Glow Up Your Office: The Essential Benefits of Natural Light

Hun 21, 2024

While companies experiment with trendy perks like nap pods and treadmill desks, the real game-changer lies in something much simpler. According to a survey by Future Workplace, natural light tops the list as the most desired office perk.

Employees long for it, and it’s easy to see why. Natural light not only enhances mood and productivity but also supports overall well-being. So, let’s focus on this fundamental need and see how it can effortlessly transform your office ambiance, energize your team, and attract top talent.

The Link Between Natural Light and Workplace Wellness

A recent Future Workplace survey reveals that employees' top desire is access to natural light and outdoor views in their work environment. Surprisingly, this outranks amenities like onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and even premium perks like onsite childcare. Yet, only 48% of FORTUNE 100 companies offer such luxuries.

The Dark Side of the Office

The lack of natural light has noticeable downsides. Over a third of employees feel they don’t get enough natural light, and 47% admit they feel tired due to its absence. Additionally, 43% report feeling gloomy without natural light. These findings highlight the growing importance of employee wellbeing and work-life balance.

The Digital Break

The craving for sunlight and lovely views at work might come from using our mobile devices so much. According to eMarketer Mobile Research, American adults over 18 spend about four hours on their phones daily. In The Employee Experience survey, 73% of workers said that the more they use their gadgets, the more they want a break. They enjoy things like walking or looking out a clear window to see some nature. It's all about restating your eyes and mind from screen time.

Scientific Backing

Cornell's Dr. Alan Hedge discovered the link between sunlight and worker well-being. His latest research showed that more daylight in offices greatly benefits health and morale. Workers in well-lit spaces had 51% less eye strain, 63% fewer headaches, and felt 56% less sleepy. It’s clear that a bright workspace not only aids in reducing discomfort but also boosts overall energy levels, making for happier and healthier employees who perform better.

Workspace Innovations

Some companies are rethinking their office designs to emphasize natural light. Amazon’s Spheres in Seattle, boasting over 40,000 plants, is a testament to this trend. Rather than focusing on typical office perks, Amazon has prioritized natural elements to reduce stress and improve job satisfaction.

Airbnb’s customer call center in Portland also takes an innovative approach. Unlike conventional windowless call centers, Airbnb has created an open space with natural light, views, and modern furnishings. This approach aligns with some European Union countries, where workplace proximity to windows is a building code requirement, acknowledging the impact of natural light on employee experience.

Bright Benefits of Natural Light for Employees

1. Boosts Energy Levels

Workspaces needing more natural light often cause 47% of staff to feel fatigued, HBR reported. Conversely, offices with natural light help boost energy levels. More energized employees tend to be more productive and creative. So, having more natural light in the office can make a big difference. Light-filled spaces make people feel much better and work harder.

2. Increased Productivity

Sunshine dramatically affects how well employees work. Research from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found workers in daylight felt more energetic. This boost means they stay alert and can focus better. In another study, sales performance improved notably under natural light.

Checkout areas with skylights showed a 40% rise in sales, showing how sunlight can benefit business profits. Natural light not only lifts spirits but also makes people more efficient and productive at their jobs, creating a better working environment for everyone involved.

3. Improved Mood

Spending time outside in the sunlight can lift your mood and improve mental health. An extensive study in the UK discovered that for each extra hour people spent outside, the chance of long-term depression went down. The participants felt happier and needed fewer antidepressants. These results show how important natural light is for mental health, hinting that sunlight exposure can help prevent and manage depression. Incorporating more time outdoors into daily routines can significantly benefit emotional well-being. This emphasizes the need to make natural light a part of our daily lives to keep our spirits up.

4. Better Sleep Quality

Sunlight exposure during the day can significantly influence the quality of your sleep. Research indicates that the amount of sunlight you receive directly affects your sleep patterns. Exposure to direct sunlight, particularly in the early morning for at least thirty minutes, is most beneficial for optimal sleep. This exposure helps regulate your body's internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which controls the sleep-wake cycle.

5. Higher Vitamin D Level

A new study from Trinity College Dublin scientists sheds light on the complexities of achieving optimal vitamin D status across diverse populations. Despite substantial research on the determinants of vitamin D, levels of vitamin D deficiency remain high.

Vitamin D is vital for bone health, immune function, and mood regulation, impacting employee health and productivity. Deficiency may raise risks of chronic diseases like cardiovascular issues and diabetes. It also affects mental health, with low levels linked to depression. Adequate levels support well-being, enhancing focus and energy at work.

6. Enhanced Vision

Computer screens, smartphones, and fluorescent lights can cause eye strain, leading to permanent eye damage. Natural light has been shown to lower the risk of nearsightedness in children and young adults by helping the eye produce dopamine, which aids in healthy eye development.

7. Experienced Komorebi Effect

"Komorebi" is a lovely Japanese term that describes sunlight streaming through tree leaves, creating a beautiful play of light and shadows. Bringing this calming effect to the office can help people relax and work better. You can add touches of nature, like plants, lots of natural light, and even nature sounds. This idea helps make the workspace a calming place, reducing stress and boosting productivity.

Also read: Unexpected Work Anniversary Gifts to Wow Your Colleagues

Easy Ways to Increase Natural Light in the Office

There are many ways to invite more sunlight into your workspace, from strategic window placements to innovative lighting solutions. Here are some tips to help you make the most of natural light in your office:

1. Installing Bigger Windows: The simplest way to ensure more access to natural light is to install generously sized windows.

2. Hanging More Mirrors: Mirrors can reflect light into the room, effectively increasing the amount of natural light.

3. Putting in a Skylight: A skylight can provide an additional daylight source.

4. Not Covering Windows with Curtains or Blinds: Allow as much light in as possible by avoiding heavy window coverings.

5. Opting for a Light Color Palette: Light colors reflect light, while dark colors absorb it. Using light colors in your decor can help to brighten the space.

6. Using Full-Spectrum Natural Light Bulbs: These can mimic natural light and be a good option when natural light is unavailable.

7. Installing Glass Walls: If privacy isn’t a concern, glass walls can allow light to penetrate deeper into the space.

8. Rearrange Furniture for Optimal Light: Position your workspace to take advantage of the most natural light areas.

9. Utilize Reflective Surfaces to Amplify Natural Light: Surfaces such as mirrors, glass, metal, or glossy paint can bounce and diffuse the natural light in the office

As companies strive to enhance employee well-being and productivity, prioritizing natural light in office design is crucial. Placing employees in spaces with optimal natural light should be a top priority. Explore Trove for more HR and employee gifting tips to create a healthier and more productive work environment.