Is a Picture Window Worth 10,000 Words?

Chris Grenville
20th February 2017

Relationships Matter

Studies have found that workers are more productive when they work close to windows. Unfortunately, with the cost of office space, most workplaces only have a limited number of workstations located near windows. Here are ways intelligent office design can improve productivity without having to knock holes in the walls.

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Workplace Design
Office Design

Studies have shown that employees with windows received an average of 173% more exposure to white light while at work. They also slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who lacked natural light exposure during work.

Magic Windows

While studies show that working near a window has health benefits and improves productivity, there is no simple answers as to why windows make a difference. There appears to be a number of factors that come into play. These combine to have a collective impact on workers. The types of jobs in window offices might often play a role in better health among window-side workers.

Workers without windows reported less physical activity and an overall lower quality of life and poorer health than their windowed counterparts. Other studies have shown that those will more fulfilling jobs, higher pay, and a better autonomy at work also have better health than others in the same industry. Even aside from this, studies do show improved performance when working near windows. The lack of light can lead to seasonal depression but even a routine lack of exposure to light seems to inspire people to exercise more.

Lighting

Studies have shown that employees with windows received an average of 173% more exposure to white like while at work. They also slept and average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who lacked natural light exposure during work. One way to try to compensate for a lack of natural lighting is to install more lights. This is more challenging that it would sound. More light can increase the amount of light in the room but the difficult is providing the right kind of light at the correct angle.

Too little light is bad but the wrong type of lighting is as issue as well as glare can reduce productivity. This makes indirect lighting with full-spectrum lightbulbs an ideal option. Lighting intensity can even be varied during the day to simulate outdoor lighting conditions and more effectively work with circadian rhythms. These natural mental and biological cycles respond to the amount of light.

There are many factors that go into to effective lighting. The colour of the light and overall amount of light. It is important to consider how diffused the light is and its angle relative to workers and their computer screens. This can make it challenging (but important) to design proper workspace and lighting, particularly with a number of workers facing different directions.

Low lighting can increase creativity. Creative industries might want to achieve a balance between cosy, creative spaces and the need for natural light. One option is to locate employee lunchrooms, conference rooms, and lounge spaces along windows, rather than reserving them for executive offices. Employees can benefit from the sunlight view as a break from their workstations while the company benefits from better productivity and employee heath.

A Cube with a View

The benefits of a window view go beyond the amount of light. Some experts believe that the view, itself, positively impacts workers. Research has found that views of natural improve mood. This can lead to better concentration and better worker performance.

Glass walls can help more workers benefit from windows, rather than only those working right next to the window. Positioning employee workstations close enough to benefit from the windows is important as is the use of materials that will allow the light to pass. Large wall screens that allow light to pass through, can also be effective options.

Is It Live or…

There are other ways to provide some of the benefits of windows, even if your building is window-challenged. Plants in the office place can offer some of the same health benefits of natural. The options go far behind the traditional office house plant.

Walls of vegetation have become more popular as a way to add nature along with sound absorption, air cleaning properties, and the functional use as a room divider. Lifelike living wall plants are available to provide a low-maintenance way to provide some of the benefits of nature.

Another way to keep employees from feeling like they work in a cave, is to install monitors. Live video feed from outside can provide many of the benefits of actual windows. Large screen televisions have become inexpensive making it practical to install them in the workplace. They can also serve double-duty, displaying company promotional videos and being put into use for client presentations. The use of both large monitors and mirrors in workplace designs can not only help move light around the office, they are great ways to make rooms look larger.

Have concerns about your workplaces? Looking for ways to improve the health and efficiency of your employees? We can help. Our experts can evaluate the acoustics, workflow, light, and functionality of your office and design ways to make it work better for you.