Humans have been subject to natural light for millions of years, so in a way, our brains are like blue-sky detectors which give us information about the time of day. This is linked to our inbuilt wake and sleep patterns which have an impact on our health and well-being. In natural habitats, the system works fine. We are however spending a large amount of time these days indoors, in fact, recent research by Ribble Cycles surveyed that the average person spends 92% of their time indoors on a weekly basis. During the large portion of time, we spend indoors, we will inevitably be subject to artificial lighting, and so our brains will need some help in adjusting in order to retain a natural balance. It’s important to introduce and mimic the natural rhythms of light inside, as the right kind of light, timed correctly, promotes our natural cycle. There are many benefits and factors that come in to play when considering new or improved lighting schemes or improvements:
Before wondering if your office has the right lighting scheme you may want to make sure you are making the most of the available daylight. Daylight helps with our own inbuilt body clocks naturally telling us when to wake and sleep, so try and work out if you can utilise your windows better or maybe install a skylight? A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that workers with more natural light exposure had better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life. Compared to colleagues without windows, they are more likely to be healthier and maintain a positive mindset. If your office doesn’t have access to daylight or windows then it may be worth considering light boxes which replicate natural light at different times of the day.
Productivity can be improved with lighting
Light allows us to perceive the world around us so it’s not difficult to see why ignoring lighting strategies in your working environment can have a significant negative impact on productivity. Bright or dull lighting can have a damaging effect as some workers may be sensitive poor lighting schemes and develop eye strain and headaches as a result. Scientific results have concluded that there is a type of light that boosts our productivity, and that is cool light. Bulb temperatures are measured in Kelvin, with 3000 and under being warm and 3000 to 4000 is described as ‘cool white’. Productivity and reports of people feeling happier and more alert have been reported when the light is super cool, with some bulbs rated up to as high as 17,000 Kelvin.
Light for people, not for work
We are all different so and it would be fair to assume that we all have varying sensitivities to artificial light at our place of work. General lighting schemes may not suit everybody in the office and some workers may prefer the option of having control over the light that they are subjected to throughout the day. Overhead lighting can create glare, especially when looking at a computer. This can, in turn, cause eyes to become tired and dry. A desk lamp can help cut down on glare and reduce eye strain when reading at lower light levels. It’s important that the lamp is placed properly so it’s not shining in to the eyes. Desk lamps or floor lamps can also personalise workspaces and make workers feel more at home and in control of their immediate working environment. This type of personalisation and creative input and control helps with wellbeing levels and in turn, increases productivity.
We often ignore lighting strategies as its sometimes seen as an afterthought in any building project, the lighting scheme and design may often be sacrificed due to costs. In the long run however it would be sensible to consider in the early stages of the build as lighting has so many positive effects on productivity and wellbeing of the company.