The impact of daylight in the workplace on productivity

daylight in the workplace
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The environment we work in has a huge impact on our productivity. The amount of daylight in the workplace is extremely important. But did you know that even the temperature and colour in the workplace play a role in your productivity?

Daylight in the workplace

In a few hours time the clock will go back one hour. We will switch from summer time to winter time again. Recently, the European commission recommended that EU member states stop changing the clocks in spring and autumn. It seems that a large majority of people are in favour of staying on summer time throughout the year.

It seems that these days we prefer artificial light over the natural cycle of day and night

The main purpose of summer time (or Daylight Saving Time) is to make better use of daylight. But do we even use that powerful, energizing daylight in the workplace as well as we can? It seems that these days we prefer artificial light over the natural cycle of day and night. When I look around me, workplaces with little or no daylight have practically become the norm.

As people spend more time indoors staring at computer and television screens, we experience how exposure to sunlight affects various body systems. We must also be aware of the fact that there is a huge difference between daylight and artificial light.

artificial light makes us more stressed

Negative effects of artificial light

First of all, artificial light makes us sleepier. Research shows that people who had daylight in the workplace were significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening. On the other hand, people who were exposed to artificial light were significantly sleepier at the end of the evening.

Second, artificial light makes us more stressed. Our cortisol levels also change significantly under artificial or poor lighting conditions. That makes us more stressed and means we will have less ability to stabilize our energy levels.

So, being exposed to dim light as well as too much artificial light makes us both sleepy and more stressed. Paying attention to these rhythms can transform your productivity for the better.

Circadian rhythms

Circadian rhythms are biological, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. They respond to light and darkness within our environment. Circadian rhythms are found in almost every living thing, including: human beings, animals, plants and even microbes.

Circadian rhythms are produced within the body. They are mostly affected by signals from the environment. Light is the main thing that influences circadian rhythms. Exposure to light turns the genes that control an organism’s internal clocks ‘on’ and ‘off’. Circadian rhythms dictate our: sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions.

We can link disruptions of circadian rhythms to sleep disorders. Disturbed circadian rhythms have also been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

men usually get hot quicker than women

Temperature in the workplace

Temperature also plays a rol in our productivity. Research shows that when temperatures were low, employees made more mistakes than at optimal room temperature (around 20/25 degrees Celcius).

The explanation could be that, if you are feeling cold, you are using a substantial amount of energy to keep warm.

Some research even shows that there is a difference between men and women. Because of their their greater muscle mass, men usually get hot quicker than women. At the same time, women have a greater number of constricted vessels that keeps blood near the skin’s surface. Partly because the female body has the biological tendency to pool blood around the core organs. This draws it away from the extremities and leaves women with the constant need to warm up their cold hands and feet.

Orange is the ideal colour for energy

Colours in the workplace

The use of colours in the workplace is also very important. Using the right colour can produce remarkable results, while the wrong colour could have negative effects. The colour theme can really make a difference.

What colours can improve your concentration and productivity?


Blue colours encourage better performance. It lowers blood pressure and slows down the heart rate, promoting a relaxing atmosphere to study or work in. It stimulates a better state of mind, so you can keep the ideas flowing. Stronger shades of blue support the brain’s thought processes and lighter shades help improve concentration.


Orange is the ideal colour for energy. It promotes better focus, concentration, and creativity. It encourages you to keep the room organized so you’re motivated to study or work anytime. A strong and bright intensity can stimulate, but can also be distracting.


Green is considered a restful shade. It offers the cheerful qualities of yellow and the refreshing abilities of blue. It also has a calming effect since we associate it with the colour of nature. It promotes security and relieves stress and lets you relax and think from a better perspective.

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