With bright computer screens and strong office lighting the norm, it’s easy to forget that we’ve evolved to operate from sunrise to sunset. Despite advanced technology, our human circadian rhythm – the 24-hour biological clock that operates in all of us – hasn’t really changed all that much since we were cavemen (and cavewomen.)
Just like we still need eight hours of sleep every night, eight glasses or water every day, and as much fresh air as possible, our bodies are far more efficient when they get as much natural light as possible.
By adapting your workspace to better use natural light instead of artificial lighting, you can improve both your own productivity and that of your employees.
Natural light makes people more efficient (and more effective)
Have you ever felt a little uneasy in the office? Generally speaking, the best offices are those that let us relax and focus. They tend to have open layouts, calming and cool environments, and, of course, plenty of natural light.
Your lack of motivation inside an artificially lit office isn’t just a hunch – it’s normal human behavior that’s proven by science. Mirjam Münch, who works for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, has found that natural lighting increases mood and performance in working adults.
Her study, which looked at the working behavior of 19 to 25 year old workers, put one test group under artificial light and another under daylight for six hours every day. The end result was a clear increase in cognitive function in participants under the natural light.
Installing daylighting isn’t just a victory for your office’s aesthetics – it’s a victory for your productivity, and one that’s backed up by proven science. Münch’s results also indicate an increased level of alertness amongst people that work in an office that’s naturally lit when compared to their artificially lit counterparts.
Natural light gives your office a better night’s sleep
The key to a good day’s work is a good night’s sleep, and natural lighting systems make it easier than ever to enjoy eight hours of deep sleep every night. For almost the entirety of our existence on earth, humans have adapted to a cycle of natural light – certain natural daytime hours, and certain natural nighttime hours.
While our bodies can always differentiate between natural light and artificial light when it comes to light quality, it’s very difficult for us to tell the two apart when it comes to light quantity. Simply put, more sunlight – especially late at night – plays tricks on your body, regardless of whether it’s artificial or natural light.
When your office operates on nature’s 24-hour clock – one of natural light during the morning, sunlight during the afternoon, and a gradual reduction in light as the evening begins – it allows you to adapt to a cycle of sleep and work that’s far closer to your body’s natural demands.
How much is office daylighting really costing you?
One of the most common objections to daylighting is that it’s too expensive. It’s an objection that’s easy to understand – after all, the initial costs of creating an office that’s lit using natural lighting can often put off cost-conscious business owners.
The reality, however, is that the increase in work quality, work quantity, and sleep quality make office daylighting a surprisingly inexpensive option. After all, you’re losing potential productivity with every hour spent in an artificially lit office.
When you consider the true costs of office daylighting, think of the benefits as well as the expenses. From lower energy bills to greater workplace productivity, the benefits of daylighting strongly outweigh the costs.