Science explains why the office window seat is so coveted

Getting the seat by the office window is a coveted prize, and now science backs up why we want it so much. According to a new daylight study conducted by Cornell University’s Dr. Alan Hedge, our proximity to natural light can boost our productivity.

Workers in window seats don’t get as drowsy or as much eye fatigue

Colleagues with window seats have a competitive advantage over their other colleagues. The study found that we thrive in sunlight and we shrivel up underneath fluorescent lights. Hedge found that people in optimized natural light with close access to windows were less likely to experience the side effects of digital eye strain that comes from looking at computers for too long.

Where you sit can determine how focused you’re going to be at work. Workers close to windows were 51% less likely to experience eyestrain and were 63% less likely to get tension headaches. Being close to natural light also boosted workers’ energy. Employees in optimized light reported a 56% decrease in drowsiness.

When you block an employee’s access to a nice view, you are hurting their performance. “Productivity gains (and losses) are connected to employees’ environmental conditions, so companies that create ideal office environments with abundant natural light and unobstructed outdoors views will reap the dividends,” the study concludes.

Sunlight is nature’s balm to computer vision. Natural light helps our eyes recover and relax after we put them through the strain of artificial light. Unfortunately, too many of us stay in our enclosed, artificially-lit office buildings all day. We spend 90% of our time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

And that not only affects our productivity, but also our brainpower. One study found that indoor lighting makes it harder for us to learn and remember tasks.

Unfortunately, some of us are stuck with assigned seats that take the question of a prime window seat out of our hands. If you’re among the employees working away from a window, take breaks and go get your dose of natural light outside. Your eyes will thank you.