Balancing the Need for Privacy & Light in Commercial Spaces


Two attributes of a commercial space that tenants commonly desire are privacy and natural light. However, those two traits are often at odds with one another. Windows are the primary source of natural light, and interior glass walls and partitions allow the natural light to permeate even further into your space. Unfortunately, if light can pass through the glass, so can the gazes of passersby. Unless, of course, the glass is treated with decorative film.

Why Natural Light is Beneficial

Natural light offers many fundamental benefits to your tenants. According to a survey by Future Workplace, employees desire access to natural light over any other office perk, outranking all of the other trendy benefits offered by modern companies, such as fancy espresso machines, standing desks, or a snack closet.

Natural Light Promotes Improved Employee Wellbeing

An employee’s preference for natural light stems from their basic biological needs. Adequate exposure to natural light throughout the day aids in deep, restful sleep at night. Considering that quality of sleep affects nearly every aspect of our wellbeing, receiving as much rest as possible positively influences our health and happiness. Natural light provides an excellent source of Vitamin D, which is known to promote stronger immune systems, lessen chronic pain, prevent diabetes, and fight depression. Furthermore, exposure to natural light is known to reduce optic-related issues including eye strain, headaches, or blurred vision by up to 84%.

Natural Light Is Positively Correlated with Productivity & Sales

Plentiful natural light is also associated with increased workplace productivity and sales performance. The improved productivity brought by natural light is likely correlated with the improved sleep quality and boosted physical and mental benefits of Vitamin D exposure. A study by Pacific Gas & Electric showed significantly higher sales performance in retail stores with more natural light. In fact, the study found that Walmart stores with natural light infiltrating into the space via skylights garnered 40% higher sales than their fluorescently-lit counterparts. 

While these benefits directly improve the health and happiness of your tenants, they also prove advantageous to property managers. Why? Because happy and healthy tenants who are running thriving businesses generally pay their rent consistently and renew their leases.

The Value of Privacy

Although office workers greatly value a brightly-lit, openspace environment, certain circumstances necessitate privacy. The information presented in employee evaluations and finance meetings are often not intended for viewing by those outside of the meeting. Glass conference rooms can resemble a fishbowl, with potentially confidential information on display for the rest of the office to see. This lack of privacy can present HR and financial compliance issues.

As a result, the desire for both natural light and privacy in the workplace presents a dichotomy. Natural light passes through glass windows, walls, and partitions because glass is inherently clear. However, clear glass offers no privacy. Can property managers provide the best of both worlds to their tenants? Or are they forced to choose between natural light or privacy?

The Compromise: 3M Decorative Glass Finishes

3M Decorative Glass Finishes, also known as frosted films, serve as an attractive and functional compromise to the natural light versus privacy dilemma. Available in a wide range of textures, patterns, opacities, and colors, decorative film permits the passage of natural light while obscuring the view from one side of the glass to the other. Frosted film presents the same aesthetic as etched or sandblasted glass, but at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, branding can also be integrated into the application of decorative film with logo cutouts or printing directly onto the film.

3M Decorative Film is ideal for:

  • Glass conference room walls
  • Exterior windows
  • Glass cubicle dividers
  • Office suite entrances
  • Glass room dividers/panels

With decorative film, tenants reap the physical and mental benefits of natural light in the workplace while also enjoying the privacy and confidentiality they need to comply with HR and financial regulations. Download our product catalog to see the endless possibilities of 3M Decorative Film.

energy products distribution (EPD) Logo DarkGrey
Energy Products Distribution (EPD) offers a tremendous breadth of 3M window film solutions and architectural finishes to architects, property managers, schools, energy service companies, and more. From improved energy efficiency and enhanced aesthetics to increased safety and security, EPD provides a product to meet the needs of your space. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of window film.