Setting up your office lighting is an important decision. While it might initially seem somewhat insignificant, the type of light you use can actually affect productivity, mood and even the health of your employees.
To figure out what kind of lights you want (or need) to use at your business, take a deep dive into the impact of different types of office lighting:
Natural light is widely considered the best type of lighting for workplace productivity. Workers in an office with natural light typically sleep better at night and exercise more, according to Bloomberg. It also puts your employees in a better mood because sunlight improves serotonin production, which in turn makes people feel happier and more alert.
Low levels of serotonin could lead to depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. While it’s not possible to use only natural lighting, you should look for any opportunity you can to add more natural light in your office plan, especially near desks and conference rooms. Your employees will appreciate it.
The latest trend in office lighting has been switching to energy efficient LED and fluorescent bulbs. While these bulbs are more effective at controlling your energy costs, there are concerns that long exposure to this type of bright lighting can create eye strain and eventually lead to serious problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to The Vision Council’s 2015 Digital Eye Strain Report.
Since health concerns get worse with increased exposure to these bulbs, you should see if you can limit how often employees use your indoor lighting. That could mean having them work more during sunny hours so they can use natural light, and having specific times during the day when the lights are off.
You could also set up smaller lamps with incandescent bulbs at the desks of employees. This way, you can use your overhead lighting less frequently. Finally, advise your employees to take regular breaks from looking at their computer and mobile screens throughout the day. The Vision Council reports that over 90% of adults spend more than 2 hours a day using digital devices, which can cause the same vision problems as too much exposure to bright overhead lighting, such as eye strain and cataracts.
The brightness of your office lighting can have an interesting effect on how your employees perform. Bright lights tend to make employees feel more alert, which can help them concentrate on their tasks, according to the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Dimming the lights, however, makes people more creative, which can come in handy for brainstorming sessions. Make sure your employees are aware of this and can adjust their lighting when appropriate.
Getting your office lighting right will take a little extra planning — but it’s well worth the effort for the increase in productivity and workplace satisfaction.
David Rodeck is a professional freelance writer based out of Delaware. Before writing full-time, he worked as a health- and life-insurance agent. He specializes in making insurance, investing and financial planning understandable.