The Productivity Box: Tweak the Lighting to Jumpstart Your Performance

Whether youíre working from home or are back in an office, thereís a critical productivity element you may be overlooking: the lighting. In prior installments of this series, I talked about how exposure to lifestyle or environmental factors such as mental health resources, music, indoor plants, exercise, and natural caffeine can elevate your performance.

In this month’s jump out of the productivity box, let’s discuss the impact of lighting over work performance. When you understand the connection between optimal lighting and efficient, conscientious, dynamic workflow you can be more productive every single day.

How lighting adjustments can influence productivity

While many office perks are valuable, a recent Harvard survey found that 50 percent of employees want more comfortable lighting. Whatís more, they donít just want it, theyíre more productive and happy when they have it.

A study from Future Workplace backs Harvardís findings, reporting that a direct view of natural light can increase the following factors:

  • Employee wellness by 78 percent
  • Job satisfaction by 73 percent
  • Performance by 70 percent
  • Organizational commitment by 54 percent

Finally, the same research also indicates that constant exposure to technology screens can result in headaches, eyestrain, or drowsiness. All of these could interfere with productivity. In fact, 7 in 10 workers need periodic visual breaks in the form of natural light access to help regain focus and alertness.

If youíre ready to boost your own productivity or that of your employees, hereís how you can bring natural light into the workplace.

Position workspace to optimize natural light

In the fall and winter seasons, when daylight is scarce in certain regions, itís crucial to soak in as much natural light as possible. According to the PLOS One journal, minimal absorption to natural light can:

  • Impair your mood state or emotional regulation
  • Disturb your sleep habits
  • Cause mental health issues such as anxiety or depression

On the flip side, natural light can increase positive, balanced emotions to help you feel more energetic.

Productivity boost tip: To harness the benefits of natural light, position your desk near a window, so the sun can filter into the workspace unobstructed. If time and weather permit, you can even schedule a break to step outside for 30 minutes and enjoy the direct sunlight on your skin, giving you an emotional and productivity boost. And lots of vitamin D ūüôā

Invest in blue wavelength lights for daytime hours

When it comes to indoor lighting, the color, ambiance, and brightness impact the quality and overall effectiveness of work. Blue spectrum lights emit a cooler-hued temperature and shorter wavelength than other artificial lights. This is known to decrease fatigue, as well as improve attention, memory and concentration, reports the Journal of Circadian Rhythms.

Productivity boost tip: Blue spectrum light bulbs can be installed anywhere. Screw them into the lamp on your desk or in the overhead ceiling fixtures in the office. Remember to turn off these blue lights and minimize exposure to blue light electronics after daylight hours. While this light is helpful for working during the day, blue wavelengths can overstimulate your mind at night and cause sleep interruptions, according to a Harvard Health study. 

Equip windows with high-performance shades

Itís helpful to be in control of how much light enters your workspace. While insufficient amounts will affect your mood, over-illumination can throw off the bodyís internal clock. That tells you when to be productive and when to rest, according to the journal Current Biology. This disruption in the body can reduce immune function, weaken the muscles and bones, and overexert the eyes which could further distract or deplete you.

To avoid these problems while increasing productivity, consider the many types of window blinds or shades that allow you to regulate light exposure. Shades can minimize the glare from ultraviolet rays, moderate temperatures based on the season, filter in just the right balance of natural light, and create privacy from external distractions.

Installing shades can also save on utility costs since 30 percent of heat is lost through the windows, the U.S. Department of Energy reports. So not only does this solution help control lighting, but itís economical and eco-friendly too.   

Productivity boost tip: Install shades in every window in the office or workspace. Use them as needed to regulate the amount of light coming in the window. You may choose to alternate between bright natural light in the morning and more muted light in the afternoon to encourage your body to begin winding at the end of the day.

Jumpstart performance with the right lighting

While there are many unexpected factors that enhance your productivity, many of which Iíve already discussed in this Productivity Box series, lighting is one less spoken about. Yet it is just as effective.

Use these simple lighting tweaks to create an optimal work environment for yourself or your employees. As a bonus, the right lighting will also lead to gains in overall job performance, wellness, and satisfaction, making this small change a win-win for everyone.

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