For most wage slaves, an office cubicle with a window is a pipe dream. With work space growing smaller and smaller, and employees ever more grateful simply to have a job, natural light has become a very low priority for most employers. Too bad that those blinking fluorescents do precisely nothing for most folks’ mood, especially in winter.
The solution for workers who can’t finagle their way to a seat closer to the real outdoors? Bring the outdoors into the office. Here are a few of our favorite ways to do just that.
1. Install an Animated Sky Ceiling
Here’s proof that we’re living in the future: You can now install an LED sky simulation over your workspace, and pretend that your cubicle has its very own skylight. The coolest thing about these panels is that they provide the illusion of clouds moving across the sun. Also, they’re energy efficient and provide more light than that horrid flickering fluorescent you have right now. The only downside is that they’re expensive: 1000 euros per square meter. For folks in the U.S., that translates roughly into one bajillion dollars and a million cents per foot.
2. Add Artificial Sunlight
Significantly cheaper than an LED skylight, light therapy lamps generally cost between $65 and $150 and promise to make your dark little cubicle feel like it’s in the middle of the great outdoors. Fans of light therapy claim that it can help users’ bad moods, sleep problems, and irritability — all of which are arguably side effects of working in an office, no matter how close your seat is to a window. So it’s probably worth a try.
3. Grow a Desktop Garden
What says “outside” more than a garden? We looked at many desktop kits before selecting this one in particular. Why did this garden-in-a-bubble win? Because all of the plants inside it are carnivorous. That’s right: This is a meat-eating garden, full of plants that will be happy to eat your coworkers’ leftover ham sandwiches. Because if there’s one thing better than feeling like you’re outdoors, it’s terrifying your colleagues at the same time. $24.99 for 10 varieties of carnivorous flora, plus the bubble dealie, decals, rocks, and something called a “bog buddy.” Yeah, we don’t want to know, either.
4. Keep an Electronic Butterfly in a Jar
Now that we’ve given you nightmares … look! Butterflies! This electronic butterfly in a jar looks like the real thing, but without the cruelty of, you know, keeping actual butterflies in a jar on your desk. (Also, you have those meat-eating plants now, so maybe you want to watch it with the wildlife.) You have your choice of a few different types of butterflies, but our favorite thing about this is part of its product description: “Will not die (just might need new batteries from time to time).” $19.99.
5. Grow Your Own Coffee
For a mere $9.99, you can have your very own coffee farm, right in the privacy of your own cubicle. The great thing about this desktop garden is that you can actually drink the coffee you grow. The bad news is that you’ll have to supply your own mug.