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How to do office lighting the right way

Never has the need for great office lighting - that lifts us - been more imperative.

When we say GREAT, we mean inspirational workplace lighting - schemes that provide enough light to get the task done, but that also use light to motivate staff, light which is mindful of their teams physical and emotional wellbeing.

A 2018 survey from Fellowes found the majority (81%) of UK office workers spend between four and nine hours each day sitting at their desk, equating to an average of 67 sedentary days, per person, each year.

Our modern lifestyles dictate that we spend most of our time indoors, where commercial lighting has blurred the lines between day and night. Scientific research has made it clear that light isn't just for seeing, but also for governing how our body works from both biological and psychological points of view.

Armed with the power of a good lighting scheme, you can create working conditions in which workers desire to work. Satisfaction and productivity will improve if there is the right balance between daylight and well-thought-out office lighting design.

Artificial lighting, which does more than help you see and achieves a healthy and balanced relationship between the user and the working environment, is the future of good office lighting design.

You are just five steps away from inspirational office lighting design:

1. Light to boost productivity

How can designers use light to raise employee performance and employer appeal?

A study from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering, concluded that the design of the office space plays a vital role, the research showed that in companies with a high standard of interior design, productivity could increase by up to 36%!

Furthermore, the Efficient Lighting Design and Office Worker Productivity study from the Light Right Consortium concluded that light increases productivity, and 91% found a lighting atmosphere with direct/indirect lighting and a high quantity of vertical lit surfaces pleasing. Moreover, if the desk light is individually controllable, people feel motivated and work with greater accuracy.

The studies support the belief that there is more to producing a pleasant and ergonomic lighting scheme than just meeting the lux figures and luminance limits. Other factors, such as reflectance and interior scheme colours, also come into play. Lighting a room's surfaces can uplift a scheme - the light distribution of the luminaire plays a large part towards achieving these goals, especially when the primary lighting solution is ceiling recessed panels.

Recommendation: Use a mix of luminaires, combine ceiling panels, surface mounted, and suspended mounted office lighting with downlights. Play with light directions, direct and indirect.

2. Think 3% daylight

Lighting designers need to be involved early in new build projects. You'll be on to a winner if you can pick a location with a lot of natural daylight. Recommendations state that around 3% of daylight reaches a person's working area.

Daylight gives an emotional quality to a space. And who doesn't like a workspace with a view? If you can, locate desks near windows, so daylight and artificial light can work together. Note: blinds are a must in this situation to prevent harsh reflections on computer screens.

Earlier lighting guidelines focused on reflectance on screens, but LG7 relies on the discretion of the designer over screen reflection limits. Therefore, designers should think to apply them if they are relevant to the space in question but moderated in the knowledge that the published guidance is out-of-date.

Recommendation: Taking advantage of natural daylight wherever possible will, reduce the amount of artificial lighting needed and also boost the user's wellbeing.

3. Provide choice and control

Lighting has a significant impact on our lives. It can impact your circadian rhythm, leading to sleep disturbance and health problems, but it can also boost your activity.

The blue spectrum of white light is known to keep you alert and focused, ideal when you need high levels of concentration. Towards the end of the day, as you want to start winding down, warmer colour temperatures can help regulate the body's rhythm for the night.

Recommendation: Use different colour temperatures within your scheme. Blend cooler 4000K with 3000K. Or give users the flexibility to choose which type of light is right for them and when through dynamic lighting controls.

4. Light for people, not just tasks

Frequently, workplaces are insufficiently lit, not only from the perspective of natural lighting needs but also from an architectural one, i.e., making rooms feel smaller and claustrophobic.

So how can you create a setting that increases innovation and comfort? Here are a few guidelines:

  • Adapt the lighting to the daytime and season, as well as to the individual needs of the user.

  • Vertical surface illumination, preferably on large wall surfaces, is vital to create a sense of space and depth. It also gives a visual resting point for the eyes and adds a pleasant atmosphere to the working environment.

  • Light the ceiling as well as the task area.

Recommendation: Adaptability and flexibility are key; lighting control provides the answer. Some days we need more light than others, once an excellent general scheme has been applied, individual controls such as dimming and even colour change can make a world of difference to a user's comfort.

5. Energy is still important

Energy reduction in the built environment is a continuing challenge, and the lighting within offices is a significant contributor to the energy demands of a complete building.

Careful selection of luminaires and light sources, along with appropriate sensors and controls, can reduce energy demand.

Recommendation: talking to the people who will use the office at a very early stage of the design, helps to understand their needs and work profiles, allowing a more tailored approach, delivering the lighting they need, using the minimum amount of energy.

As our patterns of working are challenged and change, our lighting requirements will need to respond, therefore schemes should be adaptable.

Want to learn more about workplace lighting? Contact the team

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