Negotiating Cubicle Wall Placement & Height

There’s an interesting discussion documented on Ask MetaFilter about how an employee can get sunlight into a workspace over a 6’ high cubicle wall. The “hive mind” has come up with lots of different solutions for this worker to pitch to the powers that be at his/her office. Obviously, orienting the cubicle so the open side is toward the window is an option – but it might mean the sunlight will hit the worker’s monitor and make it difficult to see.

Using panel systems that have tiles stacked up that can be easily adjusted is another suggested answer. Here’s an example of a product from Steelcase that meets those criteria. Other readers commented that simply buying cubicles with shorter walls is a solution. Of course, the likelihood is that the employer has already requisitioned or even purchased the cubicles at this point and won’t be willing to make that kind of change.

A Real Solution?

One of the suggestions with the most potential is from a poster called DudeMan (seriously). The Dude links to the Live Building website where you can see examples of light shelves. These shelves attach to windows and reflect sunlight upward onto the ceiling where it is then refracted downward into the workspace.

The shelving is lightweight aluminum that can be installed well above head height (you wouldn’t want anyone hitting their noggin on the shelves). Blinds can be installed below the shelf line for privacy and to keep glare out of workers eyes and off of computer screens. Of course, the blinds could also be adjusted as needed during the day to give employees a nice view of the outside.

Using shelving to increase the amount of natural light that penetrates into the workspace can reduce the need for artificial lighting (and lower energy costs) in some situations. That might be something a cubicle dweller could convince an employer to invest in!

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