Lighting the fires of motivation in your workplace
Have you ever noticed how your mood is affected by light? That burst of energy on a bright, sunny day certainly seems harder to summon up on a rainy morning. Interestingly, the same is true in the workplace, so Evoke Projects examines the relationship between office lighting and productivity, with tips for your next office refurbishment or fitout.
How does office lighting affect productivity?
Without getting too technical, light is used by the human endocrine system to determine the level of hormones we need for our current situation. A person’s feelings and mood are influenced by the various chemicals and hormones in the body. You will have heard of ‘biological clocks’ and ‘circadian rhythms’ – these are related to feelings of energy and your actual, not just perceived, ability to perform tasks. Poor lighting affects your circadian rhythms and therefore has an effect on motivation, concentration and productivity.
As well as the mood impact of lighting, there is the functional aspect. Dimly lit offices make it difficult for employees to see what they are doing, leading to potential mistakes—never good for productivity!
WHS and health issues can be caused by poor office lighting
People who work in environments where they feel nurtured are generally more motivated. Workplace health and safety is an important part of looking after staff and apart from this, employers have a general duty of care to maintain a safe workplace.
Trip hazards can easily arise in poorly lit areas, particularly dark corners and storerooms. Eyestrain and headaches are also common health issues to watch out for. If any of these problems are evident in your workplace, undertake a review of your office lighting and ask staff for their feedback.
When considering an office refurbishment or new fitout, consult Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZ1680, Lighting and the Visual Environment for information about safe and effective workplace lighting. Evoke Projects can advise you how to incorporate this standard into your new office fitout.
Is there enough natural light in your office design?
There is plenty of evidence to show the advantages of being exposed to natural light during your workday. Although it is not as common in Australia as it is in the Northern Hemisphere, a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) causes depression in workers who don’t get enough natural light during their day.
If you can design your office to bring in natural light, everyone will reap the rewards of brighter moods. Even if you operate from a high-rise building, positioning desks near to windows or using a rooftop or courtyard breakout space can increase natural light exposure. Also encourage employees to take a stroll outside every day.
Interestingly, even night-time sleeping has shown to benefit, with employees sleeping an average of 46 minutes more each night than those who saw very little sunlight. *
Getting it right with artificial light
Of course, the realities of large floor offices mean that artificial lighting will be required throughout most of your office space.
The trick is to select artificial lighting that suits your office design and the tasks to be performed. Consider the light fixtures that will work well in your office space and add desk lamps or portable floor lamps in areas that need extra light.
Types of artificial lighting for offices and workplaces
LEDs, halogen bulbs and fluorescent lights are the main options for artificial lighting in offices and commercial premises:
- LEDs are available in a variety of colours and tones, so you have maximum flexibility and can use different LEDs for different zones. Mix it up! For example, you could choose warm white for your breakout areas, cool white in open plan zones and even coloured mood lighting in client meeting rooms or showrooms.
- Halogens are bright and have a low unit cost but they have a very short lifespan (approximately 1,000-2,000 hours compared to up to 50,000 hours for LED), so they are not ideal for your office design plans. Halogens also generate a lot of heat and are power hungry.
- Fluorescent lamps have minimal flexibility and tend to result in unevenly lit offices because of the way they dissipate light.
Fluorescent lamps contain mercury, requiring special disposal, so they are not at all environmentally friendly.
Cost and energy savings for your office lighting
Lighting accounts for around 18–40% of electricity usage in commercial premises.** It makes sense therefore to look at options that will reduce office running costs as well as contribute to environmental sustainability.
LED lights are a good solution for cost and energy savings. They may seem expensive to buy up front, but good quality LED lights have a long life and use less energy, saving money over the long term. Avoid cheap LEDs, which are prone to flickering and failure.
Taking an average 500 lumens of light output (a typical office), estimates show that LED lights cost 25% less per year to run compared to fluorescents and 83% less than halogens.
‘Daylight harvesting’ LEDs adjust according to the amount of natural light in the room, so running costs can be reduced even further. The Lighting Council has produced a handy LED Buyers Guide, available online.
Evoke Projects’ services include lighting design for new office fitouts and refurbishments. We specialise in designing workplaces that engage and motivate employees for maximum productivity and return on your investment. Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 for more information.