Lighting, The Neglected Hero
In order to get the ultimate outcomes of the team members, employers make sure to provide all the necessary productivity tools in the workplace. They know that it’s an essential step to get the most out of the system: produce better goods, offer greater services, and generate higher revenue.
However, most of them forget about a simple, but essential, productivity factor: proper lighting.
Lighting can have a tremendous impact on one’s concentration and productivity, especially those of office workers. In fact, several studies prove how lighting can impact your productivity at work or at home. It has a deeper impact on our lives than we had ever known.
Effects of Bad lighting On Office Workers
68% is the percentage of employees complaining about the lighting situation in their offices, according to a study by the American Society of Interior Design.
This means that the majority of workspaces have an inadequate lighting system and that lighting should be one of the first things to take into account in the office design phase.
The negative effects of poor office lighting are:
Eye strain, or eye complications
Poor office lighting causes extra strain on the eyes.
Most of our jobs require staring at the bright light of a computer screen all day, which leads to eye fatigue.
This combination of conditions can disturb your ability to focus, and therefore lower your productivity.
Headache and migraine
High-intensity lights in offices are usually one of the reasons workers experience migraines and headaches.
If the work environment is an open space, it could affect the overall productivity of the company.
Drowsiness / fatigue
As a result of the two previous side effects, you might also feel exhausted.
Poor lighting affects the vision and causes a headache, therefore create discomfort and fatigue.
Lack of sleep
Our sleeping cycle, circadian rhythm, is controlled by natural lighting. After the sunset, our bodies start to generate melatonin, the sleep hormone, and we feel the need to sleep.
Companies have to make sure that the light provided during office hours is natural light. Because this way, the employees will stay energized for a longer time, and their quality of sleep will be improved. As a result, they will be more productive.
Long exposure to blue light in the evening can disturb our sleeping cycle.
Studies have found that light affects how much we eat, how fast we eat, and what kinds of food we want to eat.
In the case of brightly-lit rooms, people were found to eat slower and lighter meals. But they usually overeat in rooms with dim lighting.
A thing that should be considered as overeating causes laziness and the desire to sleep.
Effects of Good lighting
The impact of proper lighting isn’t limited to decreasing depression and improving mood, alertness, and productivity. But it also helped countless companies across the globe to save up money and increase revenue.
In the late 1980s, the US post office in Reno, Nevada, decided to renovate the building lighting. Not only did the company save $50,000 in its energy bill that year, but a productivity boost was noticed among its employees, resulting in a better outcome than the actual energy saving bills. The revenue was expected to increase by $500,000 per year.
So, to sum up. Proper lighting makes you:
- More energetic
- More alert
- More creative
- Less depressed
- In control of your appetite
- Save money on bills
What Is Color Temperature – Light Temperature?
Color temperature is a way to describe the light appearance provided by a light source.
In other words, color temperature or light temperature, measured in Kelvin (K), is the numerical measurement of color that is emitted when an object is heated with a high enough temperature.
It’s like when a farrier is making a horseshoe: it goes from red to orange, yellow, then white and then finally, bluish-white.
When the temperature increases, the object changes color and starts emitting various colors of that light.
There are three categories of color temperature:
- Higher color temperatures (4,600K or more)are known as cool or daylight colors as they appear blue-white.
- Mid-range color temperatures (3,100K to 4,500K)give off a cool white appearance.
- Lower color temperatures (2000K to 3,000K)are considered warm colors and range from red to yellowish-white.
The following image shows the three categories of light temperatures:
Warmer tones, which create a sense of comfort, should be used in intimate settings if you want workers to feel calm and relaxed, like the meeting room, for example, if you wish to create a sense of trust with them.
Middle tones should be used to instill a friendly and inviting environment, like in conference rooms, but they should also have cool enough tones to keep workers motivated and alert.
Natural Lighting Is The Ideal Solution
According to several studies, natural light has a fascinating impact on our bodies. We become more alert, more productive, and happier.
Not only it reduces the rate at which workers have headaches, stress, levels of anxiety, and drowsiness, but it’s also a great way to reduce energy bills.
That’s why designers should always focus their efforts on finding new, creative ways to allow natural light to flood through the workplace.
*The Global Human Spaces Report found that natural light is the #1 desired natural element in workplace design.
*In a Leesman study of 250,000 employees worldwide, 75.8% of employees said that they prefer natural light, whereas 56.9% of them are satisfied with their current workplace arrangement.
*Psychology Today reported on a study titled ‘Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life,’ and found that compared to workers in offices without windows, those with windows slept an average of 46 minutes more per night, and had better outcomes in quality of life measures
Light Bulbs 5000K To 6500K
Since it would be very very expensive, and sometimes impossible due to the weather, to ensure that every desk or work area benefits from natural light in a building, light office designers opted for a light source that can have the same impact as natural lighting. And this new light source was the blue light.
Blue light reduces melatonin generation, the hormone that causes our desire to sleep, which makes us more alert and awake for the day.
It was proven that blue-enriched light bulbs that are 17,000 K increase alertness and creativity, boost worker performance, and improve mental vitality.
A study was done by the University of Greenwich researchers on office workers. They were put under “blue-enriched light bulbs” for two-months. When the experiment ended, workers were found more to be much happier, alert, and were said to have less eye strain.
Generally, there are two modes of artificial light. These include; the dim light and the high-intensity light.
The majority of offices use Hight-intensity lighting, like fluorescent and halogen lights.
This kind of lighting is usually harsh. It causes workers to get headaches or even migraines, and it can be detrimental to the eyes due to the sudden high-intensity light exposure.
Dim lighting is usually associated with relaxation and winding down after work.
Using dim lighting at work can be a good idea when welcoming a new client; or when having a meeting where everybody should be relaxed.
But it can be a bad idea to use it as a permanent light in the workplace. Not only it can cause headaches and eyestrain but it can also cause drowsiness and inner weakness, which in turn affects the efficiency of the workers and reduces their overall work productivity.
3 Types of Lighting Depending on The Activity
It’s very important to relate the kind of lighting to the kind of work or activity performed at the workplace.
There are three main types of lighting:
Task Lighting: If the person wishes to illuminate a specific area when reading, writing or working with both hands. Sometimes, during cloudy days, you need it when there is a deficiency of natural light.
Accent/focal lighting: This type of lighting is used to illuminate things put up for display like a miniature model for a client.
Ambient Lighting: A brighter form of lighting, used in hallways, conference rooms, and reception areas. It gives better illumination. Some offices use fluorescent lighting as it is less expensive, but it can impact the workers’ health and productivity in the long-term. If your office has it already, use natural lighting to negate its negative effects.
Decrease Your Exposure To Artificial Light
Turn down overhead lights
We as human beings have a knack for thinking that more lighting is better for us. Our eyes aren’t wise when it comes to determining the actual levels of light, because they define them based on the comparison.
You will probably get the feeling that the office isn’t bright enough as the hallway, even though it has the exact same brightness.
Besides, if our eyes get more exposure to light, it will create a ‘disability glare,’ which makes it even harder for us to see things clearly.
Therefore, get the right amount of light recommended by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and don’t worry about the rest.
Decrease the blue light
LED lights, fluorescent lights, laptops, tablets, smartphones, all are blue light emitters.
As I mentioned before, blue light is a great energy booster, it increases our attention, mood, and energy. But too much blue light during the day, particularly after sunset, can disrupt your sleep cycles.
The solution is to look for lighting alternatives that give off less blue light, like having blue light blocking glasses (link to Amazon), or installing a blue light blocking app on your smartphone or tablet.
The Positioning Of Office Furniture affects Lighting
Office furniture has to be set in a way to:
1)Get the maximum of natural lighting:
While designing or renovating the office lighting, designers have to make sure to position all of the office furniture in a way as to enjoy and fully utilize natural light.
It has a very positive effect on overall work productivity.
2)Avoid the direct contact of artificial lighting
Office furniture should be arranged in a way that allows workers to face opposite the artificial lighting.
Reducing direct contact with artificial lights will prevent you from having headaches, migraines, or eye strains.
To ensure that the workers get the maximum of comfort inside the office, employers should also provide good furniture like:
- Ergonomic office chairs with lumbar support: to avoid back pain and to sit comfortably
- Standing desks or standing desk converters: to fight laziness and keep being active during the workday.
Human Beings Like To Be In Control
Being different is human, so it’s normal that employees’ lighting preferences aren’t the same. The amount of light that is best differs from one person to another as well as the tasks they want to get done.
Therefore, the solution is to opt for flexible lighting.
With more light options at workplaces, employees experience a greater sense of comfort and control over their surroundings.
Companies should install lights with dimmers on them, provide lamps that can be turned on and off based on a person’s preference or task.
This lighting flexibility allows employees to create the atmosphere they need to be productive at work. When employees work in a pleasant environment, their output will increase and the company will prosper.
What Can I Do If I Have No Control Over My Office Lighting?
Use A Desk Lamp
Having a desk lamp is always a good idea.
If you are in an open plan office, you will certainly need a desk lamp with an adjustable head for task lighting. You can manipulate it to get the right amount of lighting you need to the specific task in hand.
Adjust the lighting settings
Adjust the contrast and brightness settings on your computer screen. Move the monitor closer and/or change the angle to a position that minimizes screen glare.
Sitting in the same position for too long, or staring at the same spot for extended periods is counterproductive, and will cause eye strain and neck ache.
Remove light blockers
Try to remove anything that could obstruct light, like shelves, or file cabinets…
Final Thoughts - How Lighting Can Impact Productivity
Lighting is one of the factors that should not be overlooked.
The nature and type of lighting both matter. For this reason, the workplace should be designed in a way to get the peak of performance. This means:
- More natural light
- Less artificial light
- More lighting options
- Ergonomic setting of office furniture
Lighting can significantly alter the work rate and productivity of workers. Apart from its physical effect, there are also psychological effects that can affect productivity.
Have you ever faced lighting issues in your workplace? Tell us about it in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you.