Many employers say that they are always on the lookout for ways to improve the mental health and overall well-being of their employees. It’s peculiar, however, that one of the most significant factors that influence employees’ happiness and satisfaction gets overlooked—office lighting. It doesn’t come as a surprise that bad lighting can lead to an array of mental health effects and physical too. Eye strain, fatigue, and headaches are just some of the most common complaints. But lack of exposure to natural sunlight can cause more debilitating conditions such as the seasonal affective disorder.
Since the typical day job lasts between 9 AM and 5 PM, most employees struggle to get natural light beyond their workplaces. They have little to no choice but to live with the artificial lighting that illuminates their office. While leaving the office “sufficiently bright” might appear satisfactory, it’s worth noting that too much or too little light can cause adverse effects on the mental health and productivity of employees. This much is proven by the “Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life,” a study published in the journal SLEEP.
Another research by the UK company Staples shows that 40% of office workers struggle with their everyday jobs due to poor lighting conditions. The same study shows that 32% of employees would be happier at work if they had better lighting.
Interestingly, it doesn’t take a lot of time to release endorphins after getting exposed to natural light. For most people, 13 to 15 minutes is enough to trigger this effect. Unfortunately, many workplaces don’t have sufficient windows and glasses that allow natural light to illuminate the entire office. And in some establishments that do have enough windows, the employers may neglect the importance of letting in sunlight, choosing to use artificial lighting throughout the day due to convenience.
This should no longer be an excuse. Employees across a wide range of industries express that just adding more windows to the office would make them happier. It’s high time for companies to look after the health and well-being of their employees by addressing their concerns. And making the necessary changes don’t have to be expensive. Switching to custom curtains that allow sunlight to pass through windows and then block it out when needed is one of the cheapest yet most effective ways to boost workplace productivity.
For companies with deeper pockets, personalized lighting options may be considered. Biodynamic lighting, for example, adjusts the lighting during the day according to the tone and illuminance of the daylight levels outside the office. Some lighting fixtures also adapt to the individual requirements of the user. Providing these lighting options to employees gives them a greater sense of control over their work environment, enabling them to make adjustments as they see fit, which in turn, leads to higher levels of workplace productivity, happiness, and satisfaction.
There’s a growing amount of research that supports the necessity of greater exposure to natural light for office employees. Making simple changes in the work environment can lead to long-lasting effects. The well-being of the workers can be vastly improved by making full use of windows that bring in natural light, providing lighting options that closely mimic natural daylight, and educating employees about suitable illumination levels that boost their visual acuity.