How Lighting Affects Office Productivity

Work team sitting in a conference room

Just as much as furniture, lighting is necessary for the workplace. Improper lighting prevents employees from completing their work efficiently and can lead to eye strain, headaches and depression. Proper lighting benefits employee health, which increases productivity and satisfaction. Various factors work together to create appropriate lighting in the workplace.

By understanding how lighting can affect office productivity and the overall environment of your office space, you can help your team feel more satisfied at the office, allowing them to create more quality work. Continue reading for more information on the optimal lighting for office productivity and how to incorporate the right lighting into your employees’ work areas.

Understanding Variations of Lighting

The temperature of light determines what color or tint it’ll be, and that color or tint places it in different categories, such as warm or cool. The measurement Kelvin (K) is used to measure a light source’s temperature. As an object’s temperature increases, the light’s color changes. It’ll first glow in red, followed by orange, yellowish white, white and bluish white.

Lower color temperatures are warm because they emit colors like red, yellow and orange. Higher color temperatures are cool because they emit cooler colors such as blue, green or purple. The often-referenced color temperature chart shows the temperature ranges of lights and the colors they produce:

  • 2200K-2700K: This is the lowest range and creates a warm glow that’s useful in low-light areas.
  • 3000K-3500K: This range has a soft white light, similar to a halogen light.
  • 4000K-4500K: This range creates a bright white light, which is suitable for lighting an entire room.
  • 5000K and above: This high range produces a bright bluish-white light ideal for commercial locations.

Note that different environments require different shades of light depending on the area and color of the walls or ceiling. These shades vary between warm, mid-tone and cool:

  • Warm: Warm lighting creates a comfortable and relaxing environment and is best for office breakrooms.
  • Mid-tone: Mid-tone lighting is welcoming but still cool enough to promote alertness over relaxation. It’s a good choice for conference or project rooms.
  • Cool: Cool lighting is best for the main work area. It improves mood, productivity and alertness and reduces fatigue while being able to illuminate larger spaces.

There are various types, shades and temperatures of light. While 4000K-4500K is the range to look at for office lighting, you also need to know what kind of lights to buy. Learning the differences between natural and artificial light and LEDs and fluorescents will help.

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Natural Lighting vs. Artificial Lighting

All lighting can affect productivity. Natural light is essential for your health and well-being. It regulates bodily functions and plays a vital role in the function of the endocrine and nervous systems and the release of hormones, such as melatonin. It can decrease headaches and reduce drowsiness and stress. However, more than natural light is needed to light an office.

Even if we wanted to, we can’t extend natural light past sundown, and it frequently isn’t bright enough outside to light an entire office space. You can utilize natural light by placing work areas near windows and keeping blinds and curtains open. From there, you can choose the best artificial lighting for office productivity, including artificial lighting that mimics the temperature of sunlight, which has a temperature range of 5000K-7000K. Artificial lighting with this temperature can increase alertness and stimulate the brain.

Problems with artificial lighting arise when it’s either too dim or too bright. Dim lighting tends to cause eye strain, which leads to headaches and eye issues. Employees may experience drowsiness and lose motivation, which leads to a decrease in work productivity. Lighting that’s too bright will sometimes cause headaches. Aside from lighting that mimics sunlight, the most productive office lighting is relatively bright, white light. This lighting will illuminate the office without causing eye strain, headaches or other problems.

Using a combination of artificial and natural light can help workers see better, reduce the effects of seasonal and other types of depression and increase worker satisfaction and productivity.

LED Lighting vs. Fluorescent Lighting

Lights over office desks

 

The two most popular light bulbs are light-emitting diodes and fluorescents. However, one is often the best choice for a variety of reasons. While fluorescent lights are more cost-effective, LEDs come with many advantages. They’re also more readily available in various color temperatures and spectrums, including visible, ultraviolet and infrared, so they have a variety of uses.

LEDs have the following benefits in comparison to fluorescent bulbs:

  • Long life span: LEDs have a life span of 25,000-35,000 hours, which is two to four times longer than the life span of fluorescents and 25 to 35 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
  • Efficient: LEDs emit less heat, so they help keep offices cooler and reduce electric bills. They’re more efficient than fluorescents — a 16.5-watt LED is equal to a 20-watt fluorescent bulb. LEDs are most efficient when they emit a blue-white color, which is perfect for an office.
  • Durable: LEDs can withstand extreme temperatures, unlike fluorescents.
  • Non-toxic: LEDs don’t contain mercury, which is toxic, but fluorescents do.
  • Dimmable: LEDs can be dimmed or brightened to suit the activity the employee is working on or the time of day.

For offices, LEDs are a better option than fluorescents. Their long life span and efficiency outweigh the initial cost of installation. The added benefit of them being dimmable and featuring different shades of light ensures they’re as customizable as possible. If your office currently features fluorescents, consider replacing them with LED alternatives for the best office productivity lighting.

How Does Lighting Impact Productivity?

Lighting design in offices influences productivity, quality of life and the ability and willingness of employees to return to work the next day. If the lighting is poor and causes eye strain and headaches, employees will become progressively dissatisfied with their work environment. When you use lighting design to your advantage, you can help create the best workspace possible for your team.

Here are some of the negative elements improper lighting can have on your office:

  • Bright lighting: This kind of lighting is problematic for people with photosensitivity. It can trigger migraines and cause eye pain and discomfort.
  • Flickering lights: People can be sensitive to flickering lights, especially those who experience migraines. If you have employees with epilepsy, it’s extremely important to prevent flickering lights in your office.
  • Glare and color contrast: High color contrast and computer glare can cause headaches and result in eye strain.

In comparison, proper lighting is adjustable, cost-effective and better for the eyes, which has positive effects and benefits on workers, such as enhanced mood and better productivity:

  • Adjustable: Installing adjustable lighting that allows you to control lighting levels and positioning is crucial to maintaining a comfortable work environment. Being able to dim the lights helps later in the day by reducing glare and improving mood and reducing the blue light from LEDs helps improve employee sleep patterns.
  • Cost-effective: The installation of better lighting, like LEDs, can be an investment, but the money saved over time outweighs the initial cost. LEDs are more energy efficient, so they decrease electricity costs, and the better lighting they provide increases employee productivity.
  • Enhanced mood: Short periods of increased lighting throughout the day, such as after lunch, is possible with adjustable lights and will improve mood. Happier employees will work more efficiently and be excited to get projects done.
  • Better productivity: As the day progresses, workers become tired and can fall into energy slumps after lunch. Standard lighting increases tiredness, but lower ambient lighting and task lighting with a high color temperature can help them feel better and more productive.
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The Relationship Between Lighting and Color

Work team sitting on bean bags and sofas

Colors elicit psychological, physiological and social reactions. Color is an essential element of interior design that influences the visual perception of light. Depending on the lighting, the shades of colors reflected on surfaces will change. The reflectivity of light on colored surfaces affects its quantity and quality and will produce either a positive or negative psychological effect.

When choosing a color scheme for your workplace, consider what type of work your workers do and for how long and the psychophysiological effects of colors and their shades and saturations:

  • Warm colors: Warm colors like red, yellow and orange stimulate action and increase performance. They’re most suitable for offices where employees mainly work in the evening and at night.
  • Cold colors: Colors like blue and green are cold colors. They’re soothing colors that promote concentration and help maintain a consistent performance. These colors are most suitable for high-temperature work areas, like bakeries.
  • Neutral colors: White, gray and black are neutral colors. They brighten and expand space, elicit feelings of harmony and peace and positively affect mood. They’re suitable for ceilings and mixing with other colors.
  • Bright and dark shades: Bright shades illuminate the workplace and improve lighting conditions, while dark shades lessen the reflectivity of lights.
  • Saturation levels: Rich colors enliven a space, while non-rich colors soothe.

While your office may not be suited for funky red and green lighting, you can experiment with incorporating subtle shades of these colors to achieve your desired effects.

How Lighting Affects the Circadian Cycle

Circadian rhythms determine the circadian cycle. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and are why people sleep at night and stay awake during the day. Biological clocks regulate circadian rhythms, which respond to light.

Circadian rhythms influence:

  • Hormone release, including melatonin
  • Eating habits and digestion
  • Body temperature
  • Sleep patterns

Melatonin makes you sleepy. When there’s less light, like at night, melatonin is released to help you fall asleep. Poor office lighting can also cause melatonin to be released, making workers drowsy. Bright lights and daylight exposure or blue lights will help workers feel energized during the day. Dimming these lights in the late afternoon or evening will align with the circadian cycle and help employees wind down properly when the workday is over.

Positioning Furniture to Optimize Lighting

Artificial lighting can impact workers negatively when exposed to it consistently. Artificial lighting is necessary for the workplace, so removing it isn’t an option. However, re-positioning office furniture to optimize lighting can reduce the adverse effects of this lighting.

The best office setup places employee workstations where they can receive the most natural light, such as next to windows with the blinds open. Using a combination of natural and artificial lighting lessens the amount of artificial lighting required, saving on electricity costs and decreasing the negative effects of too much artificial light.

Available Lighting Options From WB WOOD

Available lighting options

WB WOOD has various lighting options available to help you balance warm lighting with a bright atmosphere that will energize your team and keep them comfortable throughout the day. Our lighting selection includes the following options:

  • Ambient lighting: This lighting envelopes rooms and workspaces in uniform lighting levels. WB WOOD offers many forms of ambient lighting, including ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, track lighting, chandeliers, recessed fixtures, LED downlights and floor lamps.
  • Task lighting: Task lighting supplements overhead lighting as needed and reduces eye strain and computer glare. Many types of task lighting are adjustable, so the direction of the light can be aimed where it’s needed. Task lights can be clamped to the side of the desk, mounted on the wall or sit on a desk or the floor.
  • Accent and decorative lighting: Accent and decorative lighting make certain elements stand out, so they’re suitable for areas of the office you wish to highlight. Accent lighting highlights things like architectural features, sculptures, art and awards. Decorative lighting can create a positive feeling in high-traffic areas of the office or a warm, comfortable atmosphere in less formal areas.

Contact WB WOOD to Design a Functional and Comfortable Office Space

WB WOOD is a furniture service provider that’s committed to helping clients like you create the most productive and enjoyable work areas through the careful arrangement of lighting and furniture. Our highly experienced employees have backgrounds spanning the design, technical and business industries. We provide a full range of procurement, furniture and project management services while working alongside your architects, design firms and consultants, and we can help you find and install the best lighting for productivity.

Contact us today by calling us at 212-647-6200. We look forward to hearing from you and moving forward with your unique project.

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