Based on a survey of 1614 North American workers, access to natural light and views of the outdoors is the top attribute of the workplace environment, outranking more expensive options such as on-site childcare or fitness centres.
What does natural light have to do with digital wellbeing? Digital screens are often best viewed indoors, or at least out of direct sunlight, which means that there is a potential tradeoff between screentime and natural light time. Given a fairly robust empirical link between exposure to natural light and psychological wellbeing (and physical wellness) both at home and at work, screentime may indirectly impact negatively on wellbeing by displacing natural light with screen light. This is known as the Displacement Hypothesis, which is the leading model of how digital technology influences wellbeing. This displacement hypothesis suggests that it is not so much that digital technology is inherently bad for our wellbeing, but that digital technology can displace (or replace) activities that enhance our wellbeing (e.g. natural light, face to face interactions, physical exercise etc).
The key implication for digital innovation, and WPP digital agencies such as SYZYGY, is that we should focus on delivering positive digital solutions that respect people’s time and that do not displace physical, environmental and social activities that enhance human wellbeing.