Can Changing Your Lighting Change Your Workplace?

Imagine you walk into your workplace in the morning. Above you, neon lights buzz and flicker occasionally. The light is both harsh and a little too dim at the same time. As you settle into your office, the slightly bluish tinge of the overhead lights makes everything and everyone look washed out and sallow. 

How productive would you feel in that lighting? 

While compensation, benefits, and work/life balance all contribute to the well-being of office workers (who spend more time now than ever between the walls of their offices), there are some other, more subtle factors that contribute to the productivity, mood, and overall satisfaction of workers. One of those things is the amount and quality of lighting. 

Here are just some of the ways that lighting affects your workplace–and how an electrical contractor can make changes today to improve your current illumination situation.


Productivity

Studies have shown a direct correlation between the kind of lighting in the workplace and worker productivity. Specifically, if the lighting is inadequate for the environment or not adapted to the task, workers lose productivity. This is due to eye strain, distracting illumination or simply a loss of motivation. Workstations should be sufficiently lit to allow employees to see their tasks and accomplish them quickly, effectively and with minimal effort.

Poorly lit work areas lead to tired employees. Tired employees who need to squint to read documents or strain their eyes to read labels make mistakes. Crucial details are missed, time is wasted on ineffective work or fixing errors and in the end, the company loses money and manpower. Improper lighting also leads to workers needing to take more frequent breaks. The bottom line is that your workplace lighting needs to be adequate for workers to be productive and business to run smoothly.

So how much light is enough? Light brightness is measured in lumens; offices require at least 500 lumens in order to be bright enough for workers to perform tasks properly. Having electrical contractors assess your lighting needs and adjust them accordingly can save you precious time and money in the long run.

Mood

Happy workers are, unsurprisingly, better workers. Ideally, natural light–from windows and skylights–is the best for enhancing mood and triggering the cortisol production in our brains (the “happy hormone”). Cortisol stabilizes mood, so maximize natural light in your workplace if you can!

Luckily, even if natural light is in short supply in your business, artificial lighting–thanks to LEDs–has become more mood-friendly. LEDs deliver more lumens per watt, so they’re brighter and effective at mimicking the effects of sunlight. While incandescent or fluorescent bulbs–the gold standard for lighting in commercial buildings for decades–have a limited range of correlated temperature (CCT), LEDs have more to offer. With their wide range of CCT, gone are the days of cold blue lighting only. Light temperature, measured in Kelvins (K), can be adapted to environments and tasks. Lower-temperature lights, which we refer to as warm lighting, goes up to 3,000K. This is ideal for intimate settings and areas like break rooms that are designed for relaxation. Mid-range color temps range from 3,100K to 4,600K and are more cool white. This welcoming in-between illumination is great for general workspaces as it promotes alertness without being too cold. Higher temperature lights–those that hit above 4,600K–are considered cold. Perfect for sharpening the mind and staying alert, they are great for brainstorming spaces. Cold lighting lowers melatonin levels, which reduces fatigue. This also translates to higher productivity! Offices should aim to illuminate with CCT between 3,500K and 5,000K, since that range is closest to natural daylight.

As if that weren’t enough to convince you to switch your workplace lighting over to LEDs, they are extremely cost-effective and energy-efficient. Banish the blues and save money doing it by switching over to LEDs.

Tailor Your Environment

So how should you use lighting strategically throughout your workplace? Start by using blue light–the “cold lighting” we mentioned earlier–in brainstorming areas and workstations where you want to promote productivity. Brainstorming and thinking are easier when the lighting promotes mental acuity and alertness. Workers will appreciate this type of lighting that reduces fatigue and invigorates. 

Warm lighting is best for relaxation areas like break rooms as well as intimate settings like meeting rooms. Warmer lighting will promote discussion and foster a sense of trust.

Reserve mid-range lighting for conference rooms. While you want the space to feel welcoming and inviting, you also want to keep the tones cooler for idea-sharing and alertness.

For the ultimate in adaptability and customization, consider adjustable lighting–in the form of dimmable lights or LEDs that can be switched over from warmer tones to cooler ones at the push of a button.


The effects of indoor lighting on productivity, mood and cognitive performance are well-documented. Making changes in the amount and type of lighting in your workplace can transform the environment more than you could imagine!

Ready to make a change to your workplace lighting? Lakeview Electric is a team of full-scale electrical contractors with over 30 years of experience. Contact us and we’ll work together to make your lighting and electrical projects come true.

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