- Numerous scientific studies show that increased exposure to natural light positively impacts humans beings
- In the workplace, access to natural daylight has been linked to improved worker performance and reduced stress levels
- Dr. Kerstin Sailer believes coworking spaces that are specifically designed to maximize occupancy rates are restricting natural light
Numerous scientific studies have shown that lack of natural daylight reduces productivity and worker satisfaction. Modern workplace design focuses heavily on wellness, as more and more companies realize that the indoor environment must cater first and foremost to its workers, as they are the end users.
The benefits and impact of natural daylight can be clearly observed in environments such as the workplace, schools, and even hospitals. Take for example schools in the US, where studies show that schools with the best daylighting conditions experience a 20-26% faster rate of improvement over a one year period compared to those with the lowest provision of windows in California.
In hospitals, studies have shown that nurses exposed to more than three hours of daylight every day reported significantly less work related stress and higher job satisfaction levels. The benefits can also be observed in patients; those exposed to more daylight reported a decreased need to take analgesic medication per hour.
BE Offices, in collaboration Dr. Kerstin Sailer, co-founder of Brainybirdz and workplace scientists, put together the available research on the impact of daylight in the workplace and how it affects performance, with the hopes of casting more light on the importance of well-designed spaces, and what can be done to more proactively address this issue.
“We all intuitively know that daylight is important, but how much of this is scientifically proven? Seeing the hard facts on the impact of daylight on perceptions of stress, productivity, mood and sleep patterns shows how crucial daylight is to the rhythms and physiological responses of the human body.
“Studies show that greater exposure to daylight improve productivity by as much as 20%. Additionally, the fact that workers in offices with windows sleep 46 minutes longer every night than their colleagues in windowless offices is compelling evidence and should be taken very seriously by workplace designers,” Dr. Sailer comments.
Unfortunately, Dr. Sailer believes that in the flexible workspace industry, some are compromising daylight and focusing more on maximizing occupancy levels.
“The concern is that with an increasing emphasis on an attractive coworking offer, operators are providing desk and office space in less desirable parts of buildings, where access to natural light is limited.”
David Saul, Managing Director and co-founder of BE Offices added that, “it is worrying that parts of the flexible space market could be contributing to underperformance in a wide variety of business sectors, due to the potential negative impact of environments that do not have adequate access to natural daylight.”
Part of the issue is due to the workplace design, but another big part of it is due to a particular building or property’s overall build-out. Back in the day, wellness–including access to daylight–was not a primary concern when designing indoor environments. This fact alone makes it challenging to come up with the right fit out of a space in order for it to provide maximal levels of wellbeing.
On the bright side, however, various countries have introduced legislations that seek to safeguard workers’ access to daylight. One of them is Germany, and Saul believes it is no coincidence that Germany is leading the way in Europe in terms of productivity and workplace efficiency.
Incorporating wellness into workplace design requires more than providing enough natural light. Studies have also shown that humans feel safer and perform better in spaces that allow for a certain degree of visibility and that have ‘openings’ that give people a sense that they can move about freely.