Windows Can Contribute to Employee Morale, Health, And to Company Productivity
Windows have an important place in our work environment. We all know that having a “corner office” with windows facing in two directions confers a higher status to its occupant. And in general, we know that having an office with even one exposure trumps working in a windowless office.
The reason that a windowed office is so appealing is that people at work – just as in their homes – want to have a view of the outside world, preferably a nature view. Views tend to add to a sense of peace and contentment. Without a view to the outside, many people feel hemmed in and claustrophobic. Furthermore, natural light delivers positive benefits for people’s health and well-being.
Indeed, windows – or the lack of them — play a critical role in the business environment, more than most of us realize or think much about. Environmental psychologists – who study the effects of environments in the workplace, at home and in other venues – say that windows can deliver a wide range of benefits in terms of worker morale, productivity and health.
The impact of windows in the work environment has been documented by many studies conducted by psychologists and managerial experts. These studies have shown that windows and their views have the effect of increasing employee motivation, with consequent positive effects on their productivity, contributing to greater company profitability. Conversely, as one study stated, “coming into a small grey box with no windows each day can be detrimental to motivation.”
Many studies have shown that if an employee’s desk is close to a window, their productivity tends to increase. This is even more pronounced, the studies show, if their view includes trees and open spaces. “Locating your company [in] a business park with a pleasant environment could have a huge impact on the happiness of your employees,” and therefore on employee motivation, one study indicated.
The study added that “happier employees work better with others, are more creative, fix problems rather than complaining about them, have more energy, are more optimistic, are more motivated, have fewer sick days, learn faster, make fewer mistakes and make better decisions. All of these positive aspects provide a great incentive for the employer to put the effort into investigating and subsequently improving the happiness levels of their employees.”
The Positive Effects of “Daylighting”
Natural lighting, or “daylighting,” delivers many positive benefits to employees. A review of many studies on daylighting, titled “A Literature Review of the Effects of Natural Light on Building Occupants” (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2002), observed that if an employee’s desk is near a window, then their productivity is increased, and this is even more pronounced if their view consists of trees and green open spaces.
Specifically on productivity enhancement, the same literature review cited studies showing that office worker productivity can increase with the quality of light. One study showed that “natural
light increases attention and alertness during the post-lunch dip and has been shown to be helpful in increasing alertness for boring or monotonous work.”
Another study reported that job satisfaction and work attitudes were significantly related to the presence of windows. It is not surprising, the literature review reported, that “windows have served as a promotion perk, with corner offices higher on the promotion ladder.”
Other studies have focused on the health benefits provided by windows and natural lighting in the workplace. The literature review cited studies showing that “the proper use of daylighting decreases the occurrence of headaches, SAD (Seasonally Affective Disorder) and eyestrain.”
The literature review also reported on studies showing that windows and/or the presence of plants in the work environment can help reduce stress (as measured by lowered blood pressure) and increase focus on the job at hand.
The Bottom Line
As these studies show, providing as many employees as possible with close proximity to windows, especially with views of nature, can deliver benefits for both employees and the business they work for. While windows cannot, in and of themselves, improve a company’s bottom line, they can certainly contribute to improvement in employee health and productivity – with a positive contribution to company profitability. Therefore, it is worth an employer’s time and effort to consider the benefits that windows can provide, and to act accordingly.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory – A Literature Review on the Effects of Natural Light on Building Occupants
- Are Windows and Views Really Better? – A Quantitative Analysis of the Economic and Psychological Value of Views
- Self Growth – Work Environment’s Effect on Employee Happiness
- The Nature of the View from Home: Psychological Benefits
Lew Koflowitz is an associate of Aeroseal Windows & Storefront, a commercial windows and doors company. He writes on a variety of topics, such as window efficiency, statistics, and the many benefits of windows in the workplace and the home.