I clearly remember writing about sleep pods, fun days and bringing your pet to work as innovative concepts for employee perks over the past few years. From a wellbeing perspective, I also write about the joys of health promotion campaigns and how to involve workers and the different types of programmes (Healthy Truckers and The Seven Steps to Wellbeing). So the article from Harvard piqued my interest – just what exactly is the number one workplace benefit?
Now before you go any further – just stop and think what it might be? Could it be buying holidays or free health care? Maybe sick pay or a company pension? It is none of these.
The No 1 Workplace Benefit is Natural Light
Drum roll and Ta Da
Access to natural light and views of the outdoors.
How simple, natural light is free and yet so difficult to achieve in today’s office spaces.
Recent research by Cornell University reinforces the connection of natural light and employee wellbeing. Dr. Hedge’s study found optimisation of natural light in an office significantly improves health and wellness among workers. In fact, this research revealed that workers in daylight office environments reported a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and a 56% reduction in drowsiness.
The Washington Post also reports new findings to say that people who spend more time in parks and other natural settings report higher levels of happiness – going further to suggest we should all spend 120 minutes outside to improve wellbeing.
Natural Light and Me
I reflected on the findings and remembered only last week I attended a full day conference that was held underground in central London, with no access to natural light. We went down the stairs at 9 am and did not emerge until 6 pm when it was black – where had that day gone? Down in the hole, time had no meaning, away from civilisation and for me it was an uncomfortable feeling.
My reflections also took in my best job, in terms of feeling comfortable and it was in Canary Wharf. Here I was high above the mature Thames that snaked away below me – in the day it was awesome, at night it was startling. I loved working in that building.
Do you agree or are you still wanting to take your pet to work instead?
Further Advice and Reading
The #1 Office Perk? Natural Light – and a room with a view at work from Harvard Business Review
People who spend more time outdoors lead more fulfilling lives – Washington Post (paywall)