How Much of a Difference Does Natural Daylight Make in a Working Environment?

Hopefully not too many of us are familiar with the experience of trying to work in a windowless environment, but for some it’s an unavoidable part of their daily working life. Stuck in an interior room under fluorescent lighting, a full working day can seem like a daunting task for even the most stoic of office employees.

But apart from being an unpleasant experience, how much does this lack of daylight actually impact on employees? According to researchers from Chicago’s Northwestern University, the impact can be profound. In their most recent study, they establish a strong connection between workplace daylight exposure and the quality of employees’ work, as well as their sleep and overall quality of life. In fact, when compared to workers who received plenty of natural sunlight during working hours, those in windowless environments reported 46 minutes less sleep per night, higher instances of sleep disturbance, increased physical ailments and lower overall quality of life.

It would seem this phenomenon doesn’t only apply to adults working in offices, but also has a profound impact on children in education. According to a new infographic from Whitesales, exposure to natural daylight in the classroom can result in improved mood, lowered feelings of anxiety and lowered feelings of stress. And this impact continues into academic performance, with children who have more daylight in the classroom benefitting from fewer sick days, improved levels of concentration, higher academic achievement and improved overall behaviour.

The same infographic suggests that fresh air can have a similar impact, citing tests that show a 15% reduction in cognitive function when CO2 concentration is around 945 parts per million (ppm), and a 50% reduction when CO2 concentration reached 1,400ppm.

So when it comes to getting the best performance from those in an enclosed environment, whether they’re employees or school children, it seems that we cannot overlook the importance of natural daylight, and good old fresh air.

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