How to get the sunlight into my cube?
February 6, 2008 7:50 AM   Subscribe

We've been told for some time at work that we're going to be moved from a second floor, windowless area down to the first floor which is at street level and has floor to ceiling windows looking out at street level. This sounds great! However, I just saw the plans and it appears that the cubicles which we have the option to choose from all have cube-height (six foot?) walls between our chairs and the windows. Think back to Office Space.

I have seniority somewhat in the group and should be able to get a seat right next to a window. But how to deal with that cubicle wall? Is there some sort of curved, parabolic mirror thing I could rig that would get some sunlight into my cube? It has to be tasteful, clean, and not look like something that was just rigged up. Any on the market solutions?
posted by ThinkandDrive to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Pitch to the powers-that-be, that if someone from the outside, or a client walking in, sees just a bunch of cube walls it's quite the turnoff.

That said, I spent years in a cube farm (5' walls, tho) near a window, and plenty of light made it in.
posted by notsnot at 7:56 AM on February 6, 2008

I don't have any specific solution but I worked in an office like that awhile ago. Now I work in an office where all of the cubes are in the middle of the floor and the outside is ringed with offices. The old office had way more ambient light due to the floor-to-ceiling windows, even with cubicle walls next to most of the windows. So you may find it bright enough without a special mirror to bring more light in.

The drawback to getting more direct light into your cube is glare on your monitor. Even with anti-glare coatings, I still get glare if I turn my monitor the wrong way (at home, not in my cave-like cubicle).
posted by cabingirl at 8:01 AM on February 6, 2008

Response by poster: @Notsnot - Yeah. It could end up that the windows are tall enough to let some light in. I was just jazzed at the prospect of being able to look out on the street. We're in downtown next to the harbor, so I'd be able to look out.

The plan is pretty much set in stone given that we're three month behind in making this move.

@cabngirl - True about the glare. Though I plan on getting those privacy-shields which should cut that a little.

I'll just hope for the best and plan for the worst.
posted by ThinkandDrive at 8:07 AM on February 6, 2008

I was just jazzed at the prospect of being able to look out on the street.

Up periscope!
posted by mikepop at 8:17 AM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @mikepop - Hmmmm. . . . That's not such a bad idea.
posted by ThinkandDrive at 8:23 AM on February 6, 2008

Can you ask to have those walls removed/shortened? In all the cube places I've worked, the walls next to windows were either removed entirely (which looked sort of strange if there was a large amount of space between the cube and windows, like there was no boundary to the cube) or it was a lower wall than the others. Sometimes the desks butted up against the windows and the window was a "wall" of the cube. I hope that makes sense.

You'll get a fair amount of light anyway, you just won't be able to look out if the walls are that high.

There's probably some research about light or external viewing being beneficial to employee morale and productivity - couldn't hurt to look for that too. I've found that a window aids my creativity, for example. At the very least, refocusing your eyes every so often reduces strain. And oh my, that lovely harbor is a great way to reduce eye strain.

Sadly, I don't have any mirror solutions for you, sorry.
posted by ml98tu at 8:26 AM on February 6, 2008

You could also ask to get a cube panel with a window in it (either a regular window or at least a window strip at the top).

Failing that, a nice long prism should fit unobtrusively on top.
posted by mikepop at 8:32 AM on February 6, 2008

If things have been completed, couldn't you just request/suggest that the design be altered to include shorter cubicle walls?
posted by Kololo at 8:44 AM on February 6, 2008

How about a wall with frosted glass?
posted by reeddavid at 8:50 AM on February 6, 2008

Seconding short walls on the window side, or no walls at all along that side. Will save money, won't it?
posted by beagle at 8:58 AM on February 6, 2008

Install a porthole and go for a submarine theme.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:24 AM on February 6, 2008

Would light shelves help distribute natural lighting further into the office area, above the cubicles?

Also, a lot of cubes have pop-out panels that you can simply yank out if you are adjacent to the window.
posted by dudeman at 9:29 AM on February 6, 2008

You might want to consider that the walls might have been put in for privacy (i.e. so you don't have people out on the street looking into your offices).

I will also add that a lot of cube walls are made of panels so it would be easy to remove them and leave the space open to the window. Depending on circumstances this may or may not look aesthetically pleasing.
posted by mmascolino at 9:51 AM on February 6, 2008

Response by poster: @mmascolino - We're in the security group. So our windows are going to be tinted, one way windows already. If the cubicles are anything like the ones we're in, they're solid with fabric panels on them. But if not, I'll be doing a little redecorating of my own.

@dudeman - I might actually point the facilities people at these. Though, we're spending a lot of money to move down there. They may not want to add anything.
posted by ThinkandDrive at 10:06 AM on February 6, 2008

Disclaimer: I work for Steelcase

What panel system is it? If you're incredibly lucky, it will be Steelcase's Answer Panel System, in which case you can "destack" the panels and lower the ones nearest the window. Your facilities manager might have to order a part or two, but in the long run it's way cheaper and much more flexible, not to mention more attractive.

See this linkie for more info: Steelcase Answer

Good luck!
posted by Corky at 12:54 PM on February 6, 2008

If you're near the window and you don't have some sort of shade, you'll have horrible glare that makes it impossible to work on a computer.
posted by BeaverTerror at 6:03 PM on February 6, 2008

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