Many people think of productivity as something that stems from the right tools and tactics. They assume that no matter where you work, productivity is as simple as an effective to-do list and enough personal motivation.
The reality, however, is that being productive has a lot more to do with environment than many people think. Even with the best techniques and tools, you’ll rarely be as productive as you could be if your environment doesn’t encourage productivity.
In this blog post, we’ll look at how you can use natural light – a factor that research has shown to be incredibly important in inspiring productivity – to create a better, faster, more efficient and massively more productive workplace in your office.
Understanding natural light’s role in productivity
A recurring topic on this blog is the importance of natural light in productivity. We constantly come back to it for two reasons: it’s massively important for businesses and individuals, and it’s far too often ignored of written off as “unimportant.”
Have you ever spent hours in a windowless room? You might have noticed that you felt less comfortable, less productive and less focused than you normally would. We place a premium on rooms with natural light for a good reason: it helps us think.
Many researchers from the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Chicago’s Northwest University confirm what many of us already assumed: working without natural light has detrimental effects on productivity and the quality of your work.
Science shows that natural light makes us more productive. Yet despite the quick and simple process of using natural light to our advantage at work, many of us – a great number of businesses as well as individuals – choose to ignore it.
Using natural light to your workplace’s advantage
Creating a workplace that’s productive and action-focused using natural light isn’t as difficult as you may think. In many cases, it requires little more than some small changes to your habits and routine and the installation of basic daylighting.
Start by solving the problems that are directly within your control. Open your blinds or curtains and let natural light flow into your workplace. If necessary, turn displays and computer hardware around to keep distracting glare to a minimum.
Remove dividers, cubicles and other barriers that prevent natural light from flowing throughout your building. Natural light can travel a significant distance from outside your workplace to inside it, provided there are few barriers in its way.
Finally, consider installing a skylight if your office is spacious and lit unevenly. Just one skylight is often all it takes to transform the interior of your office from dark or drab into evenly lit and super productive.
The importance of light exposure outside the office
Have you ever felt tired after waking up late and spending just a few hours of your day in the sunlight? Sunlight doesn’t just make us more productive; it also stops us from feeling tired and sleepy prematurely.
This is because of more than just sunlight’s role in providing us with vitamins and minerals for health and longevity. In addition to providing vitamin D, sunlight also plays a major role in regulating our body’s internal clock and circadian rhythm.
As well as being exposed to indirect sunlight inside the office, it’s important to get the right amount of direct sunlight outside of the office. A 10-15 minute walk in the morning – preferably in at least partial sun – will give your entire team more energy.
Likewise, other natural aspects that have long been ignored in office planning – from plants and greenery to the right level of humidity – all play an important role in your energy levels and productivity.
Before to-do lists, make your office more natural
After several disastrous decades of unhealthy building design in the second half of the 20th century, architects and researchers have realized that sunlight plays one of the most crucial roles in making us healthy, focused and productive.
Before you worry about finding a more effective day planning or to-do list app, think about the effect that your workplace is having on your focus. Could introducing light into your office give you the energy and focus you need to more productive?