Lighting is an annoying part of office life that can hurt your output and very well fatten your paychecks one day. Here’s how to fix it.
It is three o’clock in the afternoon and you can barely keep your eyes open. Your fingers hover over your keyboard as you struggle to capture your last thought. If you’re feeling dreary at work every day, chances are your workplace lighting is killing your productivity.
Remember the classic Tom Hanks movie “Joe vs. the Volcano”? The reason why the main character set out for a life-changing adventure was those blinking fluorescent lights in his office that he felt were just sucking the life force out of him. Creating a positive and productive work environment is definitely more than just a ping-pong table in the break room.
A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design showed that an overwhelming 68 percent of employees have complained one way or another about lighting in their respective offices. If the study worries you, take heart: bad lighting is more than a passing annoyance; it is a daily ergonomics issue.
So to help lighten things up a bit, here are some simple steps to take to help you light your workspace right:
Let the Sun in
This probably won’t come as a shock to you, but natural light trumps all other lights.
For tens of thousands of years, mankind always relied on the Sun for activity and productivity. When the Sun sets, our early African ancestors pretty much called it a day. As such, the human biological clock has evolved to respond accordingly to sunlight. Sunlight helps our bodies maintain our internal “clocks” or circadian rhythms – natural body cycles that help us fall asleep at night time and be active during the day. If there’s anything that can keep you awake without the espresso, it would be none other than the blazing Sun.
If you can, get the best spot by sitting close to windows in your building. Otherwise, if you are searching for an office, make natural light a priority in your new space. If companies can get those wall-to-wall windows installed, they can expect a steep increase in productivity. But it’s unrealistic to assume every office can knock out a few more spots for windows and skylights.
There are still things you can do to take in more natural light:
- Get outdoors as often as possible
- Take lunch breaks or call into meetings outside of the office
- Replace bulbs with those proven to replicate the effect of natural sunlight
Fake It When You Can’t Make It
No daylight at all? Well, if you happen to be in some dark caves, or in an off-world colony somewhere away from the Earth, then a great alternative is to get artificial lighting that corresponds to the color temperature of the daylight.
Science suggests that cool light, which lies at the blue end of the color spectrum, can mimic the effects of natural sunlight and help keep employees alert and productive. Blue’s main effect is to suppress melatonin, the brain chemical that can make us feel sleepy. The only problem is that if you work past sunset and continue to be bombarded with blue light in the hours leading up to bed, you will be up all night because too much of it disrupts sleep cycles.
So with your multiple-setting LED lighting installed, daylight-like blue color should illuminate the room early in the day. Then you may gradually shift it to sunset-like yellow as the day progresses, essentially mimicking the progression of natural sunlight—and we know how great natural sunlight is for worker productivity.
Control also matters.
Giving employees 100% control of the interior lighting around their workspaces could yield an increase in productivity. The amount of light that’s best varies from person to person and from task to task. Someone working with physical documents will have very different lighting needs than someone working with multiple computer screens. Everyone prefers different levels of light, so companies might be wasting an awful lot of lighting for those who don’t want it.
When it comes to creating the perfect light to crack on with your daily desk-bound chores, nothing beats layer lighting. Overhead lighting isn’t the greatest light source, so it’s wise to build on what you have. Use task lighting on your desk rather than relying solely on overhead lighting, as it is the key to bringing everything into focus. It reduces the contrast between the light on the object you are focused on and the surrounding area, leaving no white spots on your desk. Throwing in a little ambient light into the mix too will help soften the harsh light that can come from both overhead and task lighting.
Make Lighting More Flexible
It’s no secret that dim lighting is a one-way ticket to Eye-Strain City. But harsh lighting is just as harmful as dim lighting.
Apparently, most workplaces are at about double the lighting level recommended by OSHA. If you’ve ever hacked shipping boxes to reduce glare from overhead fluorescent lights, you’ll most definitely enjoy an Anglepoise task lamp with adjustable brightness.
A desk lamp that has a flexible arm is ideal since you can adjust the height and angle to suit your task at hand. For desktop or laptop work, position the lamp so the bottom of the lampshade is at about the height of your chin when it’s on. Be sure to angle your lights so that the beam isn’t shining directly into your eyes or reflecting into them off a surface.
When you finally wind down during the last few hours of work, you’ll want to be able to rest as soon as possible. That, and having any source of lighting with variable brightness adjustment will always be a convenient plus.
If natural light isn’t in the cards for you, try tweaking your work environment for better productivity with adjustable LED lighting options. The versatile TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp might just be the brightest idea that you’ll ever go for, as you can adjust it to meet whatever lighting needs you may have.