Happy employees equal a productive workforce. Who doesn’t want to get the most bang for our buck? And having a happy, healthy team means optimal output all the way around. But how does office window tinting play into this conclusion? Let’s explore the impact of lighting on employees.
Who would’ve thought that lighting has so much to do with all of this? In recent decades we’ve learned the importance and dangers of UV exposure. Skin cancer has grown as the ozone layer has become more depleted. Yet, we are assured we need the sun to be healthy.
Vitamin D Deficiency
It’s proven that Vitamin D production in our bodies is necessary for our physical and mental well-being. Moreover, it can help reduce anxiety. Ultimately, we need sunlight to help our bodies create Vitamin D.
Numerous studies have determined that because the majority of us live inside a building for work, we aren’t receiving as much sunlight as we should be to maintain optimal or even minimal health. As human beings, we are designed for bright daylight exposure. And we require complete darkness for sleeping to achieve optimum sleep levels. Both of these aspects of our daily lives add to our overall happiness and health.
Most of us are aware of the sun’s negative aspects as well. Too much exposure can lead to skin cancer. But where is that happy medium? We want to be emotionally healthy without enduring skin cancer. How much is too much?
Types of Light
The sun emits different types of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Some are more beneficial while others are more detrimental. Let’s study the differences.
- UVA emits approximately 97% of the UVR reaching the planet earth. This is what penetrates the skin and can contribute to skin cancer.
- UVB are the rays that cause sunburn, yet most enable the synthesis of Vitamin D.
- UVC is considered the most harmful UV ray. However, it is believed that UVC does not radiate from the earth’s atmosphere.
In addition to Vitamin D synthesis, there are numerous benefits from exposure to natural light. Sunlight also plays a critical role in maintaining circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of our body’s internal clock, running in the background to carry out essential functions. One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle.
Additionally, the sunlight triggers melatonin creation and release which is vital to regulating circadian rhythms. A lack of sunlight exposure can cause an alteration in melatonin production. The body produces melatonin when there is an absence of light and it is melatonin that allows us to sleep well. Without it, we are not experiencing optimal health. Simply stated, people tend to feel better overall and even energized in daylight.
History of light in buildings
We haven’t always had electric lighting, much less fluorescent lighting. Initially, buildings and homes were built with primary consideration given to the sun. The ancient Romans had a law referred to as the “right to light”. The details of that law were that if someone had enjoyed light through a particular window for twenty years that they had a right to continue to enjoy that light. This meant that others were prevented from building in ways that would obstruct that light.
Many centuries later we have skyscrapers next to skyscrapers that greatly impact the amount of sunlight that enters into that building on any given day. After decades of moody and lethargic employees, it finally occurred to someone that perhaps we humans need more sunlight. Of course, they were right. The 1990 ‘Light and Health’ study concluded that daylight was crucial for the health of working people.
Prior to the 1950s daylight was the primary source of lighting for the interior of buildings. Buildings were planned and built in shapes designed to augment available daylight. Light penetrates through a window into a building approximately 16 feet. Anything outside of that spectrum was considered to be inadequately lit.
In the 1960s fluorescent lighting was introduced. Unfortunately, conventional fluorescent lighting has since been identified as a factor causing eyestrain and headaches. Needless to say, this is not conducive to optimal worker productivity. Consequently, lighting that does not cause glare or flickering, and allows as much daylight as possible is recommended.
Productivity in commercial buildings
It has been estimated that human beings spend between 80% and 90% of their lives indoors. With the majority of office work occurring during the day, office workers may have limited available daylight hours. Eight to nine hours in an office building, five or more days a week can easily lead to depression and other physical ailments.
Most of us would agree that people are a major asset and expense of any company. Productivity costs can be difficult to quantify and assess as they are not clearly visible. However, in 1993 a new Wal-Mart building was erected in Oklahoma. It was designed with daylighting via skylights in one half of the building only. Sales tracking later showed that “sales per square foot was significantly higher for those departments located in the half of the store impacted by the skylights. When compared to sales in other locations, this conclusion proved valid as well.
Ultimately, natural lighting impacts the ability of employees to perform optimally. Too much heat or glare on a computer screen can send an employee into a web of frustration and distress. Providing the ideal level of comfort within a building by applying tinted window film can ensure that your employees give you their best.
21st Century Green Buildings
Windows and lighting have long been prioritized in the design of buildings. Now we also require clean air and energy-efficient HVAC systems as well. As of late, low-embodied carbon materials have taken precedence. Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials. But none is more important than the best possible lighting. From reducing glares on computer screens to heat reduction… lighting matters.
Another recent trend for green buildings includes fewer drywall interiors and more glass partitions. This allows light to travel further into the interior of the building, affording employees optimal sunlight while at work. In an effort to provide privacy while retaining light transparency, offices have incorporated frosted glass tint that allows light to travel through the partition and further into the office space.
It is estimated that 30-50% of the energy cost in office buildings is spent on lighting. A commercial property owner could be considered negligent if they didn’t take lighting seriously. Being a 21st-century commercial property owner commands that both energy efficiency and employee comfort take precedence.
Office window tinting
As it is both costly and less low-embodied to replace glass than to apply window tint, numerous commercial building owners are opting into solar window tinting. This affords the owner a more energy-efficient building while protecting their employees from damaging sun rays or annoying glares on their computer screens.
Now we understand how window film tinting can impact worker productivity. The more comfortable the employee is, the more likely the employer to obtain maximum output. So here we are. Happy employees happen with the right window tint. Whether that be a frosted window film for privacy or an anti-glare window film to reduce frustration and increase efficiency. More and more people agree that office window tint may be the solution to a more productive workforce, particularly in large commercial buildings. And let’s face it, that is where most of us are.
Commercial window tinting is now being explored by the United States General Services Administration. Once approved by the Green Proving Ground Program, it is anticipated that office window tinting will be the preferred choice to bring commercial buildings up to par for both energy efficiency and employee productivity.
If you would like to pursue office window tinting for your commercial building, please contact us today. NGS is the leading contractor and installer of 3M™ window film in the country. Nobody does it better!
Feature Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi