Money, power, prestige: a corner office brings obvious advantages. But thanks to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, we now know there are also some hidden advantages. Turns out that people who work in sunlit offices clock more sleep and exercise and measure lower blood pressure than those who don’t. So your boss isn’t just richer than you — she’s probably healthier, too. Because you needed another excuse to try and climb that promotional ladder, right?
In light of this new research, you might want to clock a few more hours in order to gain that natural advantage. And since you’ll probably be spending more time in your cubicle in order to do that, we’ve put together a few helpful tips for turning that drab cubicle into a healthy workspace. For now, anyhow.
Let the sunshine in…or something like it
Daylight is essential to your circadian rhythm’s natural flow. Without it, your body has a hard time knowing when and how much to sleep, and tends to come up short. Real sunlight is best, but if you don’t have a window near your desk (or bad weather is scaring the sun away), consider installing a full-spectrum UV light to mimic its effects.
Remember vitamin sun
It’s not just the light that makes sunshine so healthful: it’s the vitamin-D production it kick starts, too. Adequate vitamin-D intake staves off muscle and bone weakness, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Talk to your doctor about the best amount for you, and keep a bottle at your desk so you never forget your daily dose of sunshine.
Create a view
We all know that being in nature is an amazing de-stressor, but research shows that even looking at pictures of nature can improve cognitive performance. So if your cubicle lacks a window, make one. Who knows? Maybe your beautiful picture of a mountain lake will be more relaxing than your boss’s city view.
Plant it yourself
Hanging a reasonable facsimile of nature on your wall is nice, but including a real plant on your desk is even nicer. Studies show that desktop greenery doesn’t just clean the air: it improves cognitive function and productivity, too. Keep things simple with an easy species like a cactus, ivy or spider plant.
One of the reasons windowed offices are healthier is that people who work in them are more likely to exercise. Bridge the difference by adopting a regular deskercise routine — yes, dance breaks count — and by using your lunch hour to walk outside. If your company will spring for a treadmill or standing desk, let them!
The best desk is the desk you can leave. If your position allows you to schedule your own meetings, then take them outside. The office boardroom may be convenient, but planning your meeting at a nearby coffee shop is a legitimate way to sneak in extra fitness and fresh air.