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The impact of effective lighting in the workplace

Sarah Mead, Editor

14/03/2018

In today's performance-driven society, employee productivity is the key to success for many businesses. From the chairs and desks they sit on, to the facilities and office buildings they work in, it is becoming increasingly important to consider the working environment. However, one crucial element of building and office design that can greatly impact employee productivity is often forgotten about: office lighting.

Below are three ways office lighting can boost productivity, cut expenses and reduce energy consumption in the long run:

Making the most of natural light

There has been a wave of reports exploring the importance of natural light. Many of these studies have named natural light as the most wanted feature in the workplace by employees. The studies cite better sleep, concentration, creativity and learning – all of which are crucial for workplace productivity.

The key to making the most of the combination of natural light and artificial lighting is getting the right kind of light at the right time of the day. One way to mimic the outdoor experience is to mirror the colour of the light outside and the changes throughout the day. Relevant lighting control technologies automate changes to “colour temperature” inside the building with no additional effort from facilities managers. This means cooler, bright light in the mornings for a strong start to the day, and softer, yellow light in the afternoon to help staff wind down and prepare them for a restful evening.  

Avoiding glare

While it is advisable to get as much natural light in an office as possible, there can be too much of a good thing - especially if it involves glare! Glare occurs when the sun is in the field is not sufficiently controlled, or when reflected or transmitted sunlight is too intense.  This can cause people to leave the area to avoid discomfort or strain their eyes and squint, resulting in headaches and a noticeable drop in productivity. In fact, studies have shown that glare alone decreases performance by up to 21 per cent.

Luckily, there are several ways to deal with glare. The two best options for improving office environments are installing blinds designed for both glare control and solar heat rejection. The ideal shade is capable of reflecting sunlight and strong UV rays, while still allowing people to look outside and letting softer light in. By using motorised blinds instead of fixed window systems, such as tinting or fixed louvers, employees can harvest daylight, to choose how much light they want to let in and eliminate the possibility of glare.

Automated lighting systems

While shading and lighting control systems are a step in the right direction, it is ultimately impossible for any employee or office manager to manually obtain optimal lighting throughout the day. Daylight intensity changes by the minute (based on cloud cover and sun position), by the day (based on weather patterns), and by the season (based on climate and sun position).  The only way to maintain optimal lighting inside an office is by using automated lighting systems. These regulate the environment and achieve the right balance between daylight and electric light, based on the time of the day and overall lighting requirements.

Not only does taking the process of moving blinds out of employees’ hands create a more efficient workplace environment, it also frees up their time to focus on their actual jobs. On top of boosting productivity, lighting systems come with the added benefit of saving huge amounts on energy bills.

By David Ribbons, Director of Sales, Europe & Africa at Lutron Electronics.

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