Over a third of the UK workforce does not see natural light during the day

Abigail Fenton
About 36% of working Brits don't see natural light from one day to the next. Photo: Luke Chesser/Unsplash
About 36% of working Brits don't see natural light from one day to the next. Photo: Luke Chesser/Unsplash

Stuck inside for more than 40 hours straight, each week, over a third of working Brits do not even see natural daylight during the work day.

A survey of 2,000 workers by Nature Valley found Britain to be a “sedentary nation”, with 84% of UK workers admitting there are days they don’t leave the office from the minute they get in, to the moment they leave at the end of the working day, while 36% do not see natural light from one day to the next.

Connecting with nature “isn’t easy” in “today’s frantic and pressure-filled workplace”. But spending the entire day stuck in the office often leaves workers feeling “trapped” (31%) and “cooped up like battery farmed chickens:” (22%).

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Just over a third (34%) admitted to never taking a lunch break, instead preferring to opt for a quick lunch at their desks, despite eight in 10 bosses and senior managers taking their lunch hour every single day.

Of those surveyed, more than half (57%) of civil servants and government officials top the poll with never or nearly never taking a full hour lunch break, compared to the national average of 17%, which was closely followed by 49% of healthcare workers.

“City-dwellers spend more than 90% of their time indoors, leading to a range of problems for workers, including everything from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter months due to a lack of natural daylight and Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), especially in buildings with poor ventilation,” Professor Charles Spence, experimental psychologist at the University of Oxford, explained.

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He added: “The good news is that an hour spent outside is proven to drastically improve short term memory, spark inspiration and decrease stress levels.”

The research found that, even for those with the urge to get out into nature for lunch, it’s a “constant battle to find the time and opportunity to reconnect”, the extent being that 3 in 5 don’t often go outside on their lunch break.

In fact, 15% of workers confessed to having worked in an area for years but never explored their surroundings, and 13% of which don’t even know where their nearest nature spot is.

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Professor Spence said: “The longer your exposure to nature the better, so an hour is a great amount of time to spend outside during your lunch. Hearing and seeing nature is better than just seeing it, and add it to the smell of nature, our health, and well-being improvements are likely to jump even further.”

“We can’t all climb a mountain, trek through a forest, or dive into a lake on our lunch break but even a little bit of nature does us a world of good. For some, the ‘great outdoors’ can feel a long way away.”