Indoor climate and well-being

The Role of Natural Light in Office Design in 2022

1 January 1

Flexible working hours, pet-friendly office rules, on-site childcare, sleep pods, and gaming rooms are all examples of modern-day workplace benefits. Natural light is essential to our well-being and having access to enough of it in the workplace is a lesser-known but equally compelling benefit.

a women having a phone call by the glass window enjoying the benefits of natural light

We thrive on natural light, yet we've built a society where we spend most of our time indoors, with limited access to it. Our goal as office designers is to stop this flow and design and build spaces that welcome daylight into our interior design. But why is natural light so important in the workplace, and what are the actual benefits? 

Why Your Office Space Needs Natural Light? 

The Harvard Business Review recently revealed that access to natural light is the most important factor that employees seek in their working environment [1]. In fact, according to Interface's famous Human Spaces research, natural light is the most favoured natural feature by 44% of employees when it comes to workspace design [2]. This is backed up by a YouGov poll, which revealed that one-third of office workers prefer more natural light in the workplace [3]

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Natural light, on the other hand, has advantages that stretch beyond the preferences of office employees. In reality, natural lights in the workplace have scientifically-proven health benefits.  

Here are the most important:   

Natural Light Boosts Workers’ Well-being 

Natural light is important for our health and might help us feel happier and more fulfilled. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Well-being isn't just about how you feel; it's also about how well you operate, and research demonstrates that these two aspects overlap. Happier people are more active, more creative, better problem solvers, and better communicators. 

Better Sleep Pattern 

According to research done by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois, employees who are exposed to natural light sleep longer and better than those who are not. Those who work near windows are exposed to a 176% higher amount of natural light than their drab counterparts [4]. This equates to an additional 46 minutes of sleep [4]

Improved Physical Health 

The quality of a person's view from their desk and their exposure to natural light are linked to the amount of sick time they take, according to 2011 research from the University of Oregon. Those who had great views of the outside and got enough sunshine took 6.5% less sick time than those who didn't [5]

Furthermore, workers exposed to natural light had an 84% reduction in concerns such as headaches, eyestrain, and impaired vision [6]

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Increased Happiness at Work 

Workers who are exposed to natural light are not only more inclined to work a full schedule, but they are also happier while doing so.   

The link between natural light and Vitamin D has been extensively researched. Vitamin D can help you feel better in a variety of ways, including preventing depression, diabetes, and chronic pain. 

Natural Light Enhances Workers’ Productivity and Creativity  

Natural light has been shown to boost focus and short-term memory, which has obvious implications for work performance.  

Increased Sales 

Walmart was used in a study of natural light by Pacific Gas & Electric. They wanted to examine how sales were impacted by natural light (through skylights). PG&E evaluated at almost identical stores — the same geographic location, layout, and everything — with the exception that some had skylights and others did not. Those who are in skylighted stores were 40% greater in sales than those in businesses with artificial lighting, according to the research [7]

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Fostered Collaboration and Engagement 

According to the World Green Building Council, natural light has positive impacts on employees’ engagement [8]. In fact, if they are engaged, they are more likely to stay focused on their tasks.  

Employees are also more motivated to collaborate with other team members. Higher participation and cooperation lead to increased productivity and success [8]

Amplified the Value of the Space 

Potential renters are more interested in office space that has enough natural light. Indeed, office places with high daylight access had a 5–6% value higher than spaces with low daylight access [9].  

Additionally, natural light helps a property appear more spacious and appealing, leading a potential renter to pay more. Space with a lack of natural light not only leases for less but also stays on the market longer than its sunny competitors. 

Decreased Energy Costs 

In a commercial building, artificial lighting accounts for around a third of the electricity consumed. Depending on the conditions, that amount may be somewhat higher or lower. It's no surprise that natural light may cut down on the demand for — and cost of — artificial lighting.  

The correct design, layout, and window products, on the other hand, are critical for lowering utility expenditures. This is to avoid energy savings being countered by heat loss via windows or allowing too much sunlight in during the summer. 

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How to Improve the Lighting in My Office Space 

There are a lot of things you can do to maximise natural light in your office, check out this article to have a glimpse into how to do it. 

We hope that we have explained the many benefits that natural light can provide in the workplace. However, this is by no mean an exhaustive list. Do reach out if you have more to add.  

Your Office in a New Light

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Sources: 

(1) “The #1 Office Perk? Natural Light.” 2018. Harvard Business Review. September 3, 2018. https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-1-office-perk-natural-light

(2) “HUMAN SPACES: The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace.” n.d. https://interfaceinc.scene7.com/is/content/InterfaceInc/Interface/AsiaPac/WebsiteContentAssets/Documents/Press%20Releases/Human%20Spaces%20Report/wc_ap-humanspacesreport2015.pdf

(3) “MEETING EXPECTATIONS What Employees Really Expect from Their Workplace.” n.d. Accessed March 2, 2022. https://k2space.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/K2-Report-Meeting-Expectations-Report-2.pdf

(4) “Natural Light in the Workplace Increases Health.” 2014. News Center. August 12, 2014. https://news.feinberg.northwestern.edu/2014/08/zee-office-light/

(5) View, Inc. 2018. “Study: Natural Light Is the Best Medicine for the Office.” Prnewswire.com. January 31, 2018. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/study-natural-light-is-the-best-medicine-for-the-office-300590905.html

(6) “CUergo: Cornell University Lighting Research Study.” n.d. Ergo.human.cornell.edu. https://ergo.human.cornell.edu/lighting/lilstudy/lilstudy.htm

(7) “The Link between Light and Health | NBBJ.” 2013. Nbbj.com. 2013. https://www.nbbj.com/ideas/2013/3/19/let-there-be-light/

(8) “The Secret to Boosting Productivity and Performance.” n.d. World Green Building Council. https://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/secret-boosting-productivity-and-performance

(9) Turan, Irmak, Andrea Chegut, Daniel Fink, and Christoph Reinhart. 2020. “The Value of Daylight in Office Spaces.” Building and Environment 168 (January): 106503. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106503