How office lighting can affect your staff

By Harriet Morphew

Improving a workspace is a brilliant way to make the working lives of your employers easier and more productive. And while the lighting of an office or workspace might seem like a small detail, it can actually have a huge impact on areas such as performance, efficiency, morale and even the health of staff.

Lighting has an effect on ergonomics – the last thing you want is employee straining to see what they are doing, or having to waste valuable time finding workarounds because of unsuitable lighting conditions.

Here we take a look at how office lighting affects your staff and what you can do to improve the lighting situation in your workplace.

Natural light vs. artificial light

The first thing to note is that it is widely agreed that natural light is superior to artificial light when it comes to productivity. People working in natural light typically sleep better, get more vitamin D and are even at a lower risk of seasonal depression.

Of course, in many workplaces it is not possible to use natural light exclusively – and even if you wanted to, your workplace will naturally be limited by its number of windows and their position. In the case of limited windows, it can be a great idea to utilise mirrors to help bounce the light around the space.

Light intensity

Artificial light is, however, a necessity in the vast majority of offices and workplaces, so it important to understand how to make the best use of it. Interestingly, there is some debate over the intensity of light, and how it should be used. Brighter lights have been shown to make workers more alert and can benefit concentration.

On the other hand, dimming the light has the effect of increasing creativity. Additionally, some workers have sensitive eyes, or can find working in very bright conditions is actually detrimental to their ability to work effectively.

Limit glare

One major lighting problem in many workplaces relates to glare. As we have established, bright lights can be effective in terms of productivity. But they can also shine against screens and other materials to the point where it actually makes it impossible to work.

This is why careful thought and consideration needs to go into the placement of bright lights – and ensuring that these bright lights do not have to be in operation at all times.

Giving staff choice

We come to a very important point then – it is best to understand the needs of your staff. Even better is if you can give your staff choice over their lighting. The choice between lights on and off isn’t much of a competition, but if lights can be installed that have the ability to be dimmed, it can be hugely beneficial to your staff.

If this cannot be managed or isn’t practical in your space, it could be more beneficial to use a range of lighting options including individual desk lights that can provide brighter lighting as needed by a specific member of staff.

Blue light vs. yellow light

Some studies have shown that, in the workplace, using blue-white light as opposed to yellow-white light is an effective way to improve productivity. The reason for this is actually quite scientific, and has to do with the way that human eyes perceive light.

Photoreceptors in the eyes not only allow us to see, they also impact what is known as our circadian rhythm. This is the signifier to our biological clock that tells us whether it is time to be awake or time to be asleep. Blue-white light is interpreted by the receptors as a time to wake and be alert. So, using this kind of light at work reduces sleepiness and helps staff to concentrate.

Working with professionals

Ultimately, there are many factors that need to be considered when you are considering how to best light your office. Every building is different and the work that your team is carrying out can have different lighting needs, so it is not always possible apply a one-size-fits-all solution to lighting that will suit your staff.

If you want to ensure that the lighting in your work environment is optimal for your staff it is a great idea to work with experienced building services professionals. The team at BSE 3D has extensive expertise in the design, specification and coordination lighting for buildings, and we would be happy to help you get more from yours. 

Contact us today for more details.


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