Poor lighting is often cited as one of the most common interior design mistakes. While poor lighting is sure to be stressful and annoying no matter what room it’s in, it can be especially problematic in a home office or any business setting; in fact, bad lighting is one of the most popular complaints from office employees worldwide.

It’s easy to understand why employees are less than thrilled to be in a working environment that’s either too bright or too dim. Improper lighting in the office can negatively affect worker productivity and the quality of the work produced. It can also be a safety and health hazard. Too little light can make it difficult to see, making it much more likely for accidents and injuries to occur. Headaches, fatigue, and eye strain, like watery or burning eyes, may also be caused by too much or too little light. 

So what is the right amount of lighting, and what type of light source should you seek for your office building? Consider these guidelines while you decide.

Types of Lighting

First thing’s first—what type of lighting should you choose for your office? There are a few different options, and each type has a specific purpose and distinct advantages and disadvantages. You can combine these various types of lighting to create a properly lit working atmosphere.

Natural Light

Windows are prized possessions in any office building. They tend to be rare, typically reserved for executives with corner offices. Windows go beyond adding a view—they also provide valuable natural light. 

Natural lighting is a superior option to any form of electric lighting, as many studies have shown that exposure to natural light only increases workers’ satisfaction with their workplace, as well as their productivity. Natural light also positively affects our mood and behavior that artificial light cannot. 

Unfortunately, depending on your workspace, natural light may be a viable option. Take advantage of it when you can and set up your office furniture accordingly.

Overhead Lighting

Overhead lighting isn’t the brightest and can cause shadows or be too dim. It’s usually best to add other types of lighting and not rely solely on an overhead light. 

For those working in an office with fluorescent overhead lights, adding either corrective or ambient lighting may help to reduce the discomfort you experience working with fluorescent lighting. As far as overhead lights go, you will want to opt for lensed indirect lighting as opposed to direct parabolic lighting.

Task Lighting

If your office lacks sufficient natural and overhead light, you may consider adding task lighting to employee desks. Tasks lights are small lamps that you can plug into any outlet to provide extra lighting right where the employee needs it. There are even LED task lights and lamps made to emulate the look of natural light.

Ambient Lighting

Stressed out while you work? It might have less to do with your workload and more to do with your surroundings. Ambient lighting has a low intensity that can help create a more peaceful atmosphere.

Corrective Lighting

Working with a computer day in and day out for hours can cause eye strain and even migraines. Placing corrective lighting behind your computer monitor can help immensely. The corrective lighting helps to diminish the glare coming from the screen.

How to Properly Light Your Office

Look out for glare, which can be extremely hard on the eyes. There are 2 types of glare—reflected glare and direct glare. Some common sources of reflected glare include extra glossy furniture and computer monitors. Direct glare is caused by light fixtures in the wrong place or direct sunlight. 

To correct direct glare, try moving fixtures so the light is reflected away from you and not toward you. Adding other lighting can help with either type of glare by increasing the brightness of the area around whatever is causing it. Corrective lighting, for example, is great for correcting the glare caused by computer monitors.

Make sure to note where light is poorly distributed. You will want a uniformly lit office or workspace. Additional lighting can help fill a room in a totally balanced way, making for much happier employees.

Consider wall paint: You should consider how the wall color and finishes of your office or workspace affect the lighting. Super bright or glossy wall paint can cause glare, so you may want to avoid choices that fall under those categories.


How to Determine If Your Office Needs Better Lighting

One of the best ways to find out if your office is indeed suffering from poor lighting is to ask your employees if they experience some common negative effects. Do they suffer from eye strain? Do they find themselves squinting throughout the day to see things more clearly? Do they often have headaches while at their desk or looking at their computer screens?

Another, more systematic way to determine where your office lacks proper lighting is to perform various ergonomic tests. It is possible to measure the average illumination throughout your workplace. Do this and compare your findings with what is recommended for optimal productivity and safety.


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