Poor lighting is often cited as one of the most common interior design mistakes. While poor lighting is sure to be stressful and annoying no matter what room you may be in, it is especially problematic in a home office or in any business setting; in fact, bad lighting is one of the most popular complaints from employees around the globe.
It’s easy to understand why employees are less than thrilled to be in a working environment that is either too bright or too dim. Improper lighting in workplaces can negatively affect worker productivity and the quality of the work produced. It can also be a safety and health hazard. Too little light can make it difficult to see, making it much more likely for accidents and injuries to occur. Headaches, fatigue and eye strain, like watery or burning eyes, may also be caused from too much or too little lighting.
In order to avoid discomfort and low productivity, employers everywhere need to ensure that their offices and other employee workplaces have the proper lighting.
Types of Lighting
First thing first; it’s important to understand that there are different types of lighting. Each type has its own specific purpose and its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Windows are prized possessions in any office building. They tend to be rare, typically reserved for executives with corner offices. Windows go beyond adding a view—they also happen to be a source of natural lighting. Natural lighting is definitely a superior option to any other form of electric lighting, as several research studies conducted, including a study conducted in Britain and published in “The Responsible Workplace”, have shown that exposure to natural light not only increases worker’s satisfaction with their workplace, but also increases productivity. Natural light also affects our mood and behavior in a positive way that artificial light does not. Unfortunately, depending on your workspace, natural lighting is not always going to be a viable option. Take advantage of it when you can and set up your office furniture accordingly.
Task lamps are often adjustable. Finding one that offers at least three different settings may be extremely helpful, as it could help you to better avoid eye strain. Task lamps are place directly where they are needed, often on desks or some kind of side table, giving you a nice amount of light for detailed projects.
This type of lighting isn’t the brightest and can cause shadows or just be quite dim. It’s usually best to add other types of lighting and not only rely on an overhead light. For those working in an office with fluorescent overhead lights, adding either corrective or ambient lighting may help to reduce any discomfort you experience working with fluorescent lighting. As far as overhead lights go, most are you will want to opt for lensed indirect lighting as opposed to direct parabolic lighting.
Stressed out while you work? It might have less to do with your workload and more to do with your surroundings. Ambient lighting is low intensity lighting that can help you create a more peaceful and less stressful atmosphere.
Working with a computer day in and day out for hours at a time can cause eye strain and even migraines. Placing corrective lighting behind your computer monitor can help immensely. The corrective lighting helps to diminish the glare coming from the screen.
You can combine these various types of lighting to create a properly lit working atmosphere.
How to Properly Light Your Office
- Look out for glare, as it can be extremely hard on any worker’s eyes. There are two types of glare; reflected glare and direct glare. Some common sources of reflected glare include extra glossy furniture and computer monitors. On the other hand, direct glare is caused by light fixtures being in the wrong place or from direct sunlight. In order to correct direct glare, try moving the light fixtures so that the light reflected by them is reflected away from you and not towards you. Adding other lighting can help with either type of glare by increasing the brightness of the area around whatever is causing the glare. Corrective lighting is great for correcting the glare caused by computer monitors.
- Make sure to note where light is poorly distributed. You will want to have an office or workspace that is uniformly lit. This is where the various types of lighting come into play, as each can help to fill a room in a totally balanced way, making for a much happier employee.
- Consider wall paint choices: You should definitely consider how the wall color of your office or workspace affects the lighting. Super bright or glossy wall paint can definitely cause glare so you may want to avoid choices that fall under those categories.
How to Find Out if Your Offices Need Better Lighting
One of the best ways to find out if your office is indeed suffering from poor lighting is to ask your employees if they suffer from some of the very common and negative effects associated with improper lighting. Do they suffer from eye strain? Do they find themselves squinting throughout the day in order to see things more clearly? Do they often have headaches while at their desk or looking at their computer screens?
Another, more systematic way to determine where your office is lacking proper lighting is to perform various ergonomic tests at the workplace. It is possible to measure the average illumination throughout your workplace. Do this and compare your findings with what is recommended for optimal productivity and safety. You can also use this as a guide.
Ensuring that your office, whether at home or at a corporate office, has proper lighting will most likely be a bit costly, but will be an investment that is well worth the expense.