Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunlight and Productivity

In any commercial activity, profits are linked to productivity. Any drop in output, either in terms of actual work output or creativity will result in a loss of income. That is why many businesses, both large and small, are going the extra mile to working environments that promote higher levels of mental and physical performance as well as emotional calm. While the results on this are always positive, many companies overlook the importance and contribution of sunlight to improved performance. Man is by nature a diurnal creature that performs best during the daylight hours. The reason for this is not only one of conditioning. There are physiological reasons for this.

Daylight Energizes

A recent study has found that Seasonal Affective Disorder, or ‘winter blues’ as it is commonly known, is caused by a lack of sunlight. In winter, with shorter days and cloudier skies, the body is exposed to less sunlight which causes the serotonin level in the human metabolism to drop. Serotonin is the chemical that affects moods and low levels have been linked to depression and feelings of dullness and apathy.

The effects of inadequate sunlight exposure can occur at any time of the year. People who spend long hours indoors, under artificial light, will often have low serotonin levels as well as other health related problems like vitamin D deficiency which affects joints and movements.

Inadequate Sunlight = Inadequate Output

The solution is obviously to expose the workforce to more sunlight. That does not mean moving outdoors and working in fields and gardens. Attractive as that may sound; it is not practical or viable. The solution is to bring more sunlight into the workplace.  Having an office with lots of windows is not enough. There will be interior areas where sunlight does not penetrate.

This is where daylighting systems or tubular daylighting devices (TTDs) can make a huge difference. These systems capture sunlight during the daytime hours and carry it through special reflective pipes to building interiors. The sunlight exposure available to people in these spaces makes up for their not being out in the open. This will allow the human body to function according to its normal circadian rhythm (24 hour cycle) and enable people to perform better. Look at the daylight available in your office and if more is needed, a surprisingly small investment will produce a significant return.

Installing a daylighting system in the workplace is not difficult. The technology available today means that the leading TDD manufacturer has systems that can carry the light into almost any interior area. Once installed it works for free. Besides the psychological and physiological benefits, the reduction in electricity usage translates to lower utility bills. The savings here will also contribute to an improved bottom line.