We spend hours each day working at our desk setups, therefore desk placement especially relative to the windows can significantly affect our energy, focus, and overall productivity during the day.
And the common question here is if desks should be placed in front of windows.
Well, it’s a double-edged sword! So, in this article:
1. First, I discuss whether having your desk against the window is a good idea or not, and I talk about its pros and cons.
2. Then, I mention tips and tricks if you have a window behind the desk.
3. Finally, I summarized a quick general guide on the best places to put the desk in the room.
Should A Desk Be In Front Of Window?
No, a desk in front of a window creates problems such as distractions and direct sun glare. However, there are some benefits like natural light and fresh air too. So, if you want to be near the windows, place the desk beside/next to the windows instead of placing it in front of them.
Now that was the quick answer! However, it’s not a “one rule for all”.
You see, each person and workspace has its style and priorities, that’s why I’ve gathered all the important advantages and disadvantages below, so you can have your tradeoff and choose what works best.
Pros of Having a Desk in Front of the Window
Here are the main 3 main pros of desks under the windows:
1. Natural light
I’m a big fan of Dr.Huberman and I start with this quote from him:
I consider viewing morning sunlight in the top five of all actions that support mental health, physical health, and performance.
-Dr. Andrew Huberman
NOTE that too much direct sunlight is dangerous(I’ll discuss it later), I suggest installing thin shades to soften the sun-glares.
Having some indirect exposure during the day can be pretty beneficial:
1. It helps regulate our circadian clock which relates to better sleep at night.
2. It is the main source of vitamin D, which many people lack (42% of the US population is Vitamin D deficient)
3. boosts your energy and is refreshing.
4. in addition to all the above, it also helps you save on your electricity bill! (no lamps are needed during the day)
Ideally, you should have sunlight in the morning from sunrise to 10 AM and in the evening from 4 PM to Sunset. And avoid strong direct sun rays between 10 AM to 4 PM.
2. Connection to the Outdoors
Having a window behind your workspace makes your desk look deeper and bigger!
It also makes it much easier to take quick visual breaks and avoid burnout, Use the view as inspiration:
Do you have a nice view of nature? don’t forget to take a glance at it every now and then. It helps you refresh and reduces your stress.
Do you live in a crowded area? Just take a quick look at what’s going on outside, people and cars moving, or maybe -in my case- kids playing and shouting at each other 🙂
It doesn’t matter, in both cases, the point is to get out of our heads for a few moments and then continue our work.
3. Fresh Air Flow
If you don’t live in a busy area with noise and air pollution from cars (like city centers or beside highways), you can always open your windows and enjoy the fresh air flow while working on your projects.
Fresh air increases the oxygen in the room and it’s beneficial for you both physically and mentally.
Now, let’s see the other side of the argument:
Cons of Having a Desk in Front of the Window
As I said earlier, having the desk by the window is a double-edged sword! and here are the problems:
1. Unpleasant Temperature
it’s usually a seasonal problem, (for ex: winter in New York or summer in Dubai), sitting near the windows especially if open, can be awful. I’m talking about 104F(40C)summers in Dubai or 25F(-4C) winters in New York.
I’ve lived both in hot and cold cities, and I always place my desk beside the window (NOT against) and in my opinion, it’s mostly a problem in hot places.
In the summer, the windows not only get hot but also become too bright for the eyes. Also, too much heat and the burning direct sun-glare can damage the electronics on the desk.
So, I wouldn’t mind it in cold weather. Just keep the windows closed and enjoy the view!
But in hot places, it’ll lead to sweat marks on chairs 🙂
2. Direct Sun-Glare
Sitting for long hours alone has many harmful effect like feet swelling. So, don’t try to make things even worse!
as we discussed for the natural light benefits, sun exposure if utilized correctly, is essential for health and performance.
but when you’re sitting at your desk against the window the whole day, and you don’t use proper blinds, it’s going to put too much pressure on your eyes. additionally, the UV ray from the sun is also dangerous for the body (especially from 10 AM to 4 PM).
too much sunlight through the windows can also make the room very hot in the summer and damages your desk setup equipment especially if you have multiple screens on your desk.
Unfortunately, connecting with the outdoors (which was mentioned in the benefits) comes with a price, and it’s distractions.
If you live in the country for example and you have a view of nature, you’ll probably be fine.
But if you’re like me and your window view is cars moving, people walking their dogs, and kids playing and shouting at each other, you’ll probably want to keep the windows closed 🙂
But, I still enjoy it to be honest! (maybe I’m too lonely)
I may enjoy watching the kids play outside while writing, but let me tell you, DUST isn’t fun!
If your desk is under the window, it’s literally under the dust. and things get worse if you like to keep the windows open.
You can clean your workspace regularly to keep the desk dust free, but the dust that goes into the electronics isn’t easy to clean and also can damage the devices in the long term.
Tips & Ideas for a Desk in Front of Window Work
Now, that all pros and cons are mentioned, let’s assume that you’ve decided to place your desk against the window, or let’s say you have a built-in desk in front of the window. let’s explore the tips and ideas:
1. Proper Curtains
having nice curtains that match your setup, creates a much more aesthetically beautiful workspace. At the same time, it’s very practical for light control too.
If you work long hours at your desk, I highly recommend installing both light and thick curtains. This way you can control the amount of light that enters through the window.
Ideally, you want to have some light shades early in the morning to soften the sun glare, but in the afternoon, when sunlight becomes strong, I would use the thick curtains to block it, that would be too much for my eyes.
2. Put The Desk Next to The Window (NOT Against)
In my opinion, having windows on the sides of the desk(NOT front) makes the perfect setup. I’ve always used this configuration with proper blinds, and it’s perfect.
The main difference (compared to desks in front of windows) is the amount of light that enters your workspace. For me having sunlight behind my monitor is too much, and makes it hard for me to read texts. On the other hand, soft natural light from the left or the right side is very pleasant.
However, if you have a glossy monitor display, you will have issues with sun-glares! Your monitor will turn into a mirror and blind you with sunlight 🙂 especially if it doesn’t have high brightness.
Quick Tip: If you have a wobbly desk, you can stick the side to the wall to make it less wobbly!
Plants are very helpful in reducing stress and improving your mood. They create a positive vibe for your workspace and increase your productivity.
Additionally, office plants improve air quality: they increase the amount of oxygen in the room, leading to a more productive work environment.
Best Desk Placement for The Desk
now that window desks are discussed, let’s take a step back and actually ask: where exactly is the best place for a desk in the room?
I consider these main four factors as a foundation for a good workspace setup:
1. Setup Ergonomics
2. Having Natural Light Exposure
3. Maximizing Focus/Avoiding Distractions
based on these four, the ideal place would be next to the window and having your back against the wall, where you can face the door and not worry about your back! This creates a sense of security and helps with your mental clarity.
This way, your monitor screen would not be exposed to people who enter the room. So, you can have your privacy and enjoy the natural sunlight through the window too.
Additionally, better privacy and control over your workspace (room and the door) help you focus more easily.
And lastly, if you are worried about distractions through the window, I think it’s worth the trade-off for most people considering how essential the natural light is (unless it’s too noisy or hot).
One important note, make sure you use a high enough desk (not too tall or short) to maintain a proper posture during the day.
Feng Shui Principles for Desk Placement
Feng Shui is a Chinese method of spatial arrangement that focuses on harmony and balance.
Based on Feng Shui, you must sit in a “commanding position” where you have full control over your workspace and can watch the door(without being directly in line with it). This usually relates to the opposite corner relative to the door and with your back against the wall. windows are best in the sides too!
for more details about Feng Shui method, please watch the video below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Should a Desk Be Placed in Relation to a Window?
Desks should be placed beside/next to the windows, where you can enjoy the view and have natural sunlight exposure without being distracted. If you place your desk against the window, you’ll be more exposed to sun-glare and distractions from what’s happening outside.
Is It Good Feng Shui to Have Desk Facing Window?
No, having the desk facing the window is bad for Feng Shui. On one hand, you lose Chi energy through the window and become distracted. On the other hand, you lose the “commanding position” and feel anxious about what’s going on behind you.
Is It Okay to Put a Desk in Front of a Window?
Having the desk in front of the window comes with a bunch of pros and cons like natural sunlight, distractions, etc. So, the best practice is to have your desk beside/next to the window, where you can have the best of both worlds.
In the end, whether you should place your desk in front of the window or not, is a personal decision.
As a summary, here, here’s a list of the pros and cons of having a desk facing the window:
- Natural Light
- Connection to The Outdoors
- Fresh Air Flow
- Unpleasant Temperature
- Direct Sun-glare
I hope you found this article helpful, and be able to choose the perfect place for your desk.