Nick Lee: Natural light leads to a happy creative workforce

Nick Lee
Nick Lee
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With the average employee spending 90 per cent of their working day indoors, creating a bright and airy space which welcomes natural light is all-round best for business.

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In the mid-20th century, however, natural light was believed to negatively impact employee productivity and wellbeing in office spaces. Experts felt natural light and windows were the cause of distractions, eye strain and headaches.
But these theories have been disproven and dispelled – natural light is key to creating a happy and healthy working environment.
The attitudes of today’s workforces have changed too. They’re no longer content in boxy, claustrophobic office spaces, working in segregated cubicles with limited windows.
Bright, airy and open-plan spaces filled with natural light to promote productivity, creativity and wellbeing are a must to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce.
Employee health should be high on the agenda for any workplace. But with the artificial glow of laptops and the unappealing luminosity of the classic office lighting, are we putting that wellbeing at risk?
Strained vision and headaches are two of the more common issues brought on by a lack of natural light within workplace, but a study found that workers in environments with optimised natural light saw an 84 per cent drop in symptoms relating to these conditions.
It’s imperative to tackle these issues, and natural light can be the remedy to control these common office complaints.
An office space which promotes the flow of natural light is said to improve an employee’s circadian rhythm too, with research suggesting those who work in a naturally lit space sleep for 46 minutes longer each night than those who work in environments with limited natural light. Daylight is also believed to help reduce employee sick leave by up to 6.5 per cent.
Our office spaces need to promote productivity and happiness too – without these, a workforce can become unengaged, disillusioned and idle.
Yet through allowing natural light in, these can be avoided, and you can create an environment where your staff want to be, not one where they just have to be.
Workspaces with high levels of natural light are said to increase employee productivity by up to 40 per cent, whilst workers in these conditions were said to be 15 per cent more creative.
The workforce of today doesn’t want the dark and dingy – they want a bright, illuminated space.
At Kirkstall Forge, we understand the importance of having natural light flood workspaces – that’s why it’s an integral part of our state-of-the-art office design.
Our award-winning Number One office has a full-length glass façade to draw in as much natural light as possible, and our second office space in Leeds, Two, will follow suit.
An open-plan design and high ceilings also allow for light to flow freely across our commercial space.
Outside, employers and employees alike can benefit from exploring the surrounding wooded valley and canal path to further soak up natural light and engage with the outdoors.
The future of the workplace is bright, light and airy.
By adopting this mentality, you’ll have healthy and productive staff who are happy with where they work.

Nick Lee is the development director at CEG