If you haven’t considered lighting ergonomics for your new office or expanding office design, take a moment to look around. Chances are, there are areas of your office that are in dire need of a better light solution.
To give you some perspective of how many workers battle with light in their workspaces, this study conducted by the American Society of Interior Designers showed that 68 percent of employees were dissatisfied with the lighting situation in their offices. With such a high percentage, it’s safe to say that it’s more than a matter of opinion; it’s an issue employees face daily in their work environment.
When it comes to ergonomics, most attention is given to furniture and layout, but office lighting is an important (and often overlooked) factor. The numbers show that workers do notice when lighting isn’t working in their favour. You may have already heard employees complaining about flickering lights, or trying to find their own lighting solutions by playing with blinds, bringing lamps to their tables, or trying to prevent monitor glare.
The side effects of poor office lighting are hard to ignore. Dim lighting can cause headaches, lower our energy and focus, and causes other distractions that reduce productivity. On the other hand, overly bright lighting can be just as bad, causing eyes to strain, creating glares, or in some cases overheating rooms.
Even our ability to manage stress is influenced by lighting. For instance, Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, said that “Our cortisol levels drop significantly under artificial or poor lighting conditions. That means that we’ll be more stressed, and have less ability to stabilize our energy levels.”
By now, you’re probably looking for the answer to bad lighting. Here are some office lighting changes that will boost the mood in your workspace as well as give back a ROI.
Use natural lighting whenever possible
Did you know that windows are the number one determinant of an employee’s satisfaction in a building? No one wants to feel boxed in under artificial light all day, and windows instantly make a space feel more open and cheerful.
Aside from allowing us to see, natural light is so valuable because of the mental and emotional influence it has. It boost our mood, energy level, circadian rhythm, and influences hormonal balance. For these reasons, it can positively affect attendance in your workplace, causing fewer illnesses and less work related fatigue.
If you need more convincing, a study in Sleep Journal compared workers in offices without windows with those with windows. The employees who had windows and natural light in their offices received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours, and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. So, the benefits of natural light even last after you’ve left the office.
If your office doesn’t have a lot of windows, you can improve your situation by adding in skylights or using white light bulbs.
Choose smarter lamps and lightbulbs
Even with all the benefits of natural lighting, lamps and overhead lighting definitely have their own benefits. Lamps and lampshades can add a warm ambience to lobbies, or table lamps can give direct light over personal working spaces, which is especially helpful or those who might come in earlier or stay later than typical work hours.
Overhead lights can reduce glare by providing diffused, indirect lighting. They can also be given dimming capabilities, allowing greater control over rooms used for media presentations. If you want to replicate the hue of natural lighting, then look into “Daylight” bulbs. To achieve a balance between natural and artificial light and to avoid shadows and glare, it is recommended to place lights parallel to the window and the workspace.
Using energy efficient bulbs and task lights closer to desks rather than overhead lighting all day can help reduce your office energy consumption up to 67 percent. There are a lot of great task lights on the market that combine sustainable design, minimalist aesthetics, and LED or CFL sources for energy efficiency.
Ovoid Impractical Trends and Fixtures
Just because a fixture looks hip, doesn’t mean their performance is great. The recent trend of exposed-filament bulbs, like the Edison bulbs, have aesthetic appeal, but they don’t offer great light to work under. When choosing fixtures and pendant lights, pay attention to how it casts light more than how cool it looks.
However, there are some areas where you can use trendy pieces, particularly areas that showcase your company’s social atmosphere or company culture. Areas such as hallways, reception areas, lobbies, or breakrooms, are a good place for trendier light fixtures. Just make sure that your workstations have the most functional office lighting.
Reduce the annoying glare
For desktop or laptop work, diffused light is best. You’ll enjoy fewer hot spots, or glare surfaces, in your line of vision. Plus the contrasts created by the shape of objects will appear more subtle.
To reflect indirect lighting and reduce dark shadows and contrast, one design trick is to use light, matte colours and paint finishes on walls.
Benefit from a return on investment from better office lighting
When you combine energy savings with increased productivity from improved working conditions, you get to enjoy a significant return on your investment. One such case was with a U.S post office in Reno, Nevada that improved its lighting by sloping the ceiling to increase indirect lighting instead of the harsh (and sometimes hot) direct lighting. They also installed more efficient lamps with better light quality.
The lasting benefits were significant, resulting in energy savings of about $50,000 per year. But, the real kicker is that within months, machine operators had the lowest error rates, and the increase in productivity was projected to increase revenue by approximately $500,000 per year.
So, if you haven’t paid attention to how your team is using office lighting, it’s in your best interest to start. Not only will a design upgrade improve the look of your office, it will have a major impact on your company’s overall mood and creativity.