Exposure to natural light has been directly linked to greater workplace performance, with the absence of windows positively correlated with workplace stress. A study into the psychological aspects of lighting by B.L. Collins found that 35% of employees instantly identified the absence of natural light as the major concern associated with their office environment, resulting in feelings of isolation, tension and claustrophobia.
In a world increasingly driven by deadlines and targets, greater emphasis than ever is being placed on reducing stress in the workplace. Exposure to natural light has been identified as one of the major sources of psychological comfort and so the windows used in commercial buildings can have a direct impact on productivity.
Natural light in the workplace has a number of very important benefits to offer.
Employee Health – One of the findings to emerge from recentstudies is that people who sit by windows in offices get an average of 46 minutes more sleep a night than their less fortunate colleagues who are seated in areas with little or no natural light. As any doctor will confirm, a good night’s sleep promotes both physical and mental health.
Productivity – Workers who can see what they are doing are obviously more productive. While artificial light can make up for low levels of natural illumination in darker areas of the office, it can also cause eye strain and fatigue, which are, as you can imagine, detrimental to employee productivity.
Energy Costs – The more natural light that can be incorporated into a new office interior design, the less money you will have to spend on artificial lighting costs. While this may not seem like a huge factor when compared to your other running costs, it can make a substantial difference over time.
Now you know just how important natural light is when it comes to designing new office interiors, the next question is sure to be: What can I do about it? Fortunately, quite a lot.
Glass Partitions – Given that completely open plan office layouts rarely work very well in practice, it is not normally possible to do away with partitions completely. However, by employing clear or frosted glass partitions in your office interior design (the latter for areas where privacy is a requirement), you can minimise any loss of natural light that the partitioning of your workspace engenders.
Skylights – The installation of strategically positioned skylights is not something that can be considered in offices occupying the middle floors of multi-storey buildings but for companies with single–storey premises, they offer an easy way to dramatically increase the amount of natural light in all areas. The use of clerestories in corridors that are adjacent to offices with no windows can also help to increase daylight penetration.
Bright, Reflective Surfaces – Mirrors and white-painted walls can help to reflect daylight into the darker recesses of corporate workspaces, creating a more pleasant environment for the occupants of these areas.