How Windows And Lighting Can Boost Employee Productivity
Table of Contents
The Current Set-Up
While Work-From-Home setups have indeed afforded us benefits that resemble “time for self”, having been able to take us away from daily traffic and the prying eyes of our employers, it does bring a whole new set of challenges.
We can chalk it up to middle-class caprice or mere ungratefulness, sure, but the feelings of isolation and despondency brought by being shuttered inside and working 8-10 hours at home should not be, in any way, invalidated.
Humans are social beings. Say what you will about clinical disorders or personal psychological inclinations, but it simply cannot be denied that we have an intrinsic need to physically connect with others. Being provided with multiple online communication platforms simply does not cut it, if anything it reinforces the feeling of being left out. Once the session is ended and the application is closed, the user is made to realize that digital communication is a poor substitute for physical interaction.
It may be a tough affair for others who have an outgoing personality. Being kept at home might spell anxiety should things stay in inertia. But of course, succumbing to defeat is never and should never be an option for the mature and well-adjusted. There are ways by which the atmosphere could be improved.
It is also good news that global restrictions are being progressively lifted. A number of companies are opening up options of hybrid work schemes while some are requiring employees to report onsite fully. May it be the continuance of working from home or reporting full-time to the office, certain tweaks in the mode of working would not only help pry us from our unintentional aloofness but will also help boost creativity and productivity.
Working in an enclosed space? While it might serve to create a mood or an atmosphere that would compel focus, (or sometimes needless drama that excites people) it is far from being a healthy practice.
Natural lighting does the mind and the body good. According to recent studies, a workspace decked with huge windows that have access to urban sights and green landscapes is more than ideal for keeping employees driven to work.
The studies further show that keeping people in a space that does not have any windows tends to exhaust employees, leading to a lack of productivity.
It is encouraged that windowless offices make use of mirrors to not only reflect light but also make the illusion of extending the otherwise confining spaces.
If possible, ask for a desk near a window. A study by Dr. Alan Hedge, a Design and Environmental professor at Cornell University, postulates that workers who have their workspaces near a window that allows for rich, natural light are found to be healthier. The study reported a dramatic 84% decrease in eyestrain, blurred vision, and headaches which are telling signs of Digital Eye Strain commonly caused by staring in front of a computer for extended periods of time.
Dr. Hedge’s study also reported that this caused a drop of 10% in drowsiness and a 2% boost in employee productivity.
An experiment called the “Hawthorne Effect“, a study that was done in the mid-20th century supports the findings above. In a controlled environment where a group of factory workers was split into 2 groups, one being exposed to natural light and the other in an enclosed space, it was proven that the former had higher marks in productivity and task completion.
And as windows can manage water as these are sealed to the exterior surface, employees who work beside or near them need not worry when the rainy season starts. Some might even prefer hearing the pouring rain as they work as the sound of it brings about a certain calm. In fact, studies show that when rain sounds enter the brain, these produce alpha waves which help it to relax.
But how about companies that have night shifts? It would help employers to use artificial light. It would also be recommendable to decrease the brightness of the computer screens.
Employers should look into managing the light temperature of all computer units and even light bulbs (if possible) for them to emit a bluer tone. This color is reported to foster a mood that boosts productivity.
The Dark Brings Out The Best
While bright lights do help in keeping employees enervated in their workspaces, dimmer environments are found to help invigorate creativity.
Working in such spaces would allow for the emergence of non-conventional ideas as it gives the feeling of not being supervised, making employees more calm and collected.
Having to sit for a good 8-9 hours for work, despite having the benefit of good lighting, might still prove damaging to the body. Sitting for an extended period of time has been found to be the culprit of a number of health issues such as high blood sugar, spikes in blood pressure, excessive body fat around the midsection, and a rise in cholesterol levels.
Employers who value their employees’ health are advised to conduct Walking Meetings. This approach to regular company convocations has been gaining popularity of late—and for good reason. Also called a Walk and Talk meeting, it is simply what your mind might picture it to be: a meeting wherein its participants walk instead of just sitting in front of a table.
Not only is physical health accounted for in walking, but it also supports mental fitness. Recent studies show that walking helps decrease symptoms of depression as it keeps blood flowing into the brain.
Studies also postulate that walking causes the central nervous system to function better, making one’s response to stress better. As this is the case, Walking Meetings boost creativity and productivity. On top of that, walking with co-workers while being in a meeting opens up a whole new dynamic that could serve to foster a professional culture marked by fun and camaraderie, given the Walking Meeting’s adherence to a non-traditional format.
An employer who takes employee welfare seriously is worth keeping.
In the current professional climate, it is easy to get buried in work. It is even easier to take your health for granted. Despite being easy tweaks in daily work structures, the ways discussed in this piece will definitely help in the long term.
The employer who puts these into practice will not only help keep his or her business running smoothly but will ultimately help employees to find professional and personal satisfaction.
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