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Light is the source of energy for every living being. It’s a crucial part of photosynthesis which keeps plants alive and developing day-to-day. What does this have to do with office design? Well, humans actually aren’t that different!
Although we don’t use light as a basic energy source in the way reptiles and plants do, it’s still an important part of our daily wellbeing. Do you notice that you feel slow and sluggish in the winter months? This isn’t because it’s cold, but due to a decrease in the amount of vitamin D that your body is receiving. Designing your office with large windows and the right aspect can help combat this by ensuring your staff are exposed to natural light throughout the day, having a profound impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.
A recent study has shown that staff who work in a windowless environment can experience a variety of adverse affects, both in and out of the office:
Interior windows and mirrors can help increase the reach of natural light in your office beyond just the few desks next to the window. This is when an open plan layout can be a shining example and let natural light reach further corners of the office which would have previously required artificial lighting - particularly if they’re obscured behind cubicles or partitioning. While you won’t always be able to choose the aspect of your office building, you can make the most of this by strategically placing desks and shared services in an open configuration around the windows.
At Manhattan Associates we brought the outside in through positioning two tables against the window to give the perception of a single inside/outside table, cut in half by the windows. This allows light to shine through, while creating the illusion of sitting outside - providing substantial wellbeing benefits associated with sitting outdoors. Having this biophillic connection with nature actually helps decrease our blood pressure, whilst helping us feel relaxed and grounded.
Felt partitioning panels, like the ones used at Suez, are a great way to provide privacy and create a sense of space in an open floor plan. They allow natural light to flow through the panels, while the felt absorbs noise and the pattern adds colour or artistic expression. The same can be said for plant partitioning which uses indoor plants to break up spaces - with the added benefit of adding that biophilic touch to the office.
There's no doubt that a well-placed window provides economic and psychological value. Now with activity-based working, there's a higher chance for all employees to enojy natural light throughout the working week.