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Best Practices for Lighting the Office

I often cringe when I walk into my office and turn on the lights. The fluorescent bulbs make work in a small space seem that much more like work. My alternative has earned my workspace the title “the bat cave,” because I firmly and proudly hold onto as much natural light as I can. I even refuse to flip the switch at the balking of my co-workers.

However, I know that even the dim lighting isn’t the greatest for my productivity (naptime, anyone?), so I have ventured to do a little research on how to help situations like this. Here are my best practices for lighting the office:


Make the Lighting Personal


We all require and prefer various levels of lighting. For some, the increased stimulation that comes with lots of bright light can be very beneficial. For others, it can be debilitating. Having the ability to control the levels, personally, can lead to great employee satisfaction and increased productivity. In an article written by GE that describes factors that play into prime business-setting lighting, the company notes that, “…occupants feel more satisfied when given individual control over lighting in their workspace. Allowing employees to adapt their surroundings to their personal preference may seem inconsequential, but it can go a long way to improving mood and inviting collaboration throughout the office.”

So, I guess what they’re saying is that I am totally within my rights to want to load my space up with lamps, right?


Balance Natural and Artificial Light through Layering


This may not always be possible, but research shows that optimal lighting situations can be achieved in environments that have access to both natural and artificial light. Finding the right balance between lamp lighting and that of the great outdoors will ensure a more comfortable workspace. The key, really, is in the layering of the two. In fact, it’s shown that layering multiple, dimmer lights can be more beneficial than a full-on blast of brighter illumination. For some great ideas on how to accomplish this in any space, check out these great videos from Kichler Lighting.

What’s one other great thing about layering lighting? It actually works to reduce energy costs. By utilizing more natural light and layering dimmer lights, it reduces theneed for more expensive, higher energy bulbs, which, when combined with solar paneling, can be incredibly cost-effective and beneficial for your business.


Customize the Lighting to the Tasks


It’s true that different tasks require different lighting. What’s key here is that the chosen methods of lighting truly reflect the types of tasks that will be done in that workspace. A more complex task, for example, requires more lighting, as “an increase in illuminance boosts the visual performance and positively influences the detailed and fast visual informational processing,” according to LightingDeluxe. And to further aid those of us who spend our days on computers, it’s key to have the lighting level with the windows, to avoid glare and shadows that can interfere with our electronic tasks.

So, though my “bat cave” looks like an uninhabitable space, it is clear that I’m on the right track. By adding a few more dim lights and increasing or decreasing those light sources when my tasks call for it, I’ll be well on my way to being one effective and happy employee. And isn’t that what we all want for our work?


Adrienne is a freelance writer who loves blogging about productivity and professional development. Follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin if you’d like to get in touch or see more of her work.


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