Research Finds Daylit Offices Reduce Eyestrain and Headaches

According to a study conducted by Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell, workers in daylit office environments reported an 84 percent drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision symptoms, which can detract from productivity.

“The study found that optimizing the amount of natural light in an office improves health and wellness among workers, leading to gains in productivity,” says Hedge. “As companies look to empower their employees to work better and be healthier, it is clear that placing them in office spaces with optimal natural light should be one of their first considerations.”

With Americans, on average, spending more than 90 percent of their time indoors, providing the optimal amount of natural light is vital. Unfortunately, office environments introduce a number of challenges. Most notably, uncontrolled natural light can cause unwanted heat that can lead to intra-office thermostat wars and glare on occupants’ eyes and computer screens. Consequently, windows are often covered with blinds or shades, contributing to spaces with poor daylight.

To conduct the study, Hedge compared the experiences of workers in offices with traditional windows to workers in offices with auto-tinting smart windows that adapt to and control the energy of the sun to optimize natural light and reduce glare. The smart windows were manufactured by View Dynamic Glass.

Key findings of the study:

  • Controlled daylight unlocks significant health and wellness benefits for office workers. Workers in office environments with optimized natural light reported a 51 percent drop in the incidence of eyestrain and a 63 percent drop in the incidence of headaches, both of which can detract from productivity.
  • More natural light translates to more alert employees. Workers in offices with smart glass reported a 56 percent decrease in drowsiness.
  • Enhanced individual performance is tied to access to natural light. Workers sitting close to smart windows with optimized daylight exposure reported a 2 percent increase in productivity—the equivalent of an additional $100,000 per year of value for every 100 workers or around $2 million during the window’s lifetime.
  • The optimal amount of natural light creates a better indoor experience. Workers in offices with smart glass reported an 82 percent improvement in daylight quality.

“Despite their best intentions, companies are detracting from their employees’ health and performance by limiting their access to natural light,” says Dr. Brandon Tinianov, chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Advisory Council and vice president of industry strategy at View. “These findings are a wake-up call to every executive who wants to maximize the wellness and productivity of their workforce.”

To read the Cornell study report, visit here.

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