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Why you shouldn’t take “lighting lightly”



When talking about quick ways to immediately impact productivity—and make an office a more comfortable place to work—few things come to mind as influential as a building’s lighting. In fact, according to efficiency expert Andrew Jensen, there’s a full spectrum of problems light issues can cause around an office:


“[Dim lights] can be detrimental to productivity for several reasons. First, dim lighting can cause eye strain and headaches, because, when lighting is inadequate, the eyes are forced to work much harder in order to see. Dim lighting can also result in drowsiness and lack of focus, which would obviously have a negative impact on employee motivation. The second culprit, harsh lighting, is much more common than dim lighting and is just as harmful. Florescent lighting, especially, has a number of negative effects on employees, as it has been known to cause eye strain, and it is also cited as a trigger for migraine headaches.”


With potential for error on both ends of the spectrum—dim and harsh—what’s the best way to go about finding your office’s ideal mix?


We recommend getting direct feedback from tenants, but long-celebreated research has suggested that lensed-indirect lighting may be best:


“The lensed-indirect lighting system was more favourably rated on several subjective lighting impressions scales, and for computer work workers reported fewer screen glare problems, and fewer and less frequent problems with tired eyes and eye focusing. Productivity was less hindered by the lensed-indirect lighting, and satisfaction with office lighting and ratings of lighting quality were significantly higher for this system…Overall, some two-thirds of workers indicated a preference for working under the lensed-indirect lighting system.”


If interested in comparing the effects of lensed-indirect lighting against parabolic lighting in greater detail, Cornell University also did a fantastic job with their 1989 study (photos included). Here, it’s easy to see the difference that correct lighting had on employee issues like “tired eyes” and “eye focusing problems.”


We’ve also seen positive feedback for buildings which blend natural daylight into their routine, as opposed to sticking only with artificial sources. Doing so not only makes an interior feel less claustrophobic, but can also yield sizable energy savings and improve employee morale.


If you haven’t done yet already, maybe it’s time to poll your office on how they’re responding to the available light in your building! We’ll be continuing our discussion throughout the coming weeks!

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