A Brighter Office Is A Healthier Office, New Study Claims

Offices aren’t typically regarded as paragons of health, but according to one intriguing study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University, your lonely, gray cubicle is one step closer to becoming a healthier place of employment. Doctor Phyllis Zee and associates have discovered that office employees who work in offices with more natural light tend to be less stressed compared to workers in dimmer workplaces.

The researchers found out that employees with windows beside their respective workplaces received 173 percent more natural light while working. The increase in natural light coincidentally resulted in the same employees getting 43 percent more sleep than their counterparts who worked in dimmer offices.

Employees from offices with more natural light exposure also found themselves engaging more in physical activities, actively contributing to their overall health, as opposed to employees who didn’t have windows in their places of work.

The study was published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine last June and was picked up Friday by Science Daily. Northwestern University neurologist Phyllis Zee, who led the joint study with University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign scientists, noted that workers in general are at a constant risk of declining health compared to the general population due to the employment setting they are subjected to:

“There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day, particularly in the morning, is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolis. Workers are a group at risk because they are typically indoors often without access to natural or even artificial bright light for the entire day. The study results confirm that light during the natural daylight hours has powerful effects on health.”

The scientists encouraged office designers to consider the physical and psychological health of people who will be occupying the spaces inside. Mohamed Boubekri, an architect at the University of Illinois and one of the lead authors of the study, emphasized on the importance of considering natural light in office designs.

“Architects need to be aware of the importance of natural light not only in terms of their potential energy savings but also in terms of affecting occupants’ health.”

Office work is one of the most stressful types of employment in the developed world. According to the NHS, two out of five office workers in the U.K. are “dangerously stressed“. Although there are no similar statistics to describe workers in the States, personal anecdotes continue to point towards an increase in office-related stress.

[Image from Steve/Flickr]