The importance of natural light is often overlooked when considering an office refurbishment, however, daylight exposure should be a major consideration when planning and designing your office workspace. As well as being cost and energy efficient, increasing exposure to natural light will have an impact on mood and productivity; indeed a 2001 study by the Lighting Research Centre in Troy, N.Y. of the impact of daylight on worker productivity during winter months, found that workers in windowed offices spent significantly more time working on their computers than workers in interior, windowless offices. (California Energy Commission website, www.energy.ca.gov, 2002)
Improved daylight exposure has even been proven to reduce sickness levels. According to the Peter Kiewit Institute of Information Science, Technology and Engineering at the University of Nebraska, poor lighting in the workplace can lead to excessive sick days, worker discontent, high staff turnover rates and poor-quality work. Natural light, however, makes workers feel and work better, prevents eye strain, helps people retain what they have learned and boosts productivity. (Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2002)
There are various ways in which natural lighting can be maximised within your workspace, and one of those is maximising the windows that your office currently has.
- Ensure the windows are free from obstruction – removing furniture and clutter, files etc from the window sills ensuring the maximum light can enter the office.
- Look at creating a more open environment by removing any unnecessary partition walls or replacing them with glazed partitioning. This will help the light to penetrate to the centre of the office and create a more modern and aesthetic office design.
- Consider installing a natural light pipe, which can reflect sunlight through a pipe into an area where the natural light is limited (see main image photo)
- Integrate your office lighting system with natural light, so that the artificial light automatically adjusts, turning off when a sufficient level of daylight exists.
- Ensure all employees are able to see out of a window from their work station. If employees do not have a window in the immediate workspace, simply being able to see out of a window or view the world outside will have a positive impact.