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The Gender Absence Gap: How to Invest in Women in the Workplace

The Gender Absence Gap: How to Invest in Women in the Workplace

What is the gender absence gap, and how can organisations address it?

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Does more daylight boost productivity?

21 June 2023 6 min read

daylight boost productivity

Longer evenings, lighter mornings, better weather (fingers crossed). There are plenty of reasons why many people prefer summer over winter. But is there more to it than simply enjoying the sunshine? Could the additional daylight in the summer months actually lead to a boost in productivity and output? 

The summer solstice and productivity 

Each year on the 21st of June, our planet is tilted the most towards the sun, making it the longest day of the year (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere). This day is known as the summer solstice, and there are a number of traditions and celebrations associated with it around the world. 

Because this isn’t a religious day though, it may seem to hold no relevance in the workplace. In fact, it may pass a lot of people by unnoticed. That is, at least, on a conscious level. 

Subconsciously, our brains will be making the most of the additional daylight, and the day could even lead to a boost in productivity in the workplace. 

How does daylight boost productivity?

There are a number of studies surrounding the impact of daylight, and there are some key takeaways that could help to create a happy workforce around the time of the summer solstice. 

Natural light is good for physical health 

One of the key benefits of natural light is that it helps to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. This is essential for a number of different bodily functions, including healthy cognitive function, regulating the immune system and maintaining body weight. 

In fact, a deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to a number of different health conditions and concerns, so being able to maintain a healthier level in the summer months helps to keep employees healthier and happier, as well as potentially reducing your absence rate. 

Additional daylight also helps to remove any problems caused by artificial light, such as eye strain and migraines. There are a number of challenges caused by the modern way we work (mostly at a screen for 8-9 hours a day), and so being able to work with natural light all day during the summer months helps to mitigate the issues associated with dim or fluorescent lighting. 

More daylight helps you sleep better 

If employees are regularly going to work fatigued or having had a bad night’s sleep, they are unlikely to be as productive as on the days they come to work feeling fresh. This is because a lack of good quality sleep impairs cognitive function, and makes it more difficult to focus, be creative, and produce high quality work. 

Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between daylight exposure and sleep quality. Studies have found that workers in offices with windows slept an average of 46 more minutes per night, than those who worked in offices without windows. They also showed signs of much higher overall sleep quality – with more time typically spent in deep sleep. 

The impact of daylight on the body and our sleep cycle is well documented, and it’s due to the body’s circadian clock. This responds to daylight, and uses it as a signal to be awake. So getting more light in the day and having lighter mornings and evenings can help employees to feel more alert and awake during working hours. 

Positive impact on mental health 

Employee wellbeing is a top priority for a number of organisations right now, with many dedicating time and resources to mental health initiatives and programmes. But could the summer solstice combat mental health struggles in any way? 

A lot of research shows that it can. Depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are all linked to disruption to the circadian rhythm in the darker winter months. Whereas the additional natural light in the summer can help people to feel calmer, happier and less susceptible to the impact of stress.  

Because so much of most people’s working lives are spent indoors (probably sat at a computer), it’s a good idea to encourage employees to get out and about during the day if they can, whether this is for a walk on their lunch break or to take their coffee break outside. 

daylight boost productivity

Better perceived work-life balance 

Work-life balance is extremely important when it comes to productivity, and it’s always a challenge to try and help employees to achieve this. 

Even though their working hours may remain the same year-round, the additional daylight hours in the summer months may allow people to better balance their time and help them to feel that work-life balance is being better achieved. 

When employees feel that they’re getting a proper break from work and are being given the time for hobbies, family commitments and other activities outside of work, they’re more likely to be more productive. 

To enhance this effect, you may want to consider a “summer hours” programme, where employees are given a couple of hours extra off per week, or are able to work flexibly when it suits them. This also lend itself to adapting to the hotter weather, which can also impact productivity and performance. 

For more ideas on how to offer employees better work-life balance, download your free copy of our eBook, 7 Initiatives to Promote Employee Work-Life Balance.

So are employees more productive in summer? 

There are a number of reasons to suggest that employees could be more productive in summer thanks to the additional daylight hours and a better sense of overall wellbeing. 

However, there are other challenges during the summer that may have a negative impact on productivity. If there is a heatwave and employees are uncomfortable, they may find it more difficult to concentrate than normal. This can be exacerbated by the hybrid set-up that most people have, as employees are unlikely to have proper air conditioning at home. So you may want to consider how the office operates during the summer to give people the option of a more comfortable working environment. 

Another challenge during the summer is that according to 2022 edays data, 25.62% of annual leave is used between June and August. The busy annual leave period over the summer can disrupt operations as teams can struggle to collaborate while various people are off, and there is usually a lull in productivity straight after a bout of annual leave due to the need to catch up on emails and messages. 

Managing annual leave during the busy period doesn’t need to be a headache though. With edays absence and leave management software, we provide one configurable system that allows you to automate your processes and gain full visibility of annual leave. The group calendar tool and minimum staffing level feature can even help you to successfully manage resource to ensure that productivity doesn’t take a hit. Book your free personalised demo now. 

Jenni author blog
June 21, 2023

Jenni Littlehales is a marketing professional and an experienced author with a background in a wide variety of industries. Her understanding of people, wellbeing and associated challenges give a unique perspective in the evolving landscape of HR and technology.