Posted In // Design Tips Office Ergonomics
“It sounds crazy,” UK-based custom-made shade sail company Sunsquare explains, “but when it comes to implementing changes for a positive office environment, many have argued for the health benefits from natural light, particularly sunshine.”
While the answer does sound suspiciously simple, it’s directly related to health information we have known for years. The UV rays from natural light allow our bodies to synthesize vitamin D, a nutrient recognized for decreasing the risks of allergies, chronic pain, and anxiety.
The perceived effect of darkness on quality of life (QOL)To back up its claim about integrating daylight into workspace design, Sunsquare cites a UK study from 2008. Highlights from the report, a survey of 1000 urban employees published by the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB), include:
• 22% of respondents indicated that they are in the sun less than 20 minutes daily.
• Two in three respondents said that they feel depressed or have been diagnosed with a mood disorder.
• Four in five said that they believe additional daylight in their office space would be invigorating.
The real value of a windowNeuroscientists at Northwestern University agree with those workers who think that extra sunlight would help. Their 2013 report, presented in the web edition of SLEEP, found a strong correlation between the amount of office environment sunlight and several wellness factors: sleep patterns, energy levels, and emotional health.
Rather than relying on information from the employees themselves, this study attempted to gauge the amount of light an employee received and compare it to the amount of sleep they were getting. The researchers found that when windows were present in an office space, employees were able to absorb 173% as much daylight as those in settings without windows.
The window group was better-rested, with 46 minutes of additional sleep within each 24-hour cycle on average – and with sleep interruptions specifically reduced. These workers were also less likely to experience health conditions and fatigue.
Well worth the investmentSunlight isn’t the only issue, though. Many companies have traditionally failed to connect dim lighting with low productivity, according to a 2007 analysis by Danielle Starkey. “Bad lighting can cause eye strain, fatigue and low morale for workers,” she wrote in the Sacramento Business Journal. “And when looking at computer screens and reading documents with dismal lighting, more mistakes are made.”
Conscientious, research-driven workspace designAs the above samples indicate, the mainstream research community concurs that daylight has manifold benefits for your staff.
Sunlight is just one of many considerations we explore at Beaux-Arts Group when meeting our clients’ office design and space planning needs. Talk to us about our customer-focused solutions that are based on relationships and derived from innovative research.