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The modern worker has a very simple wish list. They want to be paid more, they want a great work-life balance and flexible hours. Employees also value a good, spacious work environment. One of the most overlooked elements in creating a good working environment is natural light. Exposure to natural light can improve workplace performance. It’s simple: daylighting should be on every FM professional’s radar.
Natural light’s effect on workplace performance
Lighting can have a significant impact on your concentration and productivity. 80 to 85 per cent of our perception, learning, cognition and activities comes through vision. So, it’s not difficult to see why poor lighting can decrease our performance levels. The eyes are our most important sensory organ. Seeing more natural light helps our brains work better. Research has shown that working without natural light can damage your health and productivity. A study from the Northwestern Medicine Hospital and the University of Illinois reported that office workers with more natural daylight had more physical activity, better sleep quality and duration, as well as a better quality of life compared to workers with less light exposure in the office. The study shows the importance of using daylighting in the workplace. Facility Management professionals should harness the power of natural light by installing more windows and skylights. Effective use of daylighting can reduce stress and improve mood, due to natural light’s ability to produce Vitamin D, which control mood and feelings of contentment. Having a positive mood improves your performance and ability to problem solve. Daylighting also promotes healthy circadian rhythms. Everyone has a circadian rhythm: an internal body clock that responds to light and runs on a 24-hour cycle. More exposure to bright natural light during the day can help you sleep better at night, creating a healthy circadian cycle. Also, increasing the amount of natural light in the workplace can boost feelings of comfort. When we’re more relaxed, it’s easier for us to concentrate. All these factors can boost workplace efficiency.
Strategies for success in daylighting
It’s essential for facilities managers to have a plan of action when implementing daylighting in the office. Lighting should be positioned for maximum effectiveness. For example, use clerestory windows at the top of the walls to usher in more natural light. Tall windows could also be used to maximise light penetration. Integrating new daylighting features can be expensive, but natural light is a key way to save energy because it reduces the amount of artificial light. There is a wide range of ways to promote daylighting in the workplace, from optimised furniture layouts to addressing light shelf designs. Practical strategies can also be used for more sunlight, for instance, encourage out of office meetings. It’s an excellent way for staff to get a healthy dose of daylight.
The case is clear: getting daylight distribution can improve productivity, well-being and workplace efficiency. Having environments that bring out the best in employers is incredibly important. Nobody wants to work in an office with dim lighting and lack of windows. Daylighting is a great strategy to improve the work environment and the motivation of the people in it. In an area where we’re trying to reduce fossil fuel consumption, the use of more natural light must be a top priority.
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