Natural light leads to better performance in the office
We know that an office with plenty of natural light is a strong selling point. It’s a key feature on any office description. No-one wants to work in a gloomy, dimly lit office. We can all appreciate the benefits of natural light and outdoor views in the workspace as it promotes a calm, welcoming environment that helps to make staff healthier and more productive.
In this article we’ll be exploring why natural light is important, the benefits that it can bring and ways in which you can introduce more natural light into the office.
Natural light improves wellbeing and productivity – the evidence
The National Sleep Foundation found in its 2017 study, that office workers exposed to high levels of natural light had better quality of sleep than those workers who were not exposed to any natural light. It’s natural light that helps regulate the body’s usual sleep-wake patterns.
In a more recent study of 313 office workers, Dr Alan Hedge of Cornell University cited other benefits of natural light in the office including:
- Less drowsiness
- Improved mood
- Reduced eye strain
- Fewer headaches
- Fewer mistakes
“…optimizing the amount of natural light in an office significantly improves health and wellness among workers, leading to gains in productivity… As companies increasingly look to empower their employees to work better and be healthier, it is clear that placing them in office spaces with optimal natural light should be one of their first considerations” said Dr Hedge.
Productivity increases with exposure to natural light
Whilst it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much productivity increases with natural light, there are plenty of studies to evidence the wide-ranging benefits.
1. Healthier workers
We have already discussed several health benefits observed by the National Sleep Foundation. Another research study by the University of Oregon showed a correlation between an office worker’s view from their desk and the amount of natural light they receive, and the number of sick days they took. Those with greater exposure to natural light took 6.5% less sick leave.
2. More engaged workers
According to the World Green Building Council, workers feel more engaged when working in natural light. This means that they are more likely to stay focused and collaborate with colleagues leading to greater productivity.
3. More sleep, better work
In a study by Northwestern Medicine and University of Illinois, specialists found that office workers exposed to natural light slept better and longer than their counterparts. Those receiving more natural white light gained 46 minutes extra sleep on average.
4. Happier workers
The connection between daylight and Vitamin D is well known and can affect our mood, making us happier. The vitamin D derived from natural light can help us fight depression, diabetes, chronic pain and consequently help to support our happiness.
Benefits for companies whose offices have more natural light
Aside from the benefits in employee happiness and productivity, offices with good natural light can reap some more tangible benefits.
- Natural light increases office space value – Offices with generous natural light are more appealing to tenants and it’s estimated that on average tenants will pay two to four dollars per square foot more for naturally lit space.
- Reduced utility costs – Lighting accounts for about a third of office electricity costs, and with some thoughtful design, utility bills can be reduced by making good use of natural light and the warmth it can produce.
How to maximise natural light in your office
Here’s some tried and tested ways that architects use to maximise light in office design. Perhaps you can use a few of these to brighten up your office too?
1. Introduce natural light into heavily used areas
If possible, try to give the greatest number of workstations access to the natural light. If the design prevents light accessing central areas, then consider adding skylights to reach those areas.
2. Use diffused light
Use frosted glass, softboxes and diffuser screens to distribute natural light more evenly. This will reduce glare, sharp shadows, and hot spots that affect comfort and productivity.
3. Use light matt wall finishes
Using light colours on walls will help to reflect light, but it’s wise to use a matt finish to absorb glare.
4. Landscaped exteriors
Some careful outside landscaping using trees and shrubs can provide natural shading and will also encourage workers to take a break outdoors.
5. Daylight lighting
Many architects use desktop task lights that emit light in the same spectrum as natural daylight. Adding dimmers can also help control the artificially lit environment.
How to find offices with great natural light?
“The Employee Experience” survey of 1614 employees conducted by US HR advisory firm Future Workplace revealed that access to natural light and views of the outside were the number one attribute of the workplace environment, ranking higher than cafes, fitness rooms and other perks.
If you are looking for a new office with good natural light high on your agenda, then contact us today for the latest locations, availability and prices.