Creating the best lighting for office productivity is more important than you might think. From flickering fluorescent bulbs to misplaced overheads that cast glare even on anti-glare screens, lighting can make a huge difference in workplace productivity.
The American Society of Interior Design reported that workers agree: 68 percent of employees don’t like their office lighting. Usually the lights are either too bright or too dim, either of which can result in eye strain and make it difficult to work.
One aspect of office lighting that’s often overlooked is its effect on the psychological well-being of employees. Research shows that natural light, especially from the morning sun, improves the quality of life for workers and even has an impact on how well they sleep at night. So better office lighting can elevate an employee’s mood – a plus for any company.
Even in offices with a lot of windows, some workspaces can still be dark, either because they’re not close to the windows or because of shorter daylight hours as the seasons change. Adding task lighting that can be repositioned and brightened as needed can go a long way toward improving the situation.
Task lighting can also be useful if overhead lighting is too bright. Yes, too bright. According to an Inc.com article, most workplaces are at about double the lighting level recommended by OSHA. Give workers the option of turning off the overhead lights and using just the lamps they need at or near their desks.
Even if there are plenty of lamps available, there’s still the question of which kind of bulb to use. As with other workspace elements like desks and meeting rooms, the answer comes down to how the space is being used.
Check out this great Lifehack article with three different “lighting makeover” scenarios based on different workers’ situations.
An article published by the University of North Carolina outlines which lighting temperatures and colors work best for different uses.Warmer tones tend to create a sense of comfort, wherease “blue or cooler light should be kept in brainstorming rooms where you want people to feel invigorated and excited to share their ideas.”
There’s a catch to that energizing blue light, though. According to the Inc.com article, when we work past sunset and continue to be bombarded with blue light, it can disrupt sleep cycles.
To solve this problem, look for lighting options with less blue light for use later in the day. Workers might also consider wearing blue light-blocking glasses, especially since computers and other lit screens also give off blue light.
According to the UNC article, conference rooms should have "middle tones that produce a friendly and inviting environment, but also cool enough tones to keep workers alert and motivated.”
Another consideration for conference rooms: Keep in mind what kind of presentations will take place in the space.
The option to dim lighting or block the glare from windows will improve the usefulness of TVs or videoconferencing screens. Adding a function that allows users to report problems – including burned out lights, not-so-temperate temperatures and glare – will let you keep tabs on all meeting spaces and fix problems in real time.
When it comes to productivity and employee happiness, getting the lighting right is important for every business. So whether you focus on making some short-term fixes or plan for longer-term improvements – everybody benefits.