Let’s chat a bit about the correlation between productivity and access to natural light. You know that feeling you get when it’s super dark and junky outside? Those of you from Michigan know this well. Picture this: you’re stuck inside “working” and all you feel like doing is laying in bed, watching Netflix, and crushing some junk food. Accordingly, you’ve lost all sense of motivation and your productivity levels are at an all time low. The desire to do any work for any amount of money seems daunting. Well, there’s a perfectly good reason for that.
How your work environment can affect you
“Being your best creatively means being your best physiologically and psychologically.” To give you some measure of the havoc that the absence of daylight can wreak on mind and body, researchers found that people who work in windowless environments on average get 46 minutes less sleep on work nights, experience lower-quality rest, and are less physically active during the workday than colleagues who are afforded adequate exposure. As a result, if that weren’t disturbing enough, medical scientists report higher levels of depression, anxiety, delirium, and even psychosis among patients lacking access to outside views in healthcare facilities.
How can I be expected to create some mind-blowing, innovative masterpiece if I’m stuck inside a cubical jungle with only a flickering fluorescent bulb overhead for inspiration? At my last job, I was one of the unlucky employees that was buried inside a maze of drywall and cubical fabric. With one large fluorescent light strip overhead, placed in a sea of traditional boring off-white drop tile… it used to beat down on me, sucking out my lifeforce.
I remember staring at that awful burgundy cloth wall in front of my workstation and wishing I was anywhere else. The rain, when we were lucky enough to have it, was actually a welcomed occurrence. Hearing the thunderstorm outside and the drops hitting the roof was a symphony of rhythms. It was inspiring. During sunny days, I remember taking frequent breaks venturing out of the maze and staring out at the parking lot just soaking up any strip of sunlight I could. Though I didn’t smoke, I would go on every “smoke break” I could with my fellow co-workers. Any opportunity to stand outside was awesome! Even at the risk of breathing in their fumes.
Natural light saved my creativity
Today, I have a corner office with 4 windows to my left and one large window to my right. I can hear the storms AND see them now! The traffic zooming by and the busy sidewalk have become my new burgundy cloth wall. The sounds, the smells, and the unique characters that populate my open office layout are endlessly inspiring. In the office, I am alive, I am fulfilled, I am at my best self. Now, the creative juices are flowing daily and the amount of work I complete has skyrocketed. Above all, my biggest challenge is forcing myself out of my workstation.
If you have the opportunity, experience the benefits of natural light by bringing it into your space — sit by a window, open the blinds, step outside as often as possible. Go to the window, any window, and sun yourself! Your physical work environment plays an important role in boosting overall employee satisfaction and creativity levels.
According to a recent Harvard Business Review, a key workplace failure is the appropriate amount of natural light; the most appreciated attribute by employees and prospective employees is the amount of natural light in the workplace. As a result, this attribute outranks workplace cafeterias or even onsite childcare.