I like my job. I like my colleagues. I like dressing up to go to work. I like being challenged by new problems. But I’m not crazy about my company’s location. I’m increasingly irked with my office situation. I work in an office with no visual access to natural light. The same is true for my whole department, but it seems to bother me more so than it bothers them. It really bothers me. Really.

My view at my old job.

Some days it gets me really down and I feel like the guy Milton* in Office Space, though I think my stapler is safe. I’ve noticed a marked difference compared to my old job, where I sat next to a big window with a big tree right outside. I miss you, tree! I feel more tired and I can’t hold focus at the end of the day. And I wear my reading glasses a lot more. I was chatting with a friend of mine and expressed my wonder if these things were happening because I was natural light-deprived (or whatever). She said, “You know, that may be happening because you’re getting older. Those are also consequences of aging.” Thanks, friend! *snarl*

But hey, maybe it is all in my head. Maybe longing for that big bright shiny star called the sun is just a case of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Maybe my need to bask in her glory every afternoon is indicative of my Pagan self, not of my office health. Or…or maybe being called “Sunshine Girl” (my mother’s nickname for me) was a portent as well as a term of endearment.** What if it’s not just in my head, but it is just me? No one else seems to have an issue like this. *raising eyebrow*

Hmm….I shall consult the Oracle on this matter? <clickity-clack> <reading> <clickity-clack>

No. It’s not in my head. It’s not just me.

I came across this nifty, official looking report from 2002 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In this report, they review the many benefits of working in an office with natural light.***

  • Exposure to natural light improves physiological function, including the nervous system, the endocrine system and circadian rhythm. Natural light uses the wavelength of light that maximizes the function of the human eye.
  • The psychological benefits of working with natural light include improved mood and decreased fatigue. Natural lights also reduces headaches and  incidence of seasonal affective disorder. When that natural light also includes a view of nature (as opposed to a view of other building) benefits also include reduced stress and anxiety.
  • Working with natural light also has employment benefits, including increased morale, job satisfaction, work involvement, motivation, productivity and organizational attachment. Studies have also shown lower absenteeism and turnover in companies where employees work in natural light.
  • Studies have also shown fiscal benefits of natural light in the workplace. This report cites economic gains for several companies who changed from electronic light to natural light in their buildings, including the Reno Post Office, West Bend Mutual Insurance, and Lockheed Martin.

“The comforting space and connection to the environment provided to building occupants provide benefits as significant as the energy savings to building owners and managers.” — NREL Report

Well, I’m convinced I’m not just getting old. Having natural light in the workplace makes a big difference. Maybe that’s why Finland has a labor law requiring that employees have access to natural light. Talk about progressive! Kudos to countries and companies that see the value of natural light and take advantage of sun as an architectural feature in their buildings.

*le sigh* I do not work in Finland. I work where I work. In an office. In a department. Without any windows. I guess I will try some of the strategies shown here to feign sunlight and improve my disposition.

What about you, Realm? Do you work in an office with windows? Do you have any good ideas on how I can light up my office?

* Um…is this character symbolic of the fall of man, a la John Milton’s Paradise Lost?
** I do like writing about the sun!
*** The report also talks about the benefits of natural light in schools and presents pretty interesting data on the benefits. Notice the use of light in these beautiful schools.

+ Featured image, “Sun” made with pieces of glazed tile, by Waldemar Sjölander in 1972.