Category Archives: Office Lighting

Office Design and Workplace Wellbeing

If you were to conduct a survey of employees asking what their number one most desired office perk would be, what would you expect from the results? Flexi-time? A free canteen? Onsite child care? A games area with pool tables, hammocks and a bar? These may all appear on a wish list but they aren’t the number one most desired office characteristic.

A recent survey carried out by an HR advisory firm, Future Workplace, of 1,614 office based employees asked a similar question: what is the most important attribute of your ideal workplace environment?

And the answer? Natural light.

The negative responses provide the insight as to why natural light is held is such high esteem: 47% of employees reported that they feel tired or very tired with the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% said they feel gloomy when there is a lack of light. With over a third of employees identifying they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace, the study concluded that the absence of natural light and outdoor views is detrimental to the employee experience.

Dr Victoria Revell from the University of Surrey provides some clinical insight into why natural light is so important:

“Light is critical for our health and wellbeing. Ensuring that we receive adequate light levels at the appropriate time of day benefits our alertness, mood, productivity, sleep patterns and many aspects of our physiology.”

Artificial light is no replacement; sunlight is between 50,000 and 100,000 lux (the measurement unit of light), compared to a normal light bulb which is 250 to 500 lux. A lack of natural daylight can impact on our ability to sleep well, think clearly, our hormones and the regulation of our blood pressure and glucose levels.

When we take all of this into account it makes complete sense why so many workers would like more access to this basic human need. During the summer months we may still get enough sunlight in the mornings and evenings, but during the winter we can leave home and return from work in the dark. Couple this with the amount of daytime hours people spend in the work place and you can see why it is vital that your office design or refurbishment puts natural light at the forefront of employee health and well-being.

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.