How to optimize office lighting for increased productivity Tips, Online Commercial Property Advice

How to Optimize Office Lighting for Increased Productivity

8 Mar 2021

Lighting is a frequently-neglected aspect of office design. And even if attention is paid to the position, direction, and style of lighting elements, the focus is often on aesthetics, rather than the benefit of those who work in the office.

The results are clear. A study by the American Society of Interior Design showed that 68% of employees are discontent with the lighting in their offices. Consequently, they find themselves struggling with focus, creativity, and productivity.

To avoid this, there are several ways you can improve the lighting in your office, and help turn it into a hub of collaboration, innovation, and productivity.

How to Optimize Office Lighting for Increased Productivity

How to optimize office lighting – Prioritize Natural Light

To start with, prioritize natural light whenever and wherever you can.

A recent study by Cornell University underlined what has long been known: Natural light is best for productivity. The researchers found that team members in offices flooded by daylight experienced 84% less eye strain, headaches, and other productivity-impairing issues.

There are several steps you can take to maximize natural light in your offices. You could start by re-thinking your floor plan and repositioning desks to be as close to windows as possible. In addition, you could remove obstacles like free-standing shelves and cubicle walls, replacing them with glass partitioning to optimize the flow of light.

Pay Attention to Colour Temperature

A second strategy is to pay close attention to the kinds of light bulbs you use, specifically to their colour temperature.

‘Warm’ lights, in the range of 2200-2700K, for instance, are commonly used in coffee shops and restaurants because they foster relaxation. ‘Cool’ colours, on the other hand, are typical for clinical, highly professional settings, and range up to 10000K.

For offices, choose temperatures that correspond closely to the natural light spectrum, at 5000-7000K. However, you can use ‘warmer’ lights for spaces dedicated to socializing and relaxation, such as break rooms and the office kitchen.

Ideally, opt for tunable lights.  These allow you to change the colour temperature throughout the day. In the morning, light should be brighter and cooler, to help employees stay alert and concentrate. Towards the end of the work day, the lighting can then become warmer, helping employees wind down.

Avoid Glare: Focus on Indirect Lighting

Next, carefully consider which types of lighting fixtures to install to minimize glare. Glare can affect your team directly, but also when bright light is reflected by screens and windows. This is an issue mostly with classic ceiling or hanging lights.

Standard ceiling lighting also creates a cave effect, as the walls and ceiling are always darker than the desks and floors. The resulting atmosphere is not conducive to productivity.

Instead, consider indirect light fixtures. These systems bounce light off the ceiling, which gives a softer, more diffused effect. It reduces the eye strain caused by glare and stark shadows and makes your office space appear more airy and spacious.

How to optimize office lighting – Balance brightness

Finally, optimize your office lighting by balancing the brightness of your fixtures.

Bright lights are energizing – especially fluorescent lights, which also emit blue light frequencies. The downside, however, is that they can disrupt team members’ circadian rhythms if left on all day.

To counteract this, opt for lighting fixtures with adaptable brightness. Either install dimmable lights, or a multi-component lighting system that can be partially switched off towards the end of the work day. By reducing brightness, you allow workers to transition smoothly into a restful after-work phase.

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