The correct lighting in an office is crucial and should be one of the very first things to take into consideration when designing your workplace. Not only can the right office lighting support employee health and productivity, it can also save money both in electrical costs and workforce presenteeism.
Lighting is important for everyday working life and may need to be adjusted according to the task or the individual eyesight of employees. While some types of artificial lighting can be beneficial, many offices use artificial lighting that is either too harsh or too dim.
Inadequate office lighting can lead to the following health problems:
Headaches and migraines
Harsh overhead lighting can lead to employees repeatedly suffering from headaches or migraines. An employee that suffers from migraines may often be absent from work.
We all have an internal clock that our bodies respond to during the day. Our bodies are attuned to natural outdoor light. Studies show that people that don’t have a window or a source of natural light during their day have more issues with poor sleep.
The use of computers and viewing a screen all day alone can cause eye strain. However, if the background lighting is too bright or you are sitting too close or too far from the screen, these factors will further increase the strain on your eyes.
Drowsiness and fatigue
All of the above issues can lead to drowsiness and fatigue. Not only does natural light in the office help our eyesight but it also promotes energy levels, wellbeing and productivity.
A mix of lighting options can achieve ergonomic success
Using different types of lighting options in an office allows employees to work in a pleasant environment. If task lights are installed at each workstation, employees can decide whether they prefer dimmer or brighter lighting depending on the project they are working on.
Not all offices require the same lighting. Open office environments with lots of windows will need a different type of lighting system than an office that doesn’t have any natural light. Plus, understanding what certain rooms are designed for will help in selecting the correct lighting.
The available light in an environment is known as ambient lighting. It should provide a comfortable level of brightness without glare. Its goal is to diffuse light equally throughout the space.
Accent lighting is used to draw your attention to a specific area or object. For example, your accent lighting could be a spotlight directed to an object that you wish to draw people’s attention to in a presentation.
Task lighting in an office is essentially a desk lamp, you would use this for specific tasks such as reading or writing. Task lights are generally used during the winter months when there is very little natural light.
Here are some useful lighting tips
- Workplaces should have sufficient windows to let in natural light
- Align screen at right angles to windows to avoid glare
- Regularly maintain lighting systems
- Use matt surfaces to avoid light reflection
- Replace flickering lamps
- Adjust lighting to your work task
Illuminance (unit of measurement: lux (lx)) indicates how much light (unit of measurement: lumen (lm)) falls on a particular surface.
The illuminance at the workplace should be at least 500 lx, although this does not have to be the case for the entire office. In the surrounding area, 300 lx is sufficient if workplace-related lighting of at least 500 lx is maintained.
The luminance (unit of measurement: candela (cd) / area unit m2) is used to define the brightness of a surface or object seen by the eye. In the workplace, this means that greater lighting contrasts should be avoided. For example, screens should not be positioned in front of the window.
Light colour is determined by the colour temperature (unit of measurement: Kelvin (K)). A colour temperature of 4000 K or more is recommended for office lighting. The colour temperatures are classified as follows:
Warm white: < 3300 K
Neutral white: 3300 – 5300 K
Daylight white: > 5300 K
Guidelines for illuminance
Workplace or activity
Minimum illuminance value
Hospitality or conference areas
Writing, reading, data processing
For more information or to arrange for an Ergo Squad representative to evaluate your workspace to help your business achieve its potential, please get in touch using the form below.