been re-located to a semi-windowless office and some of them act like no greater slight could have been committed towards them.

Another job I had involved actually booking rooms for people, and some of them absolutely refused to be put in windowless rooms; others didn't care. For the people who are bothered by lack of windows, bright lighting and opportunity to get outside now helps.
posted by Polychrome at 8:41 AM on July 14, 2010

I have a windowless office. I love it. I'm currently in it, in the dark. (no overhead lights - no light at all except for what leaks in from the hallway and the mostly-black computer monitors.)

I am not the average use case.
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2010

I've worked in a windowless office for 5 years (I'm in it right now). We're in the attic of an old building. The office across from us has skylights- it is often bright and sunny in there, but it does tend to get hot in the summer. I would like my office a lot better if we had skylights, so you're fortunate if they are being installed in yours.

It's not too bad, but I live in a naturally sunless place (Minnesota) so I am used to it. I do get annoyed about not knowing what the weather is unless I look it up online.
posted by castlebravo at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in an office with no exterior windows once but mine had a large interior window, looking out into the reception area and I could look out across that into the offices (doors were usually left open) that were on the exterior with windows. So that was okay.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:17 AM on July 14, 2010

My last two workspaces were windowless and although I didn't bother me that much, like others I made a point of getting up and walking around to other offices when I needed to see some light. Other people took smoke breaks, so I took regular light breaks.

The lack of windows didn't bother me or depress me, but I did wonder what the weather was doing during the day. One winter I finally came up for a break and discovered it had been snowing most of the day and I didn't have a clue it was happening. It took me hours to get home when I probably would have left a little earlier if I'd known.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 9:19 AM on July 14, 2010

I've worked in windowless offices a few times, twice in a basement. It's not so bad at all. For one of the basement offices, I bought a large, cheap framed poster of a window looking out at the sea - looked to be in Greece or some such - and everyone used to comment on it when they came into my office. When I moved out if that office, the new person asked if she could please keep the picture. Of course I said yes.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:19 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in a lab in the center of a building for a few years. We often had no idea what the weather was like outside. It is odd to finish work and then go outside to realize that six inches of snow have fallen. Speaking of winter, the fact that you arrive at work in the dark and leave work in the dark makes you even more likely to have trouble with SAD. A room that has no windows does not allow you to deal with malfunctioning heating and cooling. We didn't have a thermostat and it would often take days if not weeks to get the HVAC guys to alter the temperature. We were also in a position where the offices on the outside of the building had their doors shut so we couldn't just take a walk in the corridor to see the sun.

Having skylights will likely help with this - although I'd be cautious because skylights often leak. Be sure to position electronics and people away from drip zones. With some natural light or installation of some natural light bulbs, you should be able to have plants in the office. Having something green and alive should help. If everyone is sitting at a computer, set the default screen background to something nice and leafy.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:20 AM on July 14, 2010

I've worked in a lot of theatres- both cinema and stage, which almost never have any windows. It's weird to leave a sunny day and emerge into twilight at the end of a workday, I'll say that for sure. I didn't really like it, but I liked the work so I stayed.

Use bright incandescent or halogen bulbs around your workspace.
Take a walk outside at least once a day and walk so the sun is shining in your eyes.
Get out a lot in the mornings before work and on weekends.
Take Vitamin D supplements to compensate for the lack of sunshine.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:22 AM on July 14, 2010

I teach in a classroom two floors below ground. Lack of windows hasn't been a problem at all. Actually, its probably a good thing - I've got more wall space than I would with windows!
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:23 AM on July 14, 2010

I'm underground right now. Imagine a space the size of a whole city block underground. To be honest it isn't bad. The ceilings are 15 feet high, lots of good lighting and the floor plan is varied with lots of different spaces and large arching hallways.
posted by mmascolino at 9:42 AM on July 14, 2010

Having some natural light (in the form of skylights) can make all the difference. Many office buildings have windows that are hermetically sealed anyway, so not being able to open them is not too unusual. In my experience of working in an office without windows or skylights, it's the relentless fluorescent glow and no natural light input at all that really got me down. And it truly, truly got me down.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:52 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in a cube in a windowless office for almost a year. I didn't like it, but it wasn't totally horrible. I made trips outside every few hours, and I kept the Monterey Bay Cam loaded in a browser tab.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:57 AM on July 14, 2010

I worked in a space without windows for a while - a cube for a year, and then a shared windowless office that also doubled as the printer room/storage. As long as I could step outside for a few minutes every day (a four minute walk around the block can do wonders) it wasn't that bad. On the other hand, I just moved into a new office this week that does have windows and natural light actually does make a huge difference. If you're working at a screen, though, being away from windows isn't that awful, at least for me.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:01 AM on July 14, 2010

Yep, for about 3 years. It was fine.
posted by gaspode at 10:31 AM on July 14, 2010

I'm working in one right now. I think the worst part is the overhead flourescent lights. I often wish I could keep them off and just use a nice UV lamp. I don't like the color of the lights and it feels like my eyes have suffered because of it. I highly recommend getting up and moving when you can. I still may find a nice lamp and I often joke about some wall-sized photos to look at instead of my blank cubicle walls.
posted by mcarthey at 10:36 AM on July 14, 2010

I've had workspaces that aren't anywhere near windows, and my boyfriend works in a basement of a hospital. As long as they are well-lit, it's not bad at all.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:37 AM on July 14, 2010

i think i've only had one job that had a window - and at that one half way through my time there they put huge cube walls blocking the windows so people wouldn't fight over who got the window cubicles.
posted by nadawi at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2010

Yes, open-plan office, no windows. It isn't the WORST thing ever, but I really don't enjoy it and consequently work from home 90+ percent of the time. The lack of windows aren't the only thing that encourage me to work from home, but they are a factor.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:54 AM on July 14, 2010

Yes, and the time an armed robber held up the payroll office, the police didn't bother to evacuate our area because, and I quote, "oh! why would people be in THERE?"
posted by Sallyfur at 11:05 AM on July 14, 2010

My high school had no windows except in a couple of hallways. As long as it's bright enough and you move around, it's not an issue.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:14 AM on July 14, 2010

I think it comes down to if you're bothered by lack of natural light or not. Some people get really depressed without sunlight. I don't seem to be affected. I worked in an inside, windowless office for 5 years and loved it compared to my current sunny-but-open-floor-plan office (so many more distractions now). But I'm a night owl and don't get much sun on weekends either.

It seems that you live in Denmark -- I assume you're used to long nights and such in the winter? Does that bother you? If you don't get seasonal affective disorder or anything you'll probably be fine.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:49 AM on July 14, 2010

I was sad about it in the summer, but didn't mind it so much, since I got sun before work, and at lunch, and in the evening. In the winter, when I'd get to work before the sun rose and left before the sun set, and when it was too cold to really go outside for lunch, it was depressing.
posted by jeather at 11:57 AM on July 14, 2010

Half of my office (and unfortunately me by the fall, as they are forcing me to move) work in a basement. I have been told that nobody likes it. Sigh. From what I have seen, the lighting is fine, but it takes you longer to get out of the building and you can't check what's going on weatherwise to see if you need coat/umbrella before you hike upstairs to get out. I especially don't look forward to that last one. Not that I can look out the windows here either (I'm in a cube in the middle and those with window offices like to keep their doors locked), but at least I could easily walk over to the front door and do a weather check.

I don't think ceiling windows (whatever the hell those are) are going to help the problem, really. You're still not going to be able to see outside.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:40 PM on July 14, 2010

I've worked in windowless offices because the work (desktop and film editing types stuff) required that we have light that didn't interfere with the screens, and that pesky sun can really run around messing with ones eyes. These were rooms without windows though, the hallways etc had windows, which made the trip to the coffeemachine quite nice. Lights in the room, and color in the rooms became very important so if you do choose to get the basement office, invest in really good lighting (the color of the bulbs is important) and some colorful touches that make sense with what you have and need (funky waiting couch, bright lunch tabletops, colorful chairs, big mdf boards dressed with designer textiles you can use to stick notes too, that sort of thing.)
posted by dabitch at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2010

My junior high school was something of a concrete bunker, newly built in 1972 with only a few slivers of windows on some outside walls. The place was air-conditioned, which apparently was part of the reason we didn't need windows(?) Anyway, I got used to that sort of environment at an early age. My first job (lasted 5 1/2 years) was in a similar style office building, where only certain outer-most offices had windows. The only time I got a glimpse of the outdoors was when I relieved the switchboard operator, as the switchboard was just off the lobby which had a number of windows. It was always a surprise to give her her 4:00 break and see that it was cloudy outside, or snowing, or whatever. I had no inkling of the weather otherwise (unless there was very loud thunder). In subsequent years I've alternated between offices with windows, with limited windows and with no windows and to tell you the truth, I've never really noticed any sort of overall difference in my personal comfort. The only major impression I've ever had over the years is the times I've exited the building to find that it had been apparently snowing for some time and sighed the weary sigh of the person who has to spend another 10 minutes or so brushing off and warming up the car before she can go home.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:18 PM on July 14, 2010

Yes, just finished working for 14 months in a windowless box under a direct fluorescent tube. At first it depressed me but after a month or so I became numb to it.

My only advice is to take any breaks to which you're entitled, and go outside.
posted by zadcat at 2:35 PM on July 14, 2010

I have worked with windows and without. Not a big deal to not have a window. The issue is climate control and ventilation; good climate control and ventilation makes any office ok. Windows can be annoying: glare, heat, sun in your eyes.
posted by fifilaru at 3:23 PM on July 14, 2010

FWIW I love working without windows, it feels like time stops. I recommend getting some high quality full spectrum lights though.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 4:10 PM on July 14, 2010

My current office is on the main aisle of a manufacturing facility. I do have a window but it looks onto the aisle where there's a lot of foot traffic and an occasional towmotor. It's a little like sitting next to a window onto a city street. There are other offices on the other side of the "street" so it's a bit like a neighborhood.

I'm not a fan of the industrial lighting but office services was kind enough to take a few tubes out of the overhead fixtures to cut down on the harshness. For a little boost of sunshine, I have a framed photo of a local beach on the wall across from my window. And while I can't keep a web cam loaded, I occasionally take a look at the traffic cams on the local news site to see if I need to have an umbrella or my sunglasses in hand when I leave the building.

While I'd love a beautiful view, I'm used to the interior sights. In the winter when I arrive in the dark and often leave in the dark, I make an effort to get outside and breathe in some fresh air once or twice a day. Seeing the sun only on the weekends definitely affects my mood.
posted by contrariwise at 5:48 PM on July 14, 2010

I work at a game development studio ( incidentally, this came on in the in-game radio while I was reading this. I'm not kidding ). We have windows into more office, but no outside light. Lunchtime breaks to maintain sanity are essential, as other people have suggested. I try to run/cycle/walk to and from work as much as possible to get a bit of outdoors every day.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:04 PM on July 14, 2010

I worked in an office with no windows for three months (the floor had plenty of windows, but I was in an internal room far away from them - four brick walls and a glass wall facing an unwindowed corridor.)

In winter, it really sucks. It is dark as you drive to work, and dark as you drive home, so the only time you see the sun is at lunchtime, which can be quite depressing if you have even the smallest of tendencies to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

You get tired much earlier than if you had natural light.

And there is no where to look into the distance and rest your eyes - important if your work involves staring at a computer screen all day.
posted by Year of meteors at 7:02 PM on July 14, 2010

What other people said: go outside during lunch. If it's possible to bike to work, do. If it's not, consider keeping your bike at the office during the week and going for a ten-minute ride once or twice a day (I find this way more invigorating and refreshing than walking around the block a couple of times).
posted by jalexc at 7:24 PM on July 14, 2010

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