Let the sun shine in

Do you work in the dark? If you are a leader, do your people work in the dark?

Recently, I’ve been studying the impact on light and productivity. I was looking into whether natural light improves our mood state (which would improve our business effectiveness). Not surprisingly, we are a product of our environment. Much like a bad weather day can make us gloomy and listless, a badly lit work environment can do the same.

A landmark study done by academic researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for the EPA found that natural light can improve our vision, function, productivity and mood. Check out the free PDF Study summary.

A brilliant book, Cradle To Cradle, suggests that a building with natural light flooding into the workspace by design creates a more effective workforce and retention advantage. For example, when natural light was designed into the working experience at a Herman Miller factory, retention rates were impressive. People love being outdoors and when skylights and windows pour natural light into the workaday, the overall experience is much better. In the case of the Herman Miller factory, one other advantage was noted in the book: ” A number of workers who left for higher wages at a competitor’s factory returned in a few weeks. When asked why, they told the management they coudln’t work in the dark. They were young people who had entered the workforce only recently and had never worked in a normal factory before.”

Takeaway: When ever possible, design to allow sunlight. For computer screen monitoring, invest in simple glare filter solutions or position work stations accordingly. If you have an opportunity, note who works in natural light vs who isn’t near a window and has articifical light all day. Rotate the working-in-the-dark group into light when possible if you can’t redesign. Open the blinds every morning and go out of your way to let the sun shine into your office.