In the thriving world of office life, it is easy to overlook one of the most subtle yet influential aspects of the office environment — lighting. Indeed, the light bulb contributes far more than helping us make our way without bumping into an office colleague.
Lighting has a significant impact on mood, productivity and health, shaping the office experience in ways that businesses should acknowledge.
Consider exploring the science and artistry of lighting and how it can turn a workspace into a productive one while also incorporating branding brilliance. Learn how to optimize the office through lighting conditions.
Office Lighting and Its Effects on Productivity
Most people are unaware that different types of light have other impacts on our bodies and minds. The cool blue light of the morning sky can energize and enhance focus, while the warm yellow light of the evening sun can soothe and prepare us for rest.
Lighting is more than aesthetics — it’s biology. Light influences our circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep-wake cycles, hormone release and mood swings.
Therefore, office lighting that mimics the changing light throughout the day can maintain our internal clocks, enhance the office environment and improve productivity.
However, it is easy to fall into common lighting traps in the quest to optimize the office. Lighting that is too dim can lead to eye strain, making employees feel tired and less motivated.
On the other hand, lighting that is too bright can be equally harmful. Harsh lighting can lead to discomfort or trigger migraines. Even inappropriate placements of light can cast shadows and cause glares on screens. As a result, this makes it harder for employees to see and focus on their work.
Optimize the Office Through Lighting and Design Tricks
Businesses ready to optimize their office productivity through lighting can utilize these tips and tricks for optimal results.
Choose the Best Type of Lighting
When selecting the best light sources for a workspace, the two main contenders are LED and fluorescent. LEDs are more appealing in this case because they boast energy efficiency, longevity and versatility in brightness levels over their fluorescent counterparts.
Although they may require a larger initial investment, LEDs can substantially reduce energy costs and maintenance in the long run.
However, LED lights are more than about savings — they are also about control. Their ability to dim without losing color quality allows for a customizable workspace that can adapt to the different needs and tasks throughout the day.
Natural light is another source of lighting that takes the crown in optimizing office conditions for productivity.
Exposure to natural light can dramatically reduce issues like eye strain and headaches and regulate sleep patterns for better overall wellness.
In fact, studies show that people who work in conditions with daylight exposure were able to add 46 more minutes of sleep at night than those who did not.
Ensure the workspace has ample exposure to natural light. If windows are not abundant, consider innovative solutions like skylights or light shelves. Arranging desks and workstations near windows can also ensure more employees reap the benefits of natural illumination.
Another factor to consider is the brightness of office lighting — businesses should tailor it to the tasks at hand, with screen work requiring less intense light to prevent glares.
Energy efficiency is another key consideration, with options such as motion-sensor lights and timers offering smart solutions that save energy while ensuring an adequately lit workspace.
Design Office Lighting Through Branding
While office lighting is functional, it is also an opportunity to reflect a company’s brand, create a unique ambiance and promote a productive work environment.
Cultivating the work environment with the right design strategy enhances a brand’s image and incorporates the company’s values. This, in turn, can elevate employee morale and drive productivity, creating a balanced blend of aesthetics and functionality.
One company that has effectively used lighting as part of its brand strategy is The Netcircle, a social media community-building company that manages everything from design to marketing.
Its loft in Shanghai, China, is a testament to the company’s smart utilization of lighting design. Home to 40 of the most satisfied employees, the space is filled with natural light streaming through large windows where workstations reside.
This feature is known for enhancing productivity and the overall mood in the office. Adding to the aesthetic are unique chandeliers that provide character and wall sconces that provide soft, indirect lighting —- further enhancing the workspace ambiance.
Additionally, the incorporation of LED lights in the stairways shows the company’s commitment to energy efficiency and modern design.
Successful brand integration requires a consideration of the brand’s personality and values. For instance, if a brand promotes wellness or environmental consciousness, ample natural light and energy-efficient LEDs can convey this message.
Decorative lighting, like The Netcircle’s chandeliers, can also serve as branding elements while adding visual interest to the workspace.
Use Color Temperature in Office Lighting
Not all lights are created equal. The color and temperature of lighting can highly influence mood, concentration levels and overall productivity. It also affects physical well-being, which makes choosing the right light color and temperature crucial.
Each office area and task may demand a different type of lighting. For instance, cool blue and white lights are excellent for boosting alertness. Therefore, these types of lighting are ideal for brainstorming sessions and complex tasks.
Meanwhile, warmer yellow lights can instill relaxation and creativity, which is perfect for lounge areas or meeting rooms.
Many experts recommend varying lighting color and temperature throughout the day, though. Implementing brighter, cooler lighting in the morning stimulates alertness and focus.
As the day progresses, gradually transitioning to warmer tones can help employees wind down since it mimics the natural cycle of daylight.
As such, this promotes healthier sleep patterns and allows office workers to come into work the next day feeling energized and refreshed.
Therefore, using both types of lighting color, and synchronizing them with natural rhythms, is a smart way to optimize the office and enhance productivity and wellness.
Implement Lighting to Create a Positive Environment
While office lighting can be excellent for visibility and productivity, it also profoundly affects employee wellness.
The right lighting conditions can promote job satisfaction and mental health, reducing fatigue and stress, enhancing mood, and alleviating symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
That is why it is imperative for businesses to implement comfortable lighting. Doing so can create a work environment that helps office workers feel at ease.
Otherwise, poor lighting conditions will lead to tension headaches, tiredness and increased cortisol levels. Conversely, optimal lighting will support an employee’s comfort, which can increase their level of job satisfaction and create an overall positive office environment.
For businesses that aim to optimize the office for motivation and productivity, consider incorporating a mix of lighting combinations. Since natural lighting is a fantastic mood enhancer, companies can greatly boost this by incorporating task lighting.
Task lighting is the type of lighting that is designed to brighten a particular area or task. In an office setting, task lighting provides focused lighting, such as desk lamps, which provide additional light to help workers see the project they are working on in their workspaces.
When utilizing task lighting, strategic placement is crucial to create better moods and energy levels throughout the office.
Other features to consider are dimmers and timers. These are excellent for greater control and adaptability, providing employees with a workspace that supports their well-being and productivity.
Use Innovative Lighting Technologies and Trends
As office lighting continues to evolve, embracing new technologies can drastically improve productivity while saving energy.
Some innovative lighting solutions to consider include human-centric lighting, which adjusts to mimic natural light. OLED lighting is known for its diffused light and flexibility in design. When optimizing the office, paying more attention to these modern solutions will pay off in the long run.
Smart lighting systems are another major trend. These systems adapt to individual needs, adjust according to the time of day, and can integrate with other office systems.
They offer unprecedented control over office lighting, allowing workers to change color, intensity and directionality.
Some systems even use sensors and artificial intelligence to adjust lighting based on the presence or absence of individuals, contributing to energy efficiency.
To leverage these innovative lighting systems for productivity enhancement, consider engaging a lighting consultant who understands the office’s unique needs.
With a well-thought-out lighting plan that uses the latest technology, companies can create a work environment that looks great and maximizes employee productivity.
Incorporate Lighting for Different Office Layouts
Various office layouts require distinct lighting strategies. Open spaces, cubicles and private offices each demand a tailored approach to lighting design.
When incorporating lighting into the office, it is crucial to consider its architectural features and the nature of work that employees conduct in each space.
Combining ambient and task lighting in open spaces helps office workers avoid glare on screens and provide sufficient light for collaboration.
For cubicles, providing individualized task lighting alongside overhead lighting gives employees control over their space. Meanwhile, private office spaces should balance natural and artificial light sources to create a comfortable working environment.
However, different layouts present unique challenges. For instance, it may be challenging to control glare and shadows in open spaces, while cubicles often suffer from inadequate light. In private offices, the challenge is to balance the need for privacy with the benefits of natural light.
Understanding these challenges can allow businesses to make informed decisions, address employees’ needs, and create a pleasant working atmosphere.
Optimize the Office by Illuminating the Path Forward
Office lighting has a strong influence on productivity and well-being. From different light sources and color temperatures to branded design, office illumination incorporates various aspects of enhancing productivity.
Businesses have much to gain from investing time and resources to optimize office lighting. Lights are more than office aesthetics — they have a way of enhancing workers’ moods, promoting better mental health and improving employee morale.
Consider the unique needs of the office and its employees and how to maximize productivity with a substantial amount of lighting. Doing so allows offices to achieve a breakthrough in design and see brighter days ahead.
About the Author!
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.