The best office lighting ideas for employee productivity

The best office lighting ideas for employee productivity

Designing the best office lighting is a top priority for design and management teams as ergonomics research has discovered that lighting is a key player that can affect employees’ mood and productivity. According to ergonomic experts, people are able to concentrate better on their work with bright, good quality lighting and with the added bonus of boosting their mood, whereas dim lighting has been found to cause tiredness and headaches from eye strain. The bottom line is proper office lighting helps make for a more productive and comfortable workspace.

Office lighting design and productivity 

According to Star Davis, who heads up WeWork’s global team of dedicated lighting specialists, the best lighting for productivity is whatever suits your teams’ core business and working needs. 

“Whether it’s to energise and create a productive working space or a relaxation zone, the most important thing to consider is the task that you’re doing,” Davis says. It makes sense to have common areas and kitchens drenched in natural light, as this light is diffuse, and employees aren’t usually looking at screens in these settings. 

However, in workspaces, we are limited by our technology. “The light from the laptops and desktops is nowhere near the power and brightness of the sun, so the brightness of natural light can overwhelm what we’re able to see on laptop screens,” Davis says. This is why desks and workspaces require a more controlled environment—one in which some of the intensity of the sun is blocked out or diffused.

Creatively, you are at your best when you are well-rested, alert, and energised, and the right office lighting can put you in the right state. But lighting that is too dim can strain your eyes and make you feel fatigued. Lighting that is too bright strains your eyes and can even trigger migraines. “If your brain is working extra hard to fill in the blanks, it causes fatigue and impairs your ability to be creative and productive,” Davis says. 

The colour and temperature of office lighting should vary based on the function of the space. A workspace can be turned into a sanctuary of softness and warmth by choosing creamier tones of warmer yellow or orange lights. Whereas cooler blue and white lights are good for working, waking up, and concentrating. If possible, the lighting temperature and colour should vary based on the time of day. More blue/white in the mornings, warmer yellow later in the day. 

LED Vs Fluorescent office lights

Known as an energy-efficient alternative to fluorescent lights, LED lights are becoming the preferred choice for office lighting. LED lights generally have a longer lifespan than fluorescent lights and don’t use excess energy in the form of infrared radiation the way fluorescents do. 

When to comes to LED vs fluorescent lights in terms of impacting our health- LED comes out the winner with more benefits for employees. LED lights can usually be dimmed to match the time of day and the season, making them a better choice than fluorescents. If employees often stay at the office after sundown, fluorescent lights can interfere with their sleep patterns by inhibiting the production of melatonin and have been found to even trigger migraine symptoms in those with tendencies. 

Make the most of natural light in the workplace

According to Cornell University design researchers, employees who were exposed to natural light in the office reported an 84 percent drop in eye strain, headaches, and blurred vision. But in highly dense cities like Hong Kong, the daylighting performance of buildings can be low, so the challenge can be about finding more access to natural light in workspaces.

Researchers at Hong Kong Metropolitan University found that utilising daylight is a useful source of energy savings and visual comforts in buildings. They analysed 35 commercial buildings and evaluated daylighting performance in terms of daylight factor, room depth and glare index. One-third of the office areas that were near the perimeter regions were found to have an average daylight factor of 5%. 

For the inner region of deep plan offices that receive even less daylight, some innovative office lighting ideas and daylighting systems such as light redirecting panels and light pipes were recommended to improve their daylighting performance. Companies like 3M Hong Kong have solutions to optimise natural light through innovations such as daylight redirecting film which can easily be fitted onto existing windows. 

“At WeWork, when designing buildings, we take into consideration the ceiling height, the orientation of the building, latitude, and neighbouring building obstructions, in order to maximise the impact of direct sunlight,” says Davis, which is especially critical in high-density commercial centres like Hong Kong. Areas with windows are typically designated for common areas rather than for private offices so that as many people as possible can have access to natural light. 

If a combination of natural and artificial lighting is being used in an office, it is important to make sure that the daylight does not create direct glare. If any of the desk spaces or seating areas are placed in direct sunlight, the glare will distract and hurt the employees’ eyes and if it is in close quarters, it can make people feel uncomfortably warm as well. Therefore workstations should be placed facing the general direction of natural light, but not directly.

Another consideration is the addition of corrective office lighting to a workspace to balance between light and shadow. Corrective lighting acts as a mediator between the different kinds of lighting and colour temperature in an office. It takes into account the natural light, the main lighting source used at the workplace and computer/mobile screens being used there. Such lighting makes adjustments so that the employees don’t have to strain their vision and can work in better conditions.

Office lighting design should not be an afterthought but rather a consideration at the forefront of your design and management teams’ minds. For the health of your staff, take time to analyse the workspace and find the best lighting solutions that will optimise mindset, mood, creativity and productivity. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we can creatively structure workspaces and locations to serve your business and staff, please visit to connect with us today. 

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