Have you ever worked in an environment that’s dark, damp and devoid of natural light? For more than 20 years, from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the large-scale wisdom was the artificial light was the ideal option for productivity.
We now know that the opposite is true. From detailed studies performed on office workers and professionals to anecdotal testimonials from major brands like Wal-Mart, it’s clear that sunlight and productivity are closely linked.
Far from the previous belief that technology made us more productive, almost all modern science is showing us that, in many cases, it’s better to work in a setting that’s natural than the space age office of decades ago.
In this blog post, we’ll look at how working in a natural environment with plants, fresh air and sunlight makes you more relaxed, comfortable and productive than one which depends on artificial light.
Understanding the importance of natural light at work
Scientists from the UK’s Oxford University have found that employees who work close to a source of sunlight during good weather tend to be happier, more alert, harder working and more productive than their peers.
The study is one of many that indicate natural light has a significant effect on the productive work output of employees. Its implications, however, go far beyond a mere boost in productivity.
People who spend most of their time working outside of natural light face a higher risk of developing dementia – a condition that results in cognitive decline and poor memory, in addition to declining sleep quality.
While the researchers recommend going for a walk in the morning as the best way to counter the negative effects of working in an artificially lit environment, a much better alternative is to convert your workspace to better use natural light.
Plants and greenery make us more productive workers
How well do you work when you’re tired? For most of us, tiredness is the ultimate productivity killer, reducing our concentration to the bare minimum and our work quality to something that embarrasses many of us when we later review it.
Scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences believe that working in an environment that’s devoid of plant life could be just as detrimental to our cognitive abilities and work quality as working while heavily fatigued.
They believe that a plant-productivity connection changes the way we think through a phenomenon called “attention restoration.” While the theory is in its infancy, there are measurable results when it comes to work quality and productive output.
Their conclusion, that plants make you more productive, stands alongside data that indicates working in offices or other environments with plant life makes you more relaxed, less stressed and more capable at focusing on the task at hand.
How to make your office greener and more productive
With both science and anecdote proving that green, naturally lit environments make us more productive, there’s never been a better time to make your workspace more natural and healthy.
Do you want to increase your productivity? Pull the curtains and fill your workspace with natural light instead of switching on the lights. For optimum lighting, consider installing a skylight or other daylighting system in your workplace.
Instead of decorating with new furniture or a photograph, add small plants to your office for a natural environment. Even one or two small potted plants are enough to make a significant difference to your concentration and cognitive performance.