Working in a small space is not the worst case scenario – as long as it has a window. Yet, perhaps your workspace lacks a window because you live in a cheap rental apartment, temporarily live with parents, or are required to go back to your corporate office. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can enhance a windowless office. But assuming that you can’t make substantial or permanent changes to your space, what can you do to survive?
Quick Ways to Improve Your Working Environment
The best ways to improve a windowless room are to make it feel brighter, vibrant, and more spacious. However, if you could not shift in new equipment, repaint walls, or install permanent light fixtures, you can still find ways to survive. The odds are good that you can make small changes, such as bringing in a desk lamp or some plants.
Small improvements can go a long way to make your workspace more inviting, more ergonomic, and more productive.
One simple way to survive is to keep tea, coffee, and healthy beverages close. A mini kitchen would be great for healthy food prep. (Avocado sandwich, anyone?) But otherwise, replace your sugary drinks with non-sugar, clean beverages. Healthy tea can serve as the energiser you need to blitz through afternoons when you feel unmotivated in your windowless room.
Another way to make your workspace more inviting is to brighten it up with a desk lamp (and some RGB light strips if you are able to install them). Swing arm desk lamps are portable and easy to use. A dark workspace causes strain to your eyes, so adding task lights at your desk would make it more ergonomic and enjoyable.
Coloured lighting will be great, as colours affect mood. You can be more productive by using the right colour lighting, depending on the nature of your work. If you can afford to change up the colour of your walls or desk, here are some basic ideas:
- Use adjustable LED bulbs which are dimmable and multi-coloured like the LIFX 1100-Lumen
- Install LED light strips at the back of your computer, under your shelves, or at the corners of your walls
Leave music playing in the background. At a low volume, music that has a good beat to it can make you more productive. Ensure that there are no voices. Lyrics can enter your subconscious and mess with your concentration. Instead, create a playlist with just music (classical works best) and play these songs on a loop, and listen to the rhythm and beat.
Alternatively, you can choose to use a white noise sound machine. It is a sound machine designed to produce a variety of calming background sounds. They can make a range of white noise (like a whirring fan or humming air conditioner) or even nature sounds (like rain, waves, and chirping birds).
If there are other people around, you can look up any white noise playlist online, plug in a headset, and listen to it as you work.
Personalise your desk
In a small windowless office, you need to counter the lethargy and motivation issues you might face. One way to do so is via personalising your desk. For example, you can do so with decor and content, fun gadgets, and plants.
Decor and content
Before you add decor, you should consider the minimalist way – remove all the stuff you do not need. After you have done so, space is created, so you can intentionally shape your desk area. As a goal-oriented person, I lean towards stuff like Post-it notes, weekly habit trackers, and the use of affirmations and quotes to remind myself of the important. But do you – add whatever gives you the inspiration and motivation to work.
If action figures and Rubiks cubes are your thing, be sure to include them. Toys can serve as decor and make a space feel alive. So do photos, fake plants, massage balls, candles, and artwork.
Fun Desk Gadgets
Desk gadgets can make your windowless office more bearable to work in. What you want is a desk that is inviting but yet organised, safe, and ergonomic. Hence, choose your gadgets wisely and make sure you know why it is there, on your desk.
You do not want to hinder productivity with too many distracting tools, but these gadgets will likely not go wrong:
- Daylight lamp or light therapy lamp
- Headphones and headphone stand
- Cable management box
- Ergonomic tools such as a split keyboard and thumb trackball mouse
- An extra screen for working, such as a tablet or phone
Without a window, you may go without sunlight for long periods of the day. A fun, somewhat effective solution that uplifts your mood is a daylight lamp or a light therapy lamp. These LED daylight lamps are designed to simulate sunlight and not only deliver mood-enhancing natural light, but also reportedly improve sleep by benefiting your circadian rhythms. You can set a timer and use the lamp during the day for more restful nights.
For tidiness, a cable management box keeps your desk tidy by keeping your cables well-managed and hidden. A headphone stand is a convenient accessory that keeps your desk looking sleek.
Ergonomic tools like a thumb trackball mouse help out your wrists and arms, so that they do not have to move about as much.
An extra screen, such as a tablet, gives you the options to 1) multitask (read, research on a separate device, 2) have additional screen space for easier viewing of documents, and 3) benefit from entertainment.
Gadgets can be distracting but when you are stuck in a windowless office, having these gadgets make working more enjoyable (and probably more productive).
Plants make your office without windows feel more alive, vibrant, and homely. There are low-light varieties that are hardy and low maintenance, such as the popular Pothos plant, ZZ plant, Snake plant and many more. If you are concerned about their growth, you can use an LED grow light bulb and set it up over your plant.
If you are working in a windowless corporate office, your management would likely be more tolerant of low-light plants as compared to other gadgets, toys, and other decor.
After all, plants are known to boost productivity and reduce sick days.
Set Good Work Habits
The least expensive methods of surviving an office without windows entail good work habits. Without a window, you do not have exposure to the weather and scenery outside. Time can pass in a blur, and you can fall into a slump if you feel unmotivated.
This is why you should establish healthy working hours. Come up with a “work routine” that helps you get things done. It can be a series of “do this, then that”, set up in a systematic way so that you can be fast and efficient. For example, you want to check your email for a maximum of 1-2 times in the day, and then you’re done, leave it and move on.
Any form of systems, work routines, and work-life boundaries will help. You can also set a specific time to get outside and get sunlight. Vitamin D supplementation is very important if you work for most of the day.
Take walks. This is an opportunity to multitask (make the best use of time) as there are many things you can do while walking:
- Make work calls
- Plan your calendar on your phone
- Problem solve by contemplating a problem (this applies to knowledge workers)
- Brainstorm for ideas
Thus, you can get exercise done and be insanely productive. You just have to be more intentional, if you work in a windowless workspace.
In conclusion, make no mistake that it is better to have a window – it will make a difference in your sense of well-being. You may not realise this if you have been working in a windowless space all along, until you make the change.
Without a window, there are ways to survive. Just try to maximise your environmental setup, bring in portable stuff such as lighting and plants, personalise your room, and set up good work habits.