Office Lighting Levels

Effectively lit and attractive environments enhance your image, help you recruit and retain high-value employees, and increase the total value of your facility.

Lighting in workplaces, offices and industrial spaces has a profound effect on the well-being and productivity of all workers. Dimly lit offices have an impact on employee’s efficiency with low levels of light affecting peoples' alertness and causing health issues such as eyestrain and headaches.

At the other end of the scale, lighting which is too bright can trigger migraines and also causes eyestrain as the eye needs to work harder to focus in bright light.

Getting the balance of light right can have a major impact on a person’s health.

With this in mind, here are 20six's top tips to help you get your office lighting levels spot on.

How To Get Your Office Lighting Right:

Go Au Naturel: The problem with sun light is that it is, well, so bright. Bright light and computer screens don't tend to work well together. If, however, you are an architect or a designer who works more on sheets and paper instead of tech gadgets, then a flood of natural light is a welcome addition. Natural light remains important to our circadian rhythm, so where possible use natural light in a controlled fashion to enhance and compliment the artificial illumination. By aligning desks and workstations in the north or south directions the natural light won't create unwanted shadows or glare on computer screens.

Fluorescent Flickering: Whilst natural light is not always an option, if you have inherited fluorescent strips it's time to consider an upgrade. They may appear cost effective on the surface as the bulbs are long lasting, but fluorescent lighting can result in negative health issues to employees, causing headaches, migraines and eye problems. If your office has fluorescent tubes consider upgrading to LED tubes, which flicker less, and can save money in the long term*.

An Air Of Ambience: Where possible you need to think of your office lighting design in terms of layers. Your main overhead lighting will provide the base, your individual task lighting gives you independent functionality and accent lighting adds an air of ambience. Each layer needs to be at a different level to ensure that one does not interfere with or overwhelm the other.

Lighten Your Finances: By sticking with what you've got and not updating your office lighting systems to more efficient models you could be out of pocket. With an estimated 80% of lighting used in buildings being classed as old technology (by which we mean ‘static’ office lighting controlled by one switch) most offices are stuck with either all on or all off. Illuminating unoccupied spaces is just throwing money out the window and a more efficient way to light the office is to use lighting control systems.

Step Out Of The Light: It's not all about the lighting systems you have. We have already referred to the positioning of work stations and desks, but it is also worth making your office décor as light as your company branding will allow. Dark fittings and fixtures will absorb light and thus make the artificial lighting work harder, costing you more money. A well organised, clean and tidy office says to employees and clients that you are in control of your environment, your tasks, your workload. And it also plays a part in the effectiveness of the office lighting. For example, having your windows regularly cleaned will enhance the free, natural light coming through.

Your office lighting levels are important on the health and well-being of your employees, on the impressions that you make on your clients, and a contributory factor on your electricity bills, which is why it is important that you consider your office lighting in your overall office design plans.

*a large office using 300 fluorescent tubes running for 7 hours a day could save £2,529 a year by converting to LED tubes.


Urban Office Garden Design

City Garden Office Design - The Green Workspace

Living in our temperate climate we are a nation obsessed with the weather. It's finally turned warmer out there and you can witness the difference a bit of sunshine makes on the smiles of those you pass on your way to or from work.

But we are also a nation of workaholics: Those of us who work in offices spend on average nearly five hours a day sitting down without moving and 9.3 hours per day in total at the office. When the weather is kind to us a lot of us who work these long hours miss out on the best parts of the day.

So it was of interest to us to read about the urban office garden design schemes that are becoming "the norm" in New York, including vertical and roof gardens for office workers, and even bee keeping facilities.

And then there is the development of the "Greenhouse in the sky: Europe's biggest urban farm" on the rooftop of the empty 1950s office block that once belonged to a Dutch telecommunications company.

Nearer home, we know that Google's London office has a "secret" rooftop garden where some of the employees grow veggies, and there are plenty of other city based office buildings who are embracing the "green office" within the space that they have.

With reports that the average UK worker spends around one third of their working life feeling stressed, the benefits of making the most of limited space to bring a flash of greenery to a cityscape begin to add up. In addition to improved employee engagement and productivity, urban office gardens help reduce carbon emissions, improve the property's value, and even reduce noise entering the building.

Needless to say, the option of adding an urban garden to your office is limited by the space that you occupy. Nonetheless, if you do have room, up on the roof or a disused backyard, why not consider turning it into a green office extension?

20six have helped a range of businesses develop and furnish their office garden spaces, so if this is something that you would like assistance with then please do get in touch with us.

UPDATE: In the last few days Facebook have released images of their Seattle Office which has a rather splendid urban office garden....

Brighton’s Top 10 Building Designers

We love Brighton, and are proud to be part of such a vibrant, creative city, which is why we are playing our part in supporting this year's Brighton Festival.

And, by coincidence, May marks our birthday - a cause for double celebrations.

Which is why we're dedicating this week's blog post to some of the architects and building designers who have either been born in Brighton, lived here, or helped in providing the city with some of its most iconic buildings.

20six Ltd.'s Top 10 Brighton Designers:

John Nash: Nash was employed from 1815 to develop King George IV's Marine Pavilion in Brighton that was originally designed by Henry Holland. By 1822 Nash had finished work on the building, which could be argued as Brighton's most iconic building - the Royal Pavilion. Amongst Nash's other rather well-known buildings is Buckingham Palace.

Thomas Read Kemp: The clue's in the name to this ‘leading citizen’ of Brighton in that his legacy remains as the name of a famous district in Brighton, Kemp Town, which he conceived and developed in the Regency-style.

Thomas Lainson: Surprisingly less well known than Kemp our second Thomas, Lainson, was born in the Brighton area. He preferred an Italianate design style and is credited with a 13-house terrace on the west side of Norfolk Terrace, on the Brighton/Hove border, and another terrace of 16 houses nearby on Sillwood Road. He was also responsible for the design of the Bristol Road Methodist Church, the then new synagogue in Middle Street, Hove Museum and Art Gallery (as is now) and the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children.

John Constable: Undoubtedly far more well know than Kemp, and not strictly responsible for any building design/construction/architecture, we had to include this famous Romantic painter who lived intermittently in Brighton, to which he referred as "Piccadilly by the Seaside". Keeping the link with famous Brighton designers, he just happened to reside in Sillwood Road....

John Leopold Denman: Born in Brighton, this John was referred to as "the leading church architect of his time in Sussex". Denman was employed by the Kemp Town Brewery in Brighton to be their in-house architect, responsible for designing new pubs and hotels in Sussex and beyond. His legacy includes properties in Rochester Gardens, Montefiore Road, Colbourne Road and New Church Road Hove. As Brighton evolved into a major commercial centre, Denman was commissioned to design several new commercial premises - had we been around in the 1930s who knows - perhaps we could have assisted in the fit out of his designs.

Charles Augustin Busby: Busby’s greatest architectural achievement was in the development of 300+ acres to the West of Brighton, much within the parish of Hove, as a Regency new town. Today you will know this part of Brighton as the Brunswick area. He was also approached by Thomas Kemp, and in 1823 Busby undertook design of the Kemp Town scheme on Kemp’s behalf.

Frederick Charles Eden: Another of our architects and designers who was born in Brighton, Eden's forte was in designing church fittings and stained glass. We have managed to track down credits to his work in churches in Burgess Hill, Henfield, Ringmer and Uckfield.

Nicholas Grimshaw: A prominent English architect, Grimshaw was born in Hove, and is particularly noted for his designs for Waterloo International railway station, the Eden Project in Cornwall, and designing Britain's pavilion for the Seville Expo in 1992.

David Mocatt: Sticking with train stations, Mocatta was appointed architect of the London and Brighton Railway in 1839, and designed the company's headquarters at Brighton railway station. Whilst the façade is now hidden by the later, 1880's, porte-cochere, Mocatt's legacy remains one of the first pieces of architecture visitors see upon arrival in Brighton.

KSS Group: OK, so we've moved away from individual Brightonian designers, and the KSS Group aren't even based, nor do they reside in Brighton. But we couldn't leave out reference to one of Brighton and Hove's newest buildings, one that has courted more controversy than most - KSS are the architects responsible for the design of The Amex Stadium, the new home of our local football team, Brighton and Hove Albion.

We are very lucky to have such a wealth of talent in this city, and the legacy of so many inspirational characters' lives on in the buildings that they gave us. We hope that you enjoy this year's Brighton Festival, and we are looking forward to many more successful years working in this great city.

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Optimising Your Office Space

Unless you have access to some serious cash, you are probably constrained by physical barriers and existing building specs when designing your office layout. It is unlikely that you will have control over the exterior of the office building and probable that you have restrictions internally.

Nonetheless, there are ways in which you can optimise the space that you do have to gain maximum productivity from your employees.

Optimising Your Office Space

Ask not what your staff can do for you, ask what you can do for your staff:

Before you move in or begin to make any existing alterations it's a wise boss who sits down and speaks to those using the office on a regular basis. What works for them and what doesn't? Are there any obvious improvements to the layout of the office that would suit their requirements better? This is not an exercise in "who gets the best office" but a way to understand what your employees need to get the job done in the most efficient way.

Planning for success will make you even more creative:

Tempting as it is to set your office up in a hierarchical order working from top manager in top office down you need to plan the layout of office and department locations with productivity in mind. Having listened to what all of your staff need you will be in a position to draw up your plans. Ensure that you place individuals and teams that need to frequently communicate with one another close together thereby assisting your employees more easily to get their work done.

Alone we are smart; together we are brilliant:

The wealth of experience and knowledge amongst your employees should not be underestimated, and bringing people together will enable you to harvest this talent. But we're not just talking about the odd conference or boardroom here. To encourage your work force to collaborate and communicate in the office,  set aside areas where employees can meet comfortably with desks, power outlets and anything else they may have mentioned (see point 1) to complete tasks as a team.

Education is the movement from darkness to light:

In last week's blog we touched on how important it is to get the lighting right in your reception area. This carries through to the rest of the office space. Spaces with brighter and where possible natural light have been shown to improve morale and overall employee satisfaction. Use any windows to the fullest by positioning furnishings away from them to let in the most amount of light possible, but if natural light is not a possibility use lighting that will emulate natural light.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but foresight is better.

You cannot neglect Health & Safety regulations. Consultation with your H&S staff member and double checking online will enable you to comply with UK laws. Are all your cables stored safely, even under desks? Is all of your electrical equipment PAT tested? Who is responsible for the over flowing bins? The least inspiring aspect of office design is no less important and has to be covered off.

Optimisation of the space that you have will help you achieve the maximum from your work force. If you would like help in planning your perfect office space then please do get in touch with us as it's something we know a lot about.