This was the attention-grabbing finding in a Harvard Business Review article from September of 2018. The surprising piece was not that office workers value natural light, but that they value it over other amenities such as onsite cafeterias, fitness centers and daycare facilities. This seems to beg the question: does daylight get the same attention during the building design phase as these other amenities? For that matter, is daylight even typically thought of as an “amenity” worth delivering (and then marketing to prospective tenants) in our buildings? Based on peoples’ general lack of satisfaction with their access to daylight in the workplace, the answer is probably no.
We don’t get enough daylight…and it’s a downer
The “Employee Experience” survey from Future Workplace served as the foundation of the HBR article. It found that over a third of office workers felt they didn’t get enough natural light. Across all respondents, 47% said they felt tired and 43% felt gloomy due to the lack of natural light and windows. This data corresponds with our own 2016 survey data covered in this blog, reinforcing that the this is a consistent issue.
Daylight makes employees better
There is good news though. Workers say that access to natural light and views (more on views in a moment) enhances their overall workplace experience, specifically:
- 78% “improve overall happiness and well-being”
- 73% “improve workplace satisfaction”
- 70% “improve workplace performance”
- 54% “improve organizational commitment”
This also correlates with our survey data which showed people feel daylight enhances their mood, energy and perceived productivity levels.
Can’t forget views
The “Employee Experience” survey evaluated daylight and views together, so data reflect workers’ perceptions of both factors. There is some logic here as the two are closely related. However, they also found a benefit specifically for views to the outdoors. Over half of those surveyed stated that protracted screen use results in eye strain or headaches. 73% said that this causes them to want a visual break, such as taking a walk or just spending a few moments to enjoy a view to the outdoors. Unfortunately, views can often by impeded. Our survey found that, of those office workers who claim to get daylight at all, blinds were obstructing views at least half the workday.
Daylight and views are under-marketed
The HBR article points out a direct connection between this desire for natural light and views and the broader trend towards designing workplaces to support occupant well-being. In short, the market is asking for this…in fact it’s why amenities like fitness centers and health-focused cafeterias are also front of mind for today’s workers. Occupants want to know how well a space supports their needs, and increasingly well-being is one of their top needs. This offers building developers, owners and designers a unique opportunity for differentiation in the market. The data suggests today’s workers value daylight and views, as part of a broader focus on wellness, but it is not marketed accordingly. The demand is there; it is up to the market to capitalize on it.
Jordan Doria is the Senior Marketing Manager for SageGlass. Jordan has a decade of experience in the building industry, working to promote buildings that are better for people and the environment. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Political Science from Villanova University (USA).