3

I love natural light, open blinds, and outside views while I'm working. Given the only questions I found here, I do realize I'm in the minority. In a building of 300 people, not a single blind is open. I work in an open office space with floor to ceiling windows. Quite literally, windows are the walls. We have a beautiful view of the mountains and a gorgeous pond on our property. And yet, every. single. blind. is. closed. Even my coworkers who begged for a window seat, regularly close the blinds.

I struggle with my mental health (my employer doesn't know) and having natural light is proven to help (it does!). If I open just the blind my desk is against, I could affect up to 15 or 20 people with the light. The person right across from me is constantly complaining about the light and lowers the blinds at any given chance.

I know people are more sensitive to light than I am. I know people can't see if sun is glaring on their screens. I know it can raise the temperature of the building (which upsets the male population considerably, while the females are wrapped in blankets... but that's another topic.) Open blinds would undoubtedly hinder their work, where as having the blinds closed doesn't necessarily hinder my work (noticeably at least, my mood is affected which often makes me work slower, or makes it harder to concentrate).

So, my question is, how can I feel okay about asking to open the blinds? Or should I learn to live with it?

Edit: Perhaps I simply want suggestions for a way to compromise. I know I’m not the only one here who wouldn’t mind the blinds open, but I’m too afraid to ask because of the reasons every answer and comment here provides. Even when the sun is on the other side of the building, it’s cloudy out, and an hour away from sunset, they prefer the blinds closed. Is there anyway I could approach those nearest to me asking if we could open them from, say, 4:30-5:30? (Maybe without bringing up my mental health, given the stigmas around it making me look selfish.)

  • 1
    You have given lots of reasons why it's better to leave the blinds closed, and only one reason (your own personal desire) to have the blinds open. What exactly do you want us to tell you that you haven't already figured out yourself? – David K Dec 7 '18 at 18:38
  • 2
    His personal desire is a reason to have the blinds open. It may well not be a good enough reason, but there's no reason not to ask. – David Thornley Dec 7 '18 at 19:03
  • 3
    You may be working with vampires... be careful, garlic necklace may help – Kilisi Dec 7 '18 at 19:09
  • 6
    <rant>Yet another reason why open plan offices are a really, really bad idea.</rant> – Patricia Shanahan Dec 7 '18 at 19:13
  • 2
    @PatriciaShanahan don't worry - the rest of the world is catching on smh.com.au/business/workplace/… – HorusKol Dec 7 '18 at 22:10
8

Just a thought - in a building of 300 people, you're probably not the only one who would prefer at least some blinds be open.

Is there any way you can find them?

It may be possible to shuffle a few seating assignments around so all the people who want the extra light sit next to each other. An open blind or two in that area would be welcome.

You might want to talk to your boss about this. Don't spin it as "I want more light", or "mental health - I want more light". Spin it as "hey boss - cheap perk - let those who want more light have it"

Management will hear you better if you're representing the desires of 20 or 30 people instead of just yourself.

  • In addition to moving light-loving people into a place with more light, you can propose to set up cheap room dividers or paravents to ensure that light-sensitive people are not bothered by the glare – Elmy Dec 8 '18 at 7:39
  • There are others who side with me. We don’t have much control over where we arrange ourselves due to the need to remain in certain groups or pods. But we are gathering and working towards starting a discussion to see what changes we can make :) – Gwendolyn Dec 10 '18 at 20:09
4

I'm afraid there isn't a good interpersonal approach to deal with this.

Ask youself, why all those blinds are closed? Maybe because all the walls are basically windows, so it's even way too much enlighted.

If you open those blinds, you'll upset your coworker because you make their monitors glaring, thus impeding their work. This is probably the worst thing you can do in a workplace. People have already long hours working in an office sitted all day, they want to do it comfortably.

As I see this the only way to achieve your objective is to search a way to organize the monitors in a way that doesn't upset your coworker and effectively eliminate the glares, other than that you will probably have to resist. As per the temperature this is always a problem everywhere, at school, at work, in public transportations... what is cold for you cam be hot for others. In this case if you're in summer you will be probably have to either open the windows or increase the AC, which could be difficult in an office populated by 300 souls...

I suggest you to simply desist or try to open the blinds in a way that doesn't affect anyone. If no one of my suggested solutions is practicable then insisting on this could hurt your relationship with your colleagues. In the end it's not a big deal.

  • I wouldn’t say that it’s not a big deal, since I know a handful of others here in a similar position as me, but I appreciate the other points you make. Majority wins in the workplace. – Gwendolyn Dec 7 '18 at 18:07
3

I have a different approach than opening versus closing the blinds. What if you took a walk during your break and invited the other coworkers that need the sunlight to do the same? You could even do walking meetings with like minded people. In SF bay area, it's actually common to do walking meetings to get your steps in and get some sunlight. Direct sunlight is much more effective than indirect (but also more deadly so wear the right UVA/UVB protection) and you need less of it to get the benefits.

1

I am extremely photosensitive. So much so that I wear tinted glasses INSIDE

You could always get a lamp and a "natural light" bulb (either incandescent, or a full-spectrum fluorescent)

Some things can only be accommodated one way.

If it becomes too hot for the men, they can't strip down to their skivvies, but women who are cold can wear more clothes.

The same holds true for people who are photosensitive. You cannot make them any less so, so it is incumbent on you to adjust, such as getting a lamp for your desk. This will neither disrupt the people who cannot take the light for various reasons, nor raise the temperature to the point where people are uncomfortable.

A natural light source on your desk is the most reasonable accommodation to your needs that will not disrupt the needs of others.

  • Unfortunately, natural light lamps don’t do anything for me. But I understand that I’m unable to do anything else. – Gwendolyn Dec 7 '18 at 18:01
  • @Gwendolyn I understand. I have Asperger's syndrome and frequently need to wear earplugs, glasses, and sit in certain areas to avoid overstimulation. Unfortunately, you cant accommodate 1 person at the detriment of many. If there are other solutions, you need to pursue them. You may want to ask your doctor about alternatives to natural light lamps. I know that they now make the blue spectrum lamps that can help some people. – Retired Codger Dec 7 '18 at 18:03
  • 3
    It seems like there should be a mutual accommodation, such as opening the blinds part way or opening them only from 4pm on, or having light sensitive people move to the darkest corner. I had to put up with a guy who sat at the window and I assume was light sensitive, he kept the shades down all the time. There were days when it was so dim I literally felt like I might be going blind. There has to be some cooperation from both sides. – DaveG Dec 7 '18 at 20:03
  • @DaveG no, that wouldn't work at all. – Retired Codger Dec 7 '18 at 23:36
1

You can always send out an email to people in your area asking about a compromise on the blinds (as suggested in the question, maybe for one hour or so at the end of each day). Your coworkers may not be OK with this. But they also might be fine!

Such a request could be open-ended, simply pointing out that some people like the blinds to be open and so having them closed 100% of the time seems unreasonable. It could also be specific, asking what people think about a particular accommodation. Asking is costless, unless there are some really bizarre dynamics in your office.

The biggest issues, to me, are that it's not clear how much open-blind time you're looking to get, which makes it hard to gauge compromises, nor is it clear what benefit you expect from the open blinds. These, combined, will make it hard for your coworkers to understand why they would choose to get less of their preferred situation.

It seems like your preference would be to have the blinds open all the time, which clearly wont' suit your coworkers' desires. But if one hour per day around sunset is "good enough", then what if you went to a non-work area, like a hallway, or simply went outside, for a few minutes several times each day? Is one hour per day really "good enough", or is it still unsuitable but the best you think you can get?

The latter issue is that while the costs will be (or at least seem) obvious to your coworkers (glare on monitors making work more irritating, higher temperatures making them less comfortable, etc.), the benefits probably do not. That will make the request for open blinds seem skewed right from the start, which is not an ideal position.

"I like the scenery" wouldn't impress me if it meant my workday would be worse on a daily basis in exchange. "The natural light helps with my depression", assuming you're comfortable disclosing that, might seem more reasonable, but again, how much light do you need, how much difference does it make to your work, and at what point have we reached a balance in less-than-ideal situations?

There are more baroque solutions that are possible, though they are going to be unwieldy at best. For example, you could compensate your coworkers in some way for the irritation of open blinds (though it's hard for me to think of a reasonable example of what you might offer as the compensation). Or you could construct an array of housed mirrors which funnel the sunlight and view to a spot you could look at at any time, without affecting anyone else. But I don't see any reason not to inquire about compromises first.

-3

So, my question is, how can I feel okay about asking to open the blinds? Or should I learn to live with it?

You don't ask, just open a blind, if it's not locked closed then there is nothing stopping you. If I had a great view outside I'd open one and drink it in until I was explicitly told by management that it's not allowed.

I actually think your reasons are a bit specious. It's more likely they close the blinds because they feel uncomfortable being seen from outside. The rest sound like rationalisations.

Try and get a windows seat, then you can control your blind and that's all that matters.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.