In the darker winter months, employees often tackle their commute before the sun even rises, and leave the office after it’s already dipped below the horizon. This lack of light can actually have a profound impact on an employee’s health, productivity, and emotional state. An effective way to “lighten” the mood in the workplace and make sure your team is at peak performance is to improve illumination throughout the office. Let’s take a look and the why and the how of making your employees’ work outlook a little brighter.
The Benefits of Brightening Things Up
If the day-to-day is going smoothly, it might seem like a lighting overhaul is an unnecessary expense. But studies have shown that providing a well-lit workplace can actually improve employees’ mental acuity, which impacts both the ability to learn new things, and to retain information.
A study from Northwestern University in Chicago found that regular indoor lighting is far too dim, which can introduce a host of concentration and productivity issues. The intensity of light in an area is measured in lux. A sunny day outdoors averages about 100,000 lux, and a cloudy day measures 10,000 lux. In comparison, offices that are typically considered well-lit only reach about 200 lux.
Introducing more light into a workspace, especially natural light, can go a long way towards improving employee energy levels, sleep patterns, memory, mood, metabolism, the ability to learn and retain information, and health in general. As an example, the Northwestern University study showed that employees who are exposed to natural light in the workplace slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who did not have natural light exposure.
This type of improvement can go a long way towards not only boosting productivity, metal acuity, and focus, but also reducing the number of sick days used. All of which helps operations at your organization continue to run smoothly and efficiently.
Seize the Daylight
Although there is a wide spectrum of office lighting options available, it’s been found that natural light is still best. Daylight contains the full spectrum of colour, and different wavelengths of light have been shown to affect the nervous system, circadian rhythms, pituitary gland, endocrine system, and the pineal gland. So, to maximize the benefits of a brighter working space, it’s a good idea to utilize this abundant natural resource.
Daylight also has the advantage of being popular with employees. Research has shown that when it comes to office spaces, natural light tops the list of employee wants. Workstations that include a view of nature or vegetation were also proven to be both more desirable, and even more effective when it came to boosting productivity.
Letting a Little Sunshine In
Effective utilization of natural light in an office can be achieved in a variety of ways. The easiest option is to reorganize the seating plan so that every worker is sitting within 20 feet of a window. Other, more elaborate methods include structural changes such as skylights, atriums, and daylight transporting or “daylighting” systems. If a renovation isn’t on your to-do list, another option is to install light boxes or sunlight-mimicking lamps.
It’s also important to remember that maximizing natural light can come with its own set of engineering challenges. For example, screen visibility and mitigating glare are essential considerations, especially as the sun progresses across the sky. Sunlight in the workplace is desirable, but can sometimes veer into “too much of a good thing” territory. You’ll want to incorporate solutions that strike the right balance between light exposure and workstation usability.
More than Morale
It’s clear that shining a light on the office lighting situation can result in a variety of benefits for employee and employer. For more tips on how to improve workplace culture and boost employee engagement, feel free to get in touch with the experts at TPD. You can reach us here, or by phone at 1.888.685.3530.