When we think about office lighting, the thought of rows of fluorescent tubes shining their industrial light on our workstations is a familiar sight. In fact, office lighting is such an issue that a study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design revealed that 68 percent of employees complain about the lighting situation in their offices. Other studies show that people feel much better about their own performance and productivity when they can control aspects of their environment, such as lighting and temperature.
Providing a comfortable working environment for your employees is a great way to boost performance. Check out these tips out to see how you can design your workspaces with lighting that delivers the optimal place for employees to think, create, and collaborate:
Provide personal lighting at workstations
Not everyone uses lighting the same way, so access to individual lighting is one way of ensuring every employee is getting the lighting they need. Maybe one employee is working on his computer and prefers a dim environment, since the screen offers plenty of light, while another is filling in TPS reports, which are still done on paper, and she needs plenty of light to make sure she doesn’t make any mistakes (or strain her eyes). Providing individualized lighting will keep both employees productive while they share the same space.
Give occupants control of lighting in their personal workspace through the use of “stepped” switching, dimming controls, window shades, task lighting, and occupancy sensors with manual “on” and automatic “off” functions. Occupancy sensors can be designed to control more than just lighting; they can control PCs and other desktop equipment as well.
Design around windows for natural office lighting
Numerous studies have shown the positive benefits that bringing daylight into the workplace has on occupants. These benefits include increased productivity, improved health, improved mood and reduced absenteeism; in contrast, fluorescent lighting causes fatigue and reduces productivity. When coupled with electric lighting controls, daylighting can also reduce energy use.
In order to get the most out of the available natural light, keep these principles in mind:
- Use low partitions for cubicles so that the light reaches more space in your office.
- Position shared workspaces and open spaces on outer walls, so natural light is maximized.
- Use light-colored paints and finishes to keep light from being absorbed by dark colours.
- Provide window coverings that will let light in while reducing glare and heat.
- Keep computer screens at right angles to windows.
Office lighting should be energy efficient
LED lighting allows you to reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint with energy efficient bulbs. Not only are fluorescent tubes a poor form of lighting for productivity, but they are also woefully inefficient. With today’s advanced lighting options, it’s a surprise that anyone still uses fluorescent lighting. A single T8 fluorescent tube, the most standard tubes used in offices, consumes an average of 34 watts and produces 2,500-3,000 lumens. In contrast, LED bulbs can produce 10-20% more light per watt, and have the added advantage of providing much better quality light. In addition, disposing of fluorescent tubes often requires special hazardous waste handling, since these tubes contain phosphorus and are unyielding to transport.
When you switch from incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lighting to LEDs, you’re also able to choose specific color temperatures for different situations. Look for “warm” or “soft white” colours to ensure correct colour. “Bright” or “daylight” bulbs have a cooler blue tinge. In addition, dimmable LED bulbs can be dimmed just like incandescent bulbs, unlike CFLs and fluorescent tubes. If you really want to give your employees a beautiful setting, you might even consider using smart bulbs such as Hue lights, which allow you to change the brightness and colour of your lighting at a moment’s notice. You could even set up schedules, so that the lights automatically turn on in the morning, dim in the late afternoon, and turn off at night.
Though lighting can easily become an overlooked part of your office design, it’s important to remember how influential it is over mood, comfort, and productivity. At Streamline, lighting is always taken into consideration when designing workspaces, but there are many opportunities to improve the lighting situation in your office.