How Does Natural Light Affect Health in the Office?
Long before the Industrial Revolution, homes and churches were constructed with many windows.
Some were long rectangles within framing in between. Others were extra wide, showcasing the grandeur of the architecture. The natural light illuminated the wood panels and intricate craftsmanship of the period.
Then, by the time the Industrial Revolution came along, large windows had a different purpose. It was just before the dawn of the light bulb and companies needed to get as much daylight as possible for production. The factors in particular relied on large amounts of natural light.
But, as businesses changed so did the workplace.
How Does Fluorescent Light Affect Employees?
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the fluorescent light bulb was mass produced.
This changed the way buildings were constructed.
Ceilings were lowered and offices started to resemble the cramped settings that we use today. Much of the architecture revolved around incorporating as much office space as possible. And those changes also created a hierarchy for the windows. The windows, and natural light that they created, were often saves for the offices of executives.
Back in 1965, people didn’t think that natural light affected employees and their work performance. If any thought was put into this area, it was to remove the light altogether. Many people believed employees would be distracted by having windows in so close to their desks.
Little did they know how misinformed they were.
According to recent studies, those light bulbs have a negative effect in the office. Employees who are under fluorescent lights constantly are more prone to experiencing mental gaps, headaches, eye strain, as well as depression. These individuals are more likely to become moody and agitated during the workday also.
For two decades now, researchers have looked at the forgotten benefits from those wide windows.
What Are the Health Benefits of Natural Light?
Studies performed between 1999 and 2003 looked into offices that offered natural light. Workers who were exposed to that light were more productive and efficient in their work.
In 2017, another study showed that employees who sat just ten feet away from a window experienced serious health benefits. They had much less strain on their eyes, reduced blurred vision, and rarely suffered from headaches.
It’s no secret that sunshine helps our bodies absorb Vitamin D. We often rely on that vitamin to help lift our spirits.
But, we can also forget how much Vitamin D is needed for our bodies.
This one nutrient stimulates calcium absorption, enhances your immune system, fights cancer, increases white blood cells, and regulates insulin levels.
Sitting next to a window at work helps your body maintain its natural circadian rhythm. When this rhythm is in sync, your hormones, body temperature, and sleep cycles are regular. And as we’ve mentioned before, sleep is key to boost office productivity.
Of course, an employee’s mental health also improves thanks to natural light. Working next to a window gives you an excuse to take a break from work and look outside every once in a while. Other studies show that taking frequent breaks from work, even for five minutes every couple of hours, increases productivity and efficiency with those employees.
Not only do employees benefit from natural sunlight, but so do the companies they work for.
When your team members are more productive, their cognition is more precise. Critical-thinking skills could also see a spike during this time. As a result, the business will see higher levels of employee morale which means increased profits. And since your staff is feeling good about the work that they produce, they are more likely to feel valued.
There are other ways to increase health within the office. In the midst of flu season, the virus could be making its way across your company.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is a freelance writer with a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgian Court University. She currently lives in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina.