Several studies have shown that lighting can have a big impact on productivity, but it can affect you in other positive and negative ways as well.
The type of lighting you are exposed to can make a big difference, and since most of us spend a large portion of the day at work, it’s important that we choose our office lighting carefully.
We take a closer look at how good and bad lighting affects our work and health, as well as offering some useful tips on how to achieve good lighting in the office.
Effects of Substandard Office Lighting
A study by the American Society of Interior Design found that a worrying 68% of workers complain about the lighting in their offices.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety found that common lighting problems include:
- Insufficient light for the worker’s need
- Too much light (glare) for the need
- Improper contrast
- Poor distribution of light
Poor lighting can negatively affect employees in many different ways; it can be a safety hazard, affect quality of work and productivity levels, and can be a health hazard, leading to eye discomfort, eye strain, and headaches. Bad lighting can also result in shoulder, back, and neck pain, as people have to strain their bodies or crouch down into unnatural positions in order to see things clearly.
Research has shown that clear, bright lights elevate a person’s mood, helping them attain a sense of energy and motivation throughout the day and giving them more positive thoughts. Conversely, fluorescent lights tend to make employees feel more sluggish or tired, as they don’t offer as much neurological stimulation.
Dim lighting can also cause depression, as evidenced by a paper published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). In the article, they detail how “inadequate lighting can contribute to the poor response to treatment of and exacerbation of psychiatric conditions, including mood disorders,” while bright lights have potent therapeutic and biological effects.
Benefits of Proper Office Lighting
Adequate lightning makes people more efficient and decreases errors by up to 60% according to research.
Proper office lighting also increases productivity, as daylight helps our circadian rhythm to be in sync with local environments, yet artificial lighting can block or confuse these rhythms.
The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study, which found that office workers that had more exposure to natural light reported a better quality of life, more physical activity, and better sleep quality compared to workers in windowless environments. Employees exposed to natural light are more likely to maintain a positive mindset and be healthier.
In a nutshell, proper office lighting promotes the following:
- Improved accuracy and concentration at work
- Reduced risk of health problems and occupational accidents
- Enhanced productivity due to increased visibility and improved accuracy
- Cleaner, brighter workspace resulting in a more cheerful and active environment
Achieving Good Office Lighting
Knowing how crucial good office lighting can be, it’s essential that you maximize your workspace and take advantage of natural light. You can do so by moving your desk next to a window if possible, and be sure to fit window blinds, so you can control the amount of light, blocking out any annoying glare or taking full advantage of the midday sun. Another tip is to regularly maintain and clean existing lights, ensuring they’re working at their best, and nothing is blocking them.
While the best alternative to harsh or dim lighting is natural light itself, it’s not always possible to get this in an office environment. Therefore, another way to reap the benefits is LED lighting, which you can achieve by using a daylight desk lamp. As with natural lighting, LED lighting increases creativity levels and performance in the workplace, along with aiding a more positive mood.
Pinpointing the best lighting for your workspace may be difficult, not only because we all have different preferences, but also because it will depend on the type of work we do. Certain work will require brighter light, while others may be more comfortable in a more dimly lit environment.
However, as one study found, even just having personal control over the lighting in your workspace can make a difference to your happiness levels. It may be worth looking into setting up lighting options that can be tailored by the individual worker, such as using desk lamps with different settings that can be altered throughout the day.