In the last installment of Empowering, we discussed the impact of lighting on the brain with regards to mood and mental health. This month, we’ll examine how lighting affects productivity, performance, and safety.
The Right Light Improves Productivity and Performance
For many workplaces, providing access to natural daylight is not an option. The good news is, studies have found that working under “blue-enriched” light bulbs that are 17,000K actually increases work performance by supporting mental acuity, vitality and alertness while reducing fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Researchers at the University of Greenwich found in a two-month study that the workers they put under “blue-enriched light bulbs” reported feeling “happier, more alert and had less eye strain.”
Other benefits of blue light include lowering melatonin, which is created in our glands and basically puts us to sleep. This lower level of melatonin keeps people alert in the same way coffee does.
Proper Lighting can Impact Employee Safety
Lighting may seem simple, but if it’s not done right it can lead to problems such as eyestrain, eye irritation, eye dryness, blurred vision and headaches. Plus, poor lighting can create safety issues and reduce productivity because employees may grow uncomfortable or find themselves unable to keep up with the pace of their work because they can’t see very well.
Good lighting, on the other hand, can make employees more comfortable and increase productivity. A space that is well lit without too many shadows or too much glare enables workers to focus on the tasks at hand without needing to squint, use awkward postures, or go in search of additional light sources.
Placement and Direction of Light Impacts Productivity
Architects and builders usually specify lighting during the construction phase of a building. But employers must realize that lighting should always be tailored to the tasks that will be performed in the presence of that light. Lighting may need to change or be supplemented to enable workers to do their jobs.
The workplace usually requires three main types of lighting: general, localized-general, and local/task. General lighting such as ceiling fixtures light up large areas, while localized-general lighting is slightly closer to workstations. These overhead fixtures help illuminate the places where tasks are performed. Local or task lighting gets even closer to people and may include desk lamps and floor lamps which can be adjusted by employees to help them see the materials they’re working with.
In addition to the amount, temperature, and type of lighting, consider the following when choosing fixtures.
- Project light downward for those performing tasks with small parts (direct).
- Distribute light both up and down (direct-indirect fixtures).
- Direct light almost entirely upward to reflect off walls and ceilings (indirect fixtures).
When used together, the temperature, amount of light, type of lighting, and fixtures should be carefully considered for each area where employees or guests will be present to maximize both effectiveness as well as positive impact on well-being. In the next installment of the Empowering blog, we’ll give you specific questions to ask about your workplace lighting and give you tips for fixing it!