If we asked you to name some office perks, you might say things like free breakfast, on-site gyms, ‘bring your dog to work’ days and yoga classes. But according to a new study, there’s a much more fundamental perk employees rate above all else: light.


The study, entitled ‘The Employee Experience,’ was conducted by HR advisory firm Future Workplace and polled 1,614 North American employees. Though the survey is from across the pond, the results certainly have implications for companies here in the UK.


The study’s main finding was that access to natural light, coupled with views of the outdoors, is the most important attribute of the office environment, trumping things like cafes, fitness classes and on-site childcare.


Reporting on the study, the Harvard Business Review explains how the lack of natural light and outdoor views negatively impacts the employee experience. More than one-third of the study’s respondents feel they don’t get enough natural light in the office.


When it comes to the impact of having a lack of natural light and windows, 47% admitted to feeling tired or very tired during the day, while 42% said they felt gloomy.


This desire for daylight and outdoor views may stem from our increased use of mobile devices, the article notes. In the study, 73% of respondents agreed that the more they use their devices, the more they crave a visual break, which might include going for a walk or simply enjoying an outdoor view – uninterrupted.


Backing the study is research by Professor Dr Alan Hedge at Cornell University, which showed that employees working in natural daylight experienced a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, 63% in headaches and 56% in drowsiness.


Of course, natural light isn’t the only factor contributing to employee wellbeing; for instance, one Harvard study showed a link between air quality and mental cognition. Though, in the Employee Experience study, 78% of respondents said access to light and views enhances their wellbeing and 70% reported a boost to work performance.


The article’s author, Future Workplace’s Jeanne C. Meister, makes three recommendations on how businesses can think differently about natural light in their office:


  • See the office through the eyes of employees. Tools like design thinking and employee journey mapping can help companies to grasp the moments that matter to workers.
  • Listen to employees. Conduct surveys to gain valuable feedback on the type of office they would like to work in and how this affects their wellbeing.
  • Create an optimal workplace for all employees. The needs of all employees must be factored in when designing the office space, from executives to front-line workers.


There’s no doubt you already offer a great range of benefits to keep productivity and morale sky-high among your team, but is your office designed in a way to maximise the more natural elements? If you’d like some help, speak to Kerr today.