How Sunlight in the Workplace Can Boost Workplace Productivity
You’ve likely noticed the effects that sunlight has on your mood even if you might not be familiar with the science behind it. Being cramped in an office, trapped under the harsh gaze of buzzing fluorescent lights, can be downright depressing. Stepping out into the sun, on the other hand, can reinvigorate you.
As noted in an article by the University of Southern California, research indicates that employees are more productive and sleep better at night when there is a lot of natural lighting in their workplace. Why do our bodies react this way to artificial and natural lighting?
The Psychological Benefits of Sunlight
The biggest cause of these mood swings is serotonin. While this hormone serves many functions, it is notably responsible for balancing our moods. If you don’t get enough serotonin, you will probably get depressed.
Sunlight and serotonin are closely linked; if you spend the day in artificial lighting or darkness, your serotonin levels will decrease. Worse, dim lighting can trigger the release of another hormone called melatonin, which prepares your body to go to sleep. Conversely, when your eyes are exposed to natural sunlight, your brain releases serotonin. This balances your mood, helping you to feel calm and focus on work-related matters. It also reduces eye fatigue and headaches caused by artificial lighting. A workplace need to a functional outdoor space and plenty of natural lighting.
But how much sun do we need? During the warmer seasons, we need approximately 10 to 20 minutes in the sun each day. In the winter, on the other hand, we need to spend closer to two hours in the sun each day to stay healthy.
You must take a psychological approach to office design. When designing an office, it is clear that adequate sunlight should be a key consideration. It could make the difference between a workforce of bright-eyed, focused workers and sleepy, grumpy whiners. So how can you incorporate more sunlight into your workspace?
If you are designing a new office or renovating, create an open environment. Make an effort to remove anything that could serve as a barrier to natural light. Tear down interior walls and replace them with glass walls. Ditch the cubicles and use simple benching desks. Replace thick fencing and stair rails with sleek fascia mounted cable and glass railing systems. Taking these steps will allow sunlight to permeate throughout the workplace, inevitably improving both positivity and productivity.
If you are simply unable to ensure that each worker has adequate sunlight throughout the day, there are other (though admittedly less effective) ways to let some sun in on their day. Have an outdoor break area available at all times. This is a great way to make use of balconies. Encourage employees to spend some time outside once in awhile. Consider using some creative nature wall stickers throughout the office to bring the outdoors inside.
Depending on your office layout, it may be difficult to get sunlight to certain areas in the workplace. Don’t fret. Some pieces of technology can actually help distribute sunlight around the office. For instance, GearNova discussed an innovative product called the “Lucy Sunlight Mirror Reflector” — a solar-powered gadget that can automatically find and track the sun. It is capable of keeping a dark area illuminated with natural light throughout the day.
Make the office comfortable — make it feel like home. Adequate sunlight is one of the most often neglected aspects of office design. However, there are clear reasons for embracing brighter open offices. The boost to productivity alone can justify the cost of renovations. Don’t subject your employees to a dark, depressing office environment. Let some sun in and see the change for yourself.