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The benefits of natural light in modern office design

Flexible working, pet-friendly office policies and things like on-site childcare, nap pods and games rooms are all modern-day work perks which have become the norm. What is a lesser know but equally appealing is having access to plenty of natural light within the working environment.

In fact, Interface’s famous Human Spaces study found that natural light was the number one natural element preferred by 44% of employees when considering workspace design. Aside from giving employees what they want though, what are the main benefits of increasing natural light in the workplace?

A more productive, creative workforce

A recent neuroscience study carried out by wellbeing practitioners, Cohere found that 40% of workplaces with access to daylight experienced up to 40% more productivity and sales. The same body of research also revealed that those working in naturally lit working environments were shown to be 15% more creative.

Professor Alan Hedge from the Department of Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell University calculated that workers sitting closer to the window provided a surge in productivity worth $100,000 annually for every 100 workers.

A wealth of physical health benefits

As well as improving employee performance, access to plenty of natural light also has a significant positive impact on health. In his exploration, Professor Alan Hedge also found that daylit offices resulted in an 84% drop in symptoms of eye strain, headaches and blurred vision.

Additionally, being closer to natural light improves the regulation of vital vitamins such as serotonin, melanin and vitamin D, as well as lowering sick days and absenteeism. According to Cohere, those businesses working in spaces with no windows experience 6.5% more instances of sick leave.

Tech Incubator Manchester coworkspace

Improved mood and mental wellness

Daylight has been proven to improve overall mood, energy levels, motivation, positivity and help reduce the effects of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. It also provides a better quality of sleep, which in turn fosters a more energised, engaged and efficient workforce.

Cohere found that those working near a window had around 46 minutes more sleep each night – a statistic backed up by HR advisory firm, Future Workplace as part of ‘The Employee Experience’ study which revealed that daylit working environments presented a 56% reduction in feelings of drowsiness.

Help counteract the effects of tech-dependency

Future Workplace’s study demonstrated that a significant 73% of employees want a visual break away from their devices, whether it’s going for a walk or going somewhere to focus on a non-digital view out of a window. Providing adequate access to natural light is the perfect way to facilitate this type of temporary tech detox.

Using less artificial light is cost-savvy and eco-conscious

Naturally (pardon the pun), taking advantage of daylight means that there is less need for artificial light. Reducing the amount of energy being used to illuminate a workspace will have a positive impact on utility cost-saving and also making your business more eco-friendly and sustainable.

Essential office refurbishment project checklist

How to introduce more natural light into the workplace

Now you’re aware of the benefits and why you should be letting as much natural light into your working environment as physically possible, we wanted to offer our advice on how to do so:

  • Encourage agile working and freedom of movement around the space to offer equal access to ‘the window seat’.
  • When planning the space, put the most high-traffic and highly populated work settings near natural light sources to maximise the benefits for as many employees as possible.
  • Incorporate floor to ceiling windows and skylights and part of your next office fit out or refurbishment
  • Avoid blocking natural light sources with storage and partitions.
  • Get outdoors more! Permit things like outdoor meetings and phone calls on foot to increase time staff are spending in natural light.
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