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Access to the elements makes workers more productive

Written by Ryan McChrystal on Wednesday, 01 April 2015. Posted in Engagement, People

Research shows that natural light has a positive impact on the performance and wellbeing of employees

Access to the elements makes workers more productive

With British Summer Time upon us the last thing people want is to be stuck in the office while temperatures are creeping up outside. However, let’s have some sympathy for the 47% of office workers around the world who don’t have any access to natural light, and whose productivity and wellbeing are suffering as a result.

It’s indeed remarkable to think that almost half of the world’s office workers – or, more accurately, half of the 7,600 surveyed by workspace design specialists Human Spaces – are spending the majority of their working day in a room without windows. And it would seem that this shortage of vitamin D is having a telling impact on their actual ability to work. The Human Spaces study found that employees exposed to natural light were 6% more productive and 15% more creative than those whose only source of light requires a power supply. Natural light was also linked to higher levels of well-being and lower levels of stress.

Of course, most start-ups are limited to what they can afford when it comes to office space. But cutting back on spending elsewhere in order to secure some light and airy premises could be a price worth paying – especially in light of an additional finding that the design of an office will affect a third of people’s decision on whether or not to work for a company. 

The study also revealed that apart from natural light, the most desirable elements in office space are live indoor plants, quiet working space, a view of the sea and bright colours.

“As well as enabling organisations to make links between their physical spaces and the performance of their people, this study throws light on one of the defining challenges of modern life – our ability to cope with urbanisation and loss of connection with green spaces,” said Professor Sir Cary Cooper, the author of the study.

It is evident that we are becoming more aware of our surroundings and how they affect us. As such, it seems the time has come for businesses to rethink the role of the workspace. 

About the Author

Ryan McChrystal

Ryan McChrystal

In a previous life McChrystal wrote about asset management in the Middle East. A history and politics graduate from the north of Ireland, he now focuses his efforts a little closer to home. 

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