The Importance of Natural Light in an Office Environment

What Employees Want and Need From Their Workplace

At this day and age when many offices are located in high-rise buildings and urban areas, having access to nature or anything natural in general can be a challenge. Many would hope for garden or ocean views right outside their office window, but instead, they’re faced with large slabs of concrete from neighbouring buildings. Even worse, some employees don’t even have windows close to their office desks at all.

Truth be told, one has to remain very competitive in order to find a good job. If one wants to work in a nice office, he must have an edge over everyone else who is also doing his or her best to get that much-coveted desk. While there are plenty of jobs available in most areas across the world, not a lot of people manage to land one. In fact, some are just grateful when they’re hired and so they dare not complain or ask more than what the company offers.

However, it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that their employees are happy and satisfied. By doing so, these employees will gladly stay loyal to the company, work better, and become more productive. In fact, many companies are starting to pay attention to what their employees want. They send out surveys, make time for team meetings, and even one-on-one sessions.

A study by Oxford Economics, What Matters Most at Work, concluded that good compensation is most important to employees. After surveying 5,500 employees including executives in 27 countries, they found that employees also appreciate bonuses and rewards, flexible work locations, training programs, vacation time, and retirement plans among many others. According to the study, one of the top factors that can affect an employee’s satisfaction is the office environment or workplace amenities. (

So what does an office have to have for it to be a good one? Aside from a nice desk, a working computer, a pantry, coffee break area, and other features, what else could employees be looking for? One has to keep in mind that these employees are different people who are gathered in one place together. They are unique individuals who have varied preferences. If one surveys all employees and gives in to all of their needs as an individual, then the company’s resources may not be enough. The best solution is to look at them as humans. What do humans need, first and foremost?

The primary needs of humans including food, shelter, and clothing are probably the very reasons why these employees are working in the first place. An employer must now have to give them what makes them comfortable and at ease while at work. For instance, proper ventilation, regulated temperature, clean surroundings, and more are necessary. Among the best things one can also offer to their employees is natural lighting.

The Advantages of Natural Light in the Office

Many offices rely on lights powered by electricity. They choose to keep the blinds or the curtains closed at all times. If the office features floor to ceiling glass windows, these are usually heavily tinted to keep too much sunlight away from the office. Another study even confirmed that natural light is the top perk any employee can get in an office. (

While there might be a few disadvantages when using natural light in an office environment, these advantages surely outweigh all of them.

1. Natural light offers vitamin D and other health benefits. 

One can take all the vitamins and supplements he wants, but nothing beats the natural thing. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D. While one can get most of it outdoors, he can still get his daily dose of the D vitamin when he has access to natural light indoors. Furthermore, more health benefits are offered by natural light. In fact, experts say that being exposed to natural light for a significant time during the day help promote better sleep. In general, natural light can greatly help an employee’s overall health and wellness. (

2. Enjoy more energy savings with natural light. 

Even if an office uses supposedly energy efficient light bulbs, more energy savings become possible by using natural light. Especially during hours when the sun is shining brightly, the office will surely be well lit even the light switches are kept off. In addition, some studies found how artificial light sources such as fluorescent lamps may pose health risks. Using those light sources less often can reduce these risks greatly.

3. The seasonal affective disorder can be avoided. 

Some people feel a little sadder or less cheerful during the winter season. There are others who can’t wait to get home when it’s a “bed weather” day. It gets more difficult to stay alert and be productive on those days when the sun is not shining as bright because of a coming storm or just because the day is extra gloomy than usual. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing and there are chances employees can get SAD when they don’t see natural sunlight all day.

4. Expect better employee productivity with natural light. 

A Cornell University study found that eyestrain and headaches in employees are greatly reduced when they have the right amount of natural light in the office. When the wellness of employees is given importance, they become more productive. In fact, one of the most important findings of this study says that employees who are working next to a window where there is natural light offer a productivity increase of 2%.

How to Get Natural Light Into Your Office

After learning more about the benefits of natural light in an office environment, then it’s probably time to make some changes. There are plenty of ways to get natural light into the office. Even those who are not sitting next to a window can even get some sunlight in the day. Here are some suggestions:

1. Keep the curtains open. 

With more businesses using a virtual office and having their staff work remotely, its important that staff are getting plently of natural light from their home office. Curtains must be kept open for longer periods of time during the day. There are some hours during the day when the sun is shining too bright. This may make it harder for employees to work on their computers because of the light’s glare. It is best to keep the curtains or blinds down during these hours. Lighter coloured curtains and blinds may also be considered.

2. Consider floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Floor-to-ceiling windows allow more natural light to come in. If it gets too bright during the day, these windows can be lightly tinted. Curtains and blinds may also be used during some hours.

3. Install sun tunnels.

This is most effective when an office is located in a low-rise building or close to the top floor of a building. Sun tunnels are openings from the roof area so that natural sunlight can come in. More experienced contractors can even build this for more complicated spaces such as closets, inner rooms, and other areas where there’s no direct access to the roof.

Many companies offer amazing perks to their employees. Some would even make their workplaces unique, fun, and sometimes even crazy just to make sure their employees are happy and satisfied. The office must never be a dreadful place. It must be one that an employee would happily look forward to every day. Making the office a human-friendly place is not such a difficult thing. If a company offers something as simple as a human need like natural light in an office environment, then they’re already on their way to a good start.