What is a major workplace impediment – both at home and at the office– costing you money, productivity, health, mental performance and quality of sleep?

It is the daylighting in your office. The benefits of daylight to office workers are so great, in fact, that many countries in Europe require workers to be within 27 feet of a window.

Daylight reduces the occurrence of headaches and eyestrain. The proper integration and management of daylighting in an office building provides the best spectrum of light for the eye. When the eye is not allowed to refocus to different distances over long periods of time, the dilating muscles are conditioned to a limited range of perspective, promoting near or far sightedness (Edwards and Torcellini). Professor Alan Hedge of Cornell University also found that daylit offices resulted in an 84% drop in symptoms of eye strain, headaches and blurred vision (Professor Alan Hedge).

Daylight increases worker productivity. In 1983, Lockheed Martin designers successfully increased interaction among the engineers by using an open office layout with integrated daylighting in their offices in Sunnyvale, California (Romm and Browning 1994). This increase helped boost contract productivity by 15%.

At the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, CO, Lockheed officials believe that the higher productivity levels pertaining to daylighting helped them win a $1.5 billion defense contract (Pierson 1995).

VeriFone, Inc., located near Los Angeles, California, constructed a new daylit worldwide distribution center and reported increased productivity a year and a half after they started using their new building. Productivity at VeriFone increased by more than 5% and total product output increased 25%–28%, making the new building more cost effective than first predicted (Pape, 1998, as cited in Edwards and Torcellini, page 10).

The value of the increase in productivity greatly outweighs the cost. For example, Lockheed Martin reported financial savings due to increased productivity by moving some of its offices to a daylit building. Lockheed calculated that “every minute less of wasted time per hour represents a 1.67% gain in productivity” (Thayer, 1995, as cited in Edwards and Torcellini, page 12).

Daylighting reduces Absenteeism in the Office and Employee Turnover (Franta, G.; Anstead, K., 1994).

Daylighting results in better sleep and quality of life. Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life,” Northwest University. Exposure to Natural Light Improves Workplace Performance. Cohere found that those working near a window had around 46 minutes more sleep each night – a statistic backed up by HR advisory firm, Future Workplace, as part of ‘The Employee Experience’ study which revealed that daylit working environments presented a 56% reduction in feelings of drowsiness.

Daylighting lowers energy costs. Save the Bulbs reports that with more light being provided by the great outdoors, you can use less light in your office and save on your energy costs. That’s what happened with a Lockheed Martin office in Sunnyvale, CA – the company saved an estimated $300,000 – $400,000 when it revamped its office to let in more natural light. While this is an extreme example, you may still be able to save some money by introducing more natural light, even if your savings don’t amount to a six-figure number.

Daylighting increases creativity. A recent neuroscience study, Rewilding Design | Light, carried out by wellbeing practitioners found that 40% of workplaces with access to daylight experienced up to 40% more productivity and sales. The same body of research also revealed that those working in naturally lit working environments were shown to be 15% more creative.

Daylight improves concentration and short term memory. Better concentration and improved short-term memory were both observed in office workers who had been exposed to natural light, according to a 2003 California Energy Commission study.

Daylight may be the number one office perk desired by employees?

When it comes to making a workplace function at peak productivity, it isn’t about the meals and snacks, coffee bars, ping pong tables, or treadmill desks. The amenity that employees are clamoring for most is something simpler and more readily abundant: natural light.

In study after study, office workers say natural light in the workplace is a top perk that helps with overall happiness and productivity levels. In fact, a survey conducted of over 1,000+ U.S. respondents found that 83% of employees say natural light is important to have at their workspace. Despite this, only 50% have access to it. Let there be light: Why natural light is the #1 office perk.

What is the problem with fluorescent and LED Lighting?

All fluorescent lights – and most LED lights – flicker, which can cause headaches and eyestrain and contribute to decreased productivity, leaving workers feeling exhausted at the end of the workday. But conscientious workplace designers can limit the amount of flickering with LED lights by being thoughtful about what lights and power sources they use. Let there be light: Why natural light is the #1 office perk.

Additional Citations:

L. Edwards and P. Torcellini, July 2002, A Literature Review of the Effect of Natural Light on Building Occupants, page 9. NREL. https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy02osti/30769.pdf

Franta, G.; Anstead, K. (1994). “Daylighting Offers Great Opportunities.” Window & Door

Specifier-Design Lab, Spring; pp. 40-43. http://www.sciepub.com/reference/240266

Ott Biolight Systems, Inc. (October 1997a). “Ergo Biolight Report.” California: Ott Biolight Systems, Inc. (1997b).

Professor Alan Hedge from the Department of Design & Environmental Analysis. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/sitting-window-can-boost-your-productivity-ncna873991. Daylight & The Workplace Study, How does natural light in the workplace improve employee physical health, Cornell University. https://view.com/resources

Romm, J.J; Browning, W.D. (1994). “Greening the Building and the Bottom Line: Increasing

Productivity Through Energy-Efficient Design,” https://rmi.org/insight/greening-the-building-and-the-bottom-line/

Pierson, J. (November 20, 1995). “If Sun Shines In, Workers Work Better, Buyers Buy More.” AP News. https://apnews.com/article/2da84b8feee97fab28c1cee2b9b6aadc

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