Five Ways That Natural Light Improves Productivity in the Workplace
Natural light in the workplace affects a number of health aspects like mood, sleep, vitamin D levels, and eye health--and it heightens productivity levels.
- By Henry Martin
- Nov 27, 2019
Natural light and views of the outdoors are among the most highly-sought workplace perks, according to a study carried out by HR advisory firm, Future Workplace. This same study also revealed that employees sitting closer to windows are more likely to show up for work, and have increased productivity throughout the day compared to those sitting under artificial light.
Find out just how natural light improves productivity in the workplace.
Natural light improves your mood. Those impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will be familiar with the shift in their frame of mind when the shorter days and darker evenings set in. The reason for this is likely related to the affect that light has on the hypothalamus in the brain, which influences the body’s internal clock and the production of melatonin and serotonin.
Those who are not exposed to a good amount of natural light are more likely to see a drop in their mood, and potentially—as a consequence—their productivity. The same Workplace Wellness study by Future Workplace also found that 38 percent of employees lose 60 minutes of time when their emotional wellness is suffering.
Many of those who work in the arts—whether this be writing, painting, singing or other—would agree that natural light is imperative for stimulating creativity. In fact, Irish author George Bernard Shaw was known for commissioning the construction of a well-lit ‘writer’s hut’, which boasted a mechanical turn table inside. The purpose of the table was to move it according to where the light moved, so he would always be exposed to natural light while he wrote.
To take a leaf from Shaw’s book, so to speak, consider the fact that the creativity and productivity of your workforce could vastly be improved with the installation of large windows which would expose employees to as much natural light as possible.
Another benefit of plenty of natural light is the impact this has on a person’s sleep. A research team at Northwestern University of Chicago concluded that office workers who spent their time below artificial light, with no exposure to natural light, had 46 minutes less sleep than those who worked in an office with windows.
It’s also well-known that more sleep equals higher productivity, because sleep is so important in its restoration of the body and mind. Those who suffer from insomnia often have trouble concentrating, and therefore cannot be as productive as a well-rested person.
Vitamin D is essential for good health in humans. Natural light is the chief provider of Vitamin D, and those who do not have access to enough natural sunlight can often find that they develop a deficiency. A Vitamin D deficiency can cause problems with bones, teeth, and muscles—all of which can go on to affect other areas of health.
In the workplace, employees who suffer from Vitamin D deficiency may encounter problems with health, which can then go on to impact their productivity. Good overall health and nutrition is needed to boost a person’s ability to concentrate and apply all their efforts to the task at hand.
Research undertaken by Professor Alan Hedge at Cornell University in 2017 revealed that office workers reported a 51 percent drop in eyestrain, and a 63 percent drop in headaches, as a result of more exposure to natural light. Eyestrain and headaches can be attributed to a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which is said to effect 70 million employees across the globe. CVS could potentially be significantly abated with the introduction of more natural light in the workplace.
In regards to employee productivity, fewer instances of eyestrain and eye-related headaches are likely to decrease the number of breaks an employee needs to take away from the screen. Plus, improved eye health will enable them to better concentrate on their work and maintain a good production rate.
Considering the significant impacts that such a simple thing as natural light can have on a workforce, it is clear that employers should try to achieve this in their workplace if possible. In addition to the productivity and health benefits, remember that natural light is by far the cheaper option for lighting your office in comparison to artificial light.