5 Tips to Increase Productivity Using Natural Light

Want to increase your employees’ productivity?  Want a happier work environment?  Turns out natural daylight can have a significant positive impact on your workplace culture. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine illustrates a positive link between natural light and employees’ productivity and well being.

DPR Construction's Phoenix offices implement multiple daylighting strategies effectively

Looking at 49 individuals, 27 without windows and 22 working near windows, those in the study with exposure to natural light during the workweek slept 46 more minutes per night on average and also experienced fewer sleep disturbances.

“Daylight can be a simple solution to improving health, productivity, and a sense of greater community in the workplace.”

— .
Why does this matter? Without sleep our performance degrades due to poor memory, a shorter attention span, and slower reflexes.   As I’m sure many of us have experienced – with little sleep we’re more likely to miss that decimal, scramble for someone’s name in our minds, feel frustrated with co-workers, or slip-up on the job. Providing natural daylight can be a simple solution to improving health, productivity, and a sense of greater community in the workplace. Given this research, what can you do for your office?  Here are 5 tips for improved natural light in your space:

1.   Place workspaces within 15 feet of a window An easy rule of thumb?  Multiply the height of your window by 1.5 – that’s about how deep natural light will extend into a space.  Assuming your windows extend up to 10 feet above the floor, 15 feet from a window is a pretty safe bet to benefit from natural daylight.   Place your workspaces within this 15-foot zone to get the best benefits of natural light.

2.  Remove Perimeter Walls Walls block natural light from expanding as deeply into your space as it can.  If you have private offices or conference rooms taking the prime windows they’re also stopping light from getting to the remainder of your employees’ workspaces.   Consider reconfiguring your office to keep the perimeter as open as possible with few walls or barriers higher than four feet.  If you have to have walls within this zone, consider locating interior glass up high so that light can still pass through while privacy is maintained below.

3.  Consider Skylights or Tubular Skylights If you have a roof directly above, skylights bring natural light to a deep interior where windows can’t reach.  Skylights can be added in any number of configurations to create volume and add beauty to a space.   When traditional skylights aren’t an option, tubular skylights can be an affordable alternative in existing buildings.  Their compact dimensions allow them to easily fit within your existing building structure while also bouncing light within their metallic cylinder.  With many options they can also fit numerous design aesthetics and ceiling types.

4.  Bring natural light from multiple directions to avoid glare Glare occurs when one side of a space is brightly lit while the opposite side or the corners are dark.  Glare is not only uncomfortable for your eyes, but can also undermine the energy efficiency benefits of natural light.  Because people seek to achieve balanced light, especially in office environments, people will turn on the lights to fill in the dark corners.  If your space doesn’t have windows on at least two sides, consider adding additional windows or a skylight to balance the light in the room and supply natural light from multiple directions.

5.  Add Light Shelves Light shelves are reflective shelves that extend from your window to capture light from the outside and send it to the inside.  They gather light from the highest part of your window to bounce it up to the ceiling and back into your space as indirect light.  With this tool, you can bounce light up to two times as deep as a window, depending on the shelves’ size, shape, and location.  Light shelves can be integrated into your building when updating with new windows as well as with products available that can be attached to your existing windows.

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