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How Natural Light Affects Employee Productivity

The growing trend here lately has been: What new invention will make your employees more productive? Every week there is a new article describing a fantastical new trend, whether it be standing desks or company outings. However, there is one perk that you can give your employees that is low to no cost and proven to have an effect on your employee’s overall productivity. This perk is natural light.

An HR advisory firm Future Workplace called “The Employee Experience” reveals that the reality is that employees crave something far more fundamental and essential to human needs than many of the current passing fads. Access to natural light and views of the outdoors are the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking onsite cafeterias, and fitness centers. Not only do employees crave natural light and views of the outdoors, but the absence of these views has an impact on their overall work experience. Over a third of employees feel that they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace. 47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.

Researchers at the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, reported that the detrimental impact of working in a windowless environment is a universal phenomenon. Compared to workers in offices without windows, those with windows in the workplace received an exponentially higher percentage of natural light during the workday and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. Workers without windows reported lower scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality. They also had poorer outcomes in measures of overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction.  

Most of us probably don’t realize the impact that the type of light exposure we are getting affects our mood. However, have you ever found yourself smiling on sunny days or feeling more creative when the only light you’re exposing yourself to is natural light? It’s no coincidence that you feel more productive in natural light. The different kinds of light we’re exposed to can have a real impact on our emotional health and wellbeing. The desire for workplaces infused with daylight and views may also be due to our increased usage of mobile devices and the effects that the blue light exposure has on our productivity. The eMarketer Mobile Research study reports that American adults over the age of 18 spend about four hours on their mobile devices every day.  73% of employees surveyed in “The Employee Experience” agree that the longer they use their technology devices, the more they desire a visual break such as taking a walk or looking through unobstructed windows to an outside view.

How can you make sure that your employees are getting the natural light they need?

  • Make sure that where you have your employee’s workspaces situated near windows that can provide views outside and sources of natural light.
  • Implement mandatory “Stand up” times. Make sure that your employees are taking the time to stand up, walk around, and take a break from the artificial light of their computers.
  • Simply listen to your employees and make sure you know what types of workspaces they would like to work in.

By making sure that you implement more time with natural light in your employee’s everyday, you are ensuring that you have productive employees that are happier overall.