One of the main contributors in deciding if a person has good or bad productivity is the environment in which they work. A persons work environment can include one of many things like the people they work with or the location of their work (cubicle, outdoors, windowless room, corner office etc.). While in most cases some of us have no control over either of these factors, there are a lucky few of us who do.
Most freelancers create their own work environment, whether that be renting an office somewhere, going to a local coffee shop to work, or in most cases just working from home. No matter where you choose to work, one major thing you should consider when picking a place to work is the natural lighting.
Why is natural light important? Well in short, we are humans, we weren’t meant to be confined inside the walls of a cubicle and shut off from the outside world. We need natural light to live and to keep our minds from exploding.
Researchers at the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, reported that the impact of working in a windowless environment is a universal phenomenon.
The study took 49 day shift office workers, 27 in workplaces with no natural light or windows and 22 in workplaces with windows and natural light. They used the Short Form-36 (SF-36) to measure health related quality of life, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)to evaluate sleep quality.
The study revealed that people who worked in offices with natural light received 173 percent more natural light exposure than those without windows or natural light in their office. The study also concluded that people who work in offices with windows (ie: natural light) got 46 more minutes of sleep per night over people working in offices with no windows and had better scores on measures for sleep quality, sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness.
People working in offices without natural light also scored lower on measures like physical problems. The study’s lead author, Ivy Cheung, said that: “A sunny day is equivalent to about 10,000 lux or higher of light. Indoor office lighting typically provides only about 300 to 500 lux. Light levels needed to maintain healthy circadian rhythm are higher than those required to see well, which are levels typically used indoors.”
Working in environments with no natural light is bad for our health. I can vouch for this first hand, I worked in an office that had no natural light, just florescent’s. I felt trapped, constantly tired no matter how much sleep I got, and depressed. As soon as I would get off work I would go home and go straight to bed; I did not feel like doing anything. It not only had an impact on me while I was at work, but it affected me during my off time as well.
After about a month of this, the company I was working for moved offices to an open floor plan co-working space with a wall of windows. After this move I began to feel more energized, I woke up and was ready for work everyday, plus I could see the outdoors! I am an outdoors person, so picking a career as a web developer wasn’t the smartest choice (but hey, I like it), but to be able to see outside and work in natural light is something that helps me get through the day.
With all the research and facts behind us now, lets move on to the fun part, the showcase of designer workspaces that utilize natural light. Included with each workspace image is a little tid bit about the workspace owner. Hopefully these workspaces will inspire you to move your desk in front of a window and begin enjoying the benefits of working under natural light.
Maxime is a 24 year old Belgian UI/UX designer currently working as lead UI/UX designer at citysocializer in London, UK.
2. Irving Briscoe
Irving is a designer and interactive developer who runs a little studio called von91 based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are his favorite design apps and his text editor of choice is Textmate.
3. Martin Wright
Martin is a web designer with over 10 years experience based out of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK. He currently works at mySociety as a designer on their own in-house products and projects for citizens and democratic groups around the world.
David is an art director , designer, and frontend developer living in Cologne, Germany where he’s been since 2007. David currently works as Art Director at Fork.
Yegor, currently residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is the owner and general manager of Cosmius.me. His focus is in web design, UI/UX, and art direction.