In all three of my previous office jobs, I had to be moved to a different spot in the office because I was bothered by the bright, fluorescent office lights.
(In all three instances, this put me in a location in the building far away from the rest of my department. Sometimes this was a good thing.)
Prior to being moved, there were times I wore a hat while sitting in my cubicle. Or sunglasses. And good lord, one time I even taped a piece of paper to the top of my head so it would stick out in front of me (like the bill of a hat) and block the light. (That only lasted about 5 minutes. Too embarrassing, even for me.)
I stood on my tiptoes on my desk and twisted out one of the bulbs, even after HR told me they couldn’t remove the bulbs due to some workplace law or something that said there had to be a certain amount of lighting.
I got so obsessed with the bright lights that I had a hard time focusing on anything else. I researched light monitors online and planned to buy one at Home Depot, so I could measure the light level in the office and tell HR, “SEE? I told you it’s TOO BRIGHT!”
Another time, I built a contraption using paper folders and a ruler. I taped them to the top edge of my cubicle so they would stick out and strategically block one of the lights. The ruler acted as the support for the folders, which blocked the light. It stayed on my cubicle for over a year. I was proud of it.
At my last job, the office manager (or HR or whatever) bought me a Cubeshield. It’s a nylon thing that sort of resembles half a tent that attaches to the top of your cubicle, blocking the light. When it was being installed, I could see people walking by and staring and I could hear people wondering out loud what it was. I was mortified by the attention and so embarrassed that I seemed like a whiny complainer who had to have this silly thing installed. People would walk by and make comments like, “Are you going camping? har, har.”
(I recommend this contraption from Ikea to block lights in the office.)
But a strange thing happened a few months later. Two more CubeShields popped up in my office. It was catching on–vindication! I no longer felt like the crazy whiner. 🙂
Read my blog post about all the battles I fought working in a cubicle–including noise, smells, social situations, and ergonomics.
Further reading: Check out this article from Pacific Standard about how “Dim Lighting Sparks Creativity.”
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