Evidence published by Future Workplace, after carrying out their Workplace Wellness Study, suggests that the number one luxury on employees’ wish lists is in fact something very simple – and far from expensive. Rather than elaborate perks and benefits, employees are searching for natural light. The research showed that a substantial proportion of employees wish they had more access to natural light. Intrigued as to why this is?
Take a closer look at the benefits of natural light in the workplace, and how it can contribute to a healthy corporate culture as told by Henry Martin, an experienced Residential and Commercial Developer and a regular contributor to MRS blog.
Natural light can improve mood
Those familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will be aware of the effects of shorter days and less daylight. People with this condition find that in the colder months when there are more hours of darkness, their mood drops and they can even experience feelings of depression. This same problem can occur in an environment where there is minimal natural light. The reason for this is to do with the effects that sunlight has on the hypothalamus – the area of the brain which influences the production of serotonin, melatonin, and our internal clock.
Without natural light in the workplace, the mood among staff can become low, and tensions become fraught. Even those who are not mentally affected by less natural light are likely to experience a lower mood, simply because others around them are feeling down.
Natural light can aid sleep
A research team at the Northwestern University of Chicago revealed that office workers who were exposed to natural light during the day through windows slept for an average of 46 minutes more every night than those who were not. Their accessing 173% more light during the working day is believed to be the reason for this.
The physical and mental health benefits of sleep are known to be plentiful, with improved concentration being one of the most commonly mentioned. In the workplace, employees who are well rested are likely to be more attentive, focused, and in a generally better mood. This, in turn, leads to a productive workforce that is happy and satisfied.
Health benefits of natural light
In addition to an indirect benefit to health through improved sleep, natural light has a few other advantages to health. These include the fact that it can support vision. In 2018, findings published in the Ergonomics International Journal revealed that workers who were exposed to natural light reported three distinct benefits compared to those who weren’t:
- 51% reduction in eye strain
- 63% reduction in headaches
- 56% reduction in drowsiness
Vitamin D is also obtained through natural light. This is needed because Vitamin D enables absorption of calcium and phosphates which are needed for strong bones, teeth and muscles.
The fact that something as simple as light can support health in so many ways means it’s possible for employers to take care of their staff almost inadvertently. Simply by providing generously sized windows, you can help guarantee a happy and healthy workforce.
Natural light to inspire creativity
Many people claim that natural light is imperative for their creativity. In fact, it’s known that Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw commissioned the construction of a window-filled writer’s hut, which contained a custom made mechanical turntable that enabled him to follow the light as he worked.
In a workplace environment, creativity is needed for lateral thinking and the generation of ideas. By factoring in natural light, business-owners could achieve true innovation and as a result, excited staff and business growth.
Overall, it’s difficult to argue with the advantages that could come with increased natural light in the workplace – particularly because the evidence shows that it’s what employees really want. To help create a healthy corporate culture in your environment, consider finding ways to incorporate more natural light to support your teams.
More on workplace culture and creating the ideal office space.
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