Discovering the right workplace lighting can be an enlightening experience. Find out how to lighten up your work environment and why it's a bright idea.
You've heard of workplace ergonomics. Proper ergonomics encompass things like desk height, regular movement, and chair positions. But did you know there is also something called workplace lighting ergonomics?
It's not just some snake oil salesperson trying to make a few bucks, either. Institutions like the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Great Britain's Health and Safety Executive, and OSHA in the U.S. all have workplace lighting recommendations and regulations. This may not be a big surprise in some cases, like construction zones, emergency exit lighting, or lighting in warehouses.
What might be surprising, however, is that workplace lighting has an impact on office work, too.
5 Science-Based Lighting Tips:
1. Get rid of fluorescent lighting
We all know fluorescent lighting makes everything look a little strange. But there may be more to it than just annoyance. In a recent study, Helen L. Walls, Ph.D., MPH; Kelvin L. Walls, Ph.D.; and Geza Benke, Ph.D., found that some fluorescent lighting falls outside the safe range for ultraviolet radiations. They state that "fluorescent lighting may increase UV-related eye diseases by up to 12%." They suggest using "incandescent and warm-white lamps instead of cool-white fluorescent lamps."
2. Introduce daylight
In an article published in the American Journal of Public Health Research, B.M.T. Shamsul writes that the color temperatures of a light can impact productivity. Study subjects performed best with either cool white light or artificial daylight. This insinuates that actual daylight is your best option for workplace lighting, but in the absence of that, using light that mimics sunlight can help employees be more productive and alert.
3. Help your employees sleep
While you may not want your team sleeping at their desks, you do want them to get a good night of sleep. An article in Psychology Today notes that your circadian rhythms, your cycles of wakefulness and sleep, are adversely effected by a lack of natural light.
"Abnormal circadian rhythms [are] associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD)." Furthermore, employee health problems equate to more expenses for employers through increased insurance premiums, lost work time, and sick days.
If you are unable to let natural light into your building, consider investing in light boxes that recreate the light spectrum of sunlight.
4. Beat the blues with blue
A study by researchers at the University of Surrey found that switching from white lighting to "blue-enriched white light" helped improve the moods of office workers. It's worth noting, however, that the "blue-enriched" light is attempting to mimic the sun's natural spectrum. But it's also a good idea to turn the blue down as the day goes on. That same blue light that can help improve your mood can also disrupt your sleep, according to the Harvard Medical School.
5. Customize lighting for employees
The best solution, in an ideal situation, would be for every office to have customized lighting. It's not as far-fetched as it may sound, though. In fact, some solutions are free. For instance, f.lux adjusts the color of your computer screen to match the time of day. So if you get to work early, the "warmth" of your screen will gradually change until it matches outdoor lighting when the sun comes up. For those late nights, f.lux changes the lighting of your computer screen to look more like indoor lighting.
You can also encourage personal lighting. Let employees bring lamps in to use at their workstations. Additionally, buying several "uplighting" lamps to place around the office can help distribute light more evenly.
And it never hurts to adjust lighting for specific tasks. Different lights produce different physiological effects. To stay productive, use lights closer to the blue spectrum in work areas. For meeting rooms, the University of North Carolina suggests using warmer lighting "to create a sense of comfort."
Office Temperature and Noise Level:
It's not just lighting the makes a workplace good for productivity. Temperature and noise levels also impact employees' ability to focus and stay on task. If you can, provide quiet rooms or reserve sections of the office for noisy activities like conference calls. Let your team bring earbuds so they can listen to white noise while they work.
As for the best office temperature? Well, that one is always up for debate. But before the discussion devolves into a standstill, there is, believe it or not, a scientifically proven "best" office temperature. Combine the best of workplace lighting, noise reduction, and thermostat setting, and you'll be well on your way to a happy and productive team.
One other way to encourage a productive office environment is by making sure your business insurance is up to date. Get in touch with your Pekin Insurance agent today so you can be on the road to a brilliant workplace.