I’ve had a home office for over two decades, and the layout is very important to me as I spend so much time working in there. But is it important to have a desk facing a window – or not?
Having your home office desk in front of a window may lead to distractions as you continually look outside, and may also mean light shines in your eyes at certain times of the day. The rules of Feng Shui also say desks in front of windows with your back to the door do not command positive energy.
Let’s explore this subject in greater depth, and consider where your desk and computer should go in relation to the window, what to do if you don’t have a window in your home office, and how Feng Shui can help inform the whole layout…
What Direction Should My Desk Face?
Neuroscience and positive energy experts agree that the best desk direction for peak energy is east. If you can’t do east, then do north. Northeast is good too.
Scientists say that we still have vestiges of navigational cells in our brains that make us respond to the direction we are facing. For more details, read the study written in 1996 by Jeffrey S. Taube and published in the Brain Research Bulletin.
Other expert advice is based less on science and more on energies. Based in India, Vastu Shastra is an architectural science that provides guidelines for workplaces that encourage positive energy.
Vastu Shastra (a Vedic science) recommends positioning your desk so that you, sitting down, will face either east (optimally), north or northeast. Because the rising sun is a source of positive energy, entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople, accountants and management alike will benefit from the proactive energy of early morning sun.
Here’s an interesting article on Vastu Shastra at work.
In the traditional office environment, desks were placed so that the person sitting behind them would face the doorway. That way, the desk occupant was always open to and facing anyone who happened to come through the door. The signal is – ready and willing to collaborate!
Feng shui principles also say having a desk facing a doorway is a commanding position – more on feng shui later.
In the home office world, you may not always be able to follow expert recommendations on desk directions. In the home office environment, you have fewer choices. You may not have a room all to yourself. If your home desk is situated in the family room, you may need to face away from kid activity just to concentrate.
Can I Put My Computer in Front of a Window?
Of course. Many people find the view of nature through a window to be inspirational. However, there are also some practical considerations.
This author’s desk faces east and is in front of a large window. The view is fabulous. But, for two to three hours every morning the sun shines directly into my eyes.
Then, there’s the heat to consider. Heat and electronics do not go well together. If you live in a warm, sunshiney area, then your electronics may get too hot sitting in front of a window, particularly if the window is a southern one.
For much of the day, the sunshine outside is brighter than a monitor. The result is that your eyes will be always straining to read what’s on the monitor.
Is it Bad To Have Your Desk In Front of a Window?
That depends on how your brain works.
Many brains find windows distracting. For these brains, productivity goes way down. These brains might be more productive situated to gaze on a piece of art or an inspirational poster.
If your desk is in front of a window, chances are your back is to the doorway. Some brains just need to know what’s going on in the house. If they can’t see what’s going on, folks with this type of brain get stressed out. Productivity goes down.
Feng shui says that desks in front of windows (with your back to the door) are not commanding – more on that later.
Other brains may need to disassociate themselves from whatever is going on in the house just to get some work done. Not only do they need to have their back to the door, but the door needs to be closed – with white noise going.
Often, people find a good solution by splitting the difference. Place your desk at a 45° angle to the window and the door. You can see outside by turning your head only slightly. You can see the door but aren’t distracted by what’s going on. Your monitors don’t suffer window glare or high heat.
Does a Home Office Even Need a Window?
We humans are tied to sunshine. Studies find humans are happier and more productive when we are exposed to sunshine. But we don’t always get to have windows in our home offices.
The best way to brighten a windowless home office is with – lights. Overhead light fixtures, desk lamps and floor lamps in dark corners will brighten your office.
If you replace all those old luminescent bulbs with LED ones, you won’t even increase your energy bill. Consider those customizable smart LED light bulbs to keep your brain happy.
Then, invest in some soothing but light colored paint. Choose from your favorite airy palette but keep it light. When you decorate, don’t put too many things on the walls. Avoid flashy rugs.
Consider tricking your brain (in a nice way) with an empty window frame. Or a landscape photo.
Here are more ideas for home offices without windows from Apartment Therapy.
What’s The Best Office Desk Layout For Ideal Feng Shui?
Feng shui is the practice of arranging furniture and decor to create a balance between the individual and their environment. Feng shui harnesses positive energies. Translated from Chinese, feng means wind and shui means water.
In office feng shui, the most important pieces of furniture are the desk and the chair. For an ideal feng shui layout, the desk must be in a position of power and control.
For a desk to be in a commanding, power position, it must have some view of the door. The most commanding position is as far as possible from the door but with a clear line of sight of it.
If you just don’t have a spot like that, then make sure that there is no foot traffic that needs to move behind your chair. This idea may go back to cavepeople days – protect your back. For an ideal feng shui office, face the traffic at all times.
Desk placement should be with some window view. This allows you to stay connected with nature. If you don’t have a window, use a landscape painting, photo or mural. The view of nature represents your bright future.
The layout on top of your desk is important. In feng shui, the right side and left side of your desk have significance. The left side (when sitting at your desk) is the dragon side and the right side is the tiger side.
An ideal feng shui desk has tall objects like monitors or a desktop computer on the dragon side. Flat, quiet objects like notebooks and files go on the tiger side.
Decor is important, too. Water is related to wealth. In an ideal feng shui office, you would have an aquarium filled with fish. If an aquarium isn’t an option, consider having a small desktop fountain. The moving water is lucky and the sound of the falling water will be soothing.
Plants are an important connection with nature. Feng shui plants have broad leaves and are soft and green. If you don’t have a green thumb, consider succulents or lucky bamboo plants. No cacti – too much negative energy!
Next, your desk will need a fire element to energize you. Desk lamps or candles are examples of fire elements. If you don’t need a desk lamp, consider having an object that is red or orange on your desk.
Then, the ideal feng shui office will have crystals or jade. Crystals are beautiful to look at but also bring positive energy. Sculptures of dragons or horses will bring you good luck. Don’t worry – if you don’t really want crystals or dragons on your desk, they will work just as well inside a drawer.
Lastly, feng shui offices are organized and tidy. Channel Marie Kondo in your office. Clear away junk under your desk. Keep the desktop clean. Take those empty cups of joe to the kitchen.
Here’s a good feng shui video for office layout.
In the final analysis, whether you have your home office desk in front of the window or not is entirely your choice – provided you don’t get easily distracted and can handle that sun in your eyes at certain times of the day.
And while some people are sceptical about the value of Feng Shui – I definitely think it’s a ‘thing’ and that the balance of rooms is very important to your creative energy – so it’s good to take your lead from its teaching when positioning your desk.
But of course it’s ultimately up to you what you feel most comfortable with – and no, I’m not turning into a home furnishing hippie! 🙂