Benefits of natural light in the workplace

A survey by an HR advisory firm published in the Harvard Business Review shows access to natural light is the number one attriute workers want in their office environment. 

However, the benefits of natural lighting go beyond the preferences of office workers. In fact, natural lighting in an office environment has scientifically-proven benefits.
Here are seven of the big ones:

Good sleepers are better workers.

study conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois concluded that workers exposed to natural light sleep longer and better (at home, and not at their desks) than those who aren’t exposed to natural light. Those working next to windows receive 176 percent more white light exposure than do their ashen counterparts. That translates to 46 minutes of extra sleep. Who couldn’t use extra sleep?

Workers are healthier.

An obvious extension of better sleep patterns is better overall health. According to a 2011 study at the University of Oregon, the quality of the view from a person’s desk and their exposure to natural light are interconnected with the amount of sick time they take. In the study, those who had nice views of the outside and received a decent amount of sunlight took 6.5 percent less sick leave than others.

recent study at Cornell showed workers exposed to natural light experienced an 84 percent drop in issues such as headaches, eyestrain, and blurres vision. Because those symptoms can lead to increased fatigue, workers exposed to less natural light were more susceptible to other health issues.

Healthier workers are happier.

Not only are workers with exposure to natural light more likely to work a full schedule, they are happier as they go about it. The connection between natural light and Vitamin D is well-studied. Vitamin D can promote better health in many ways, such as fighting depression, diabetes, and chronic pain. Even when a worker soldiers through pain and discomfort—showing up for work when they don't feel like it—such health issues can affect their demeanor.

Natural light boosts productivity and revenue.

Pacific Gas & Electric performed a study of natural light using Walmart as a guinea pig. The utility wanted to see how natural lighting (via skylights) affected sales. PG&E studied stores that were identical—same geographic area, layout, and everything—with the only significant difference being some stores had skylights and some did not. The study concluded that sales in the skylighted stores were 40 percent higher than sales in stores with only fluorescent lighting.

Utility costs may drop.

Artificial lighting usually sucks up about a third of electric use in a commercial building. That number can be a little higher or lower depending on various circumstances. It’s no great revelation that natural light can reduce the need-andexpense-of artificial lighting. However, the right kind of design, layout, and window products are essential to reducing utility costs. That’s to prevent savings in lighting being offset by heat loss through windows or allowing too much sun in during hotter months.


Ms Ngoc

Ms Ngoc

Senior Consultant

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