In the past, lighting in office design was not necessarily considered as something that should, or even could be optimized. This is not to suggest that business owners and other decision-makers were indifferent or uninterested when it came to lighting-related choices. Rather, the primary focus was to ensure that there was “enough light to allow people to work.” Indeed, this explains why even today in offices that have notably different design approaches, the lighting is basically the same and rooted in a “if it’s bright enough for people to see and work, then it’s fine and we can focus on other elements” philosophy.
However, in the last few decades, the emergence of ergonomics has (pardon the pun!) shed new light on the role that lighting plays in overall work experience. It is no longer a binary “bright enough/not bright enough” equation (which incidentally was often a subjective call, as the person determining the level of brightness was rarely the one who had to work in the environment for 40-50 hours a week!).
Now, lighting –– even in windowless environments –– is correctly viewed as a fundamentally important part of office design, and one that is as vital and influential as layout, space utilization, furniture, technology, environment controls, and the list goes on. This new — and long overdue — paradigm has also led to some optimal lighting best practices that include the following:
1. Natural light is not just cheaper, but it is better for employees.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine discovered that employees who had more exposure to natural light performed better at work, and reported better sleep quality, greater physical activity, and overall enhanced quality of life.
2. Optimal lighting increases safety.
Many preventable workplace accidents and injuries result from inappropriate lighting, which may include poor distribution of light, excessive heat produced by lighting, and other factors.
3. Poor lighting is not synonymous with low lighting.
Some work environments suffer from poor lighting, but not because light is insufficient. Rather, it is because glare — including that caused by natural light — is impairing comfort, focus and productivity. Or in some cases, the incessant flicker and/or hum of fluorescent lights is a problem. These elements also need to be taken into consideration.
4. Individual/localized lighting control is possible.
Without turning the office environment into a maze of independent “city states,” it is indeed possible to provide individuals – or at least, teams and groups – with the ability to control lighting levels. This can be a major benefit and a welcome change for everyone, and put an end to conflicts between those who find the environment too dim/too bright.
To learn more about the importance of optimal lighting in office design, and to discover more tips, strategies, do’s and don’ts and best practices, contact the Key Interiors team today. Your consultation with us is free.
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