Illumination, not Illusion
Most of us have pretty basic expectations for lighting at work. We just want the lights to turn on so that it isn’t dark. But what if we’ve set our expectations too low? Studies consistently suggest that lighting impacts both stress and wellbeing. Lights that can improve our lives… sounds like magic.
Research shows that improper lighting can lead to headaches, reduced productivity, fatigue, and workplace accidents. Whereas indirect sunlight can have the opposite effect, reducing eyestrain and headaches, improving alertness, and increasing productivity. Employees who work in offices with natural light also report better sleep than those who work in offices with artificial light.
Not every workplace benefits from natural light, but with proper design, artificial light can also help reduce eyestrain and headaches. OSHA developed standards for minimum lighting requirements in different work environments to protect workers. Depending on the work done and issues with shadows and glare, additional lighting may be necessary to protect workers’ eyes.
Generally, a combination of direct and indirect lighting is used to reduce glare and create a more consistent level of light in the workplace. Overhead lights that project most light downward are an example of direct lighting, while indirect lights distribute nearly all light upwards to soften it and prevent glare.
Many companies are incorporating sunlight into office spaces to take advantage of the savings in energy and the benefits to employees. However, direct sunlight can also create glare, and care needs to be taken to determine the proper way to incorporate sunlight without creating new issues.
What does all of this mean to the average worker? Here are a few pointers.
Et voilà. Illumination might just be magical after all. A few simple adjustments can help to protect your eyes and make you more productive, help you sleep better, and reduce stress.