How Better Office Lighting Can Help You Create a Brighter Future
The daylight hours will soon be getting shorter, as we’re past the summer solstice. And the changes in daylight hours can influence the way we live our lives. With shorter daylight hours it appears as if we have fewer hours in the day, and therefore we need to make an extra effort to get as much done in a day as in the peak of the summer.
But there are many other ways that lighting – both sunlight and artificial light – impacts on our lives and the way we work. Lighting affects us on a biological level, regulating how our bodies function. It also makes a difference to how focused we are, how we relate to other people, and what kinds of thoughts and ideas occupy our minds.
Of course we cannot tell the sun when to shine. But we have many opportunities to create an appropriately lit environment to work in which supports both our wellbeing and work performance.
Here are 7 things you need to know about lighting your workspace the right way:
1. NATURAL LIGHT
Access to natural light is essential for our health and wellbeing – it reduces stress and helps us feel happier. On the other hand, having no access to natural light can lead to depression, among other issues. Natural light also supports optimal mental functioning – it helps us learn faster, concentrate better and think more creatively. So if possible, your workspace should have good-sized windows to the outdoors, or at least skylights.
One of the potential downsides of allowing natural light to enter the workspace is glare. Glare is when you experience eyestrain and have difficulties seeing because of having too much contrast within your field of vision. Glare is very uncomfortable and distracting, making it difficult for us to concentrate. While closing the blinds can help with glare, this also cuts out the sunlight.
As a better solution, you may be able to reduce glare by simply repositioning your work desk and lighting up the dark areas in your office space. If you still need to use blinds, use the type where you can adjust the angle of the blades, so that you can block out direct sunlight while allowing diffuse light in.
3. LIGHTING LEVELS
It’s always important to see what you are doing well without straining your eyes. Keep in mind that different tasks require different lighting levels. For example, you probably need brighter lighting for reading from paper or for making hand notes than for working on a computer. Therefore, it’s important that you can adjust the level of lighting in your workspace, in accordance with the task you’re working on.
You can either install dimmable lighting to achieve that, or use a combination of several different lighting types, such as task lights, downlights, wall wash lights and up lights – which you can mix and match as you please.
4. SETTING THE MOOD
Different lighting levels support different moods and mental states. For example, bright lighting helps us feel more energised. Interestingly, in bright spaces we also tend to be more restrained and disciplined. Therefore, high lighting levels can be great for tasks that require analytical thinking, including administrative tasks.
Dim lighting, on the other hand, can help us relax and engage in personal conversations with others. In dim light we also tend to think more creatively, and may also take more risks. So before you immerse yourself in a task, remember to light up your space in a way that that puts you in the right mental space.
5. LIGHTING COLOURS
The colour of the light in a room – whether warm, cool or neutral – also affects our psychology. Cool light has a bluish tint, resembling the morning sun. Cool light keeps us alert and helps with concentration. However, it can make a space feel sterile, and also elevate stress levels.
On the other hand, warm light has a yellowish tint, resembling the afternoon sun. Warm light is calming and relaxing, and it helps create a friendly atmosphere. Interestingly, in warm light we tend to be better at solving problems than in cool light. However, warm light may make the space feel a bit dull. To make the best of both worlds, it’s recommended that you choose lamps with neutral light.
6. CIRCADIAN LIGHTING
If you have room in your budget, you may want to consider installing circadian lighting – a lighting system which imitates natural light by gradually changing the colour of the lighting throughout the day – in your workspace. This type of lighting can keep your circadian rhythm in balance, and subsequently help you sleep better at night. (Remember, our forebears woke up at sunrise and went to sleep when the sun set. As a result, our bodies have evolved to harmonise their function with the movement of the sun.)
7. WALLS AND CEILING
It’s important that not only the desk you work at is lit up but also the whole space around you, including the walls and the ceiling. What’s the purpose of this? Our ancestors spent tens of thousands of years in the outdoors, and this has shaped how our brains respond to lighting today. Even though we now spend most of our time indoors, our unconscious still believes that we are in nature.
When the ceiling and the walls around us are dark, our unconscious draws the conclusion that it’s night-time, time to go to sleep – and so we start to feel a bit drowsy. However, if the space around us is brightly lit, our unconscious registers that it’s daytime, and so we stay more alert.
In a properly lit work environment you’ll find it easier to get into flow and unleash your brilliance. For this reason, lighting up your workspace the right way might be a crucial step towards creating a brighter future for your business.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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