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 you may be in, it can be especially problematic in a home office or in any business setting; in fact, bad lighting is one of the most popular complaints from office employees around the globe.

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 from 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? Take these guidelines into consideration 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 to choose from, and each type has its own specific purpose and its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. You can combine these various types of lighting to create a properly lit working atmosphere.

guide to lighting your office

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 several research studies conducted, including a study conducted in Britain and published in “The Responsible Workplace”, have shown that exposure to natural light not only increases workers’ satisfaction with their workplace, but also increases productivity. Natural light also affects our mood and behavior in a positive way that artificial light cannot. Unfortunately, depending on your workspace, natural light is not always going to be a viable option. Take advantage of it when you can and set up your office furniture accordingly.

guide to lighting your office

Overhead Lighting

This type of lighting isn’t the brightest and can cause shadows or just 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 any 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.

guide to lighting your office

Task Lighting

If your office lacks sufficient natural and overhead light, you may want to consider adding task lighting to all of the employee desks. Tasks lights are small lamps that can be plugged 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.

guide to lighting your office

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 you create a more peaceful atmosphere.

guide to lighting your office

Corrective Lighting

Working with a computer day in and day out for hours at a time 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, as it can be extremely hard on the eyes. There are two types of glare-- reflected glare and direct glare. Some common sources of reflected glare include extra glossy furniture and computer monitors. On the other hand, direct glare is caused by light fixtures being in the wrong place or from direct sunlight. In order to correct direct glare, try moving the light fixtures so that the light reflected by them 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 to have an office or workspace that is uniformly lit. This is where the various types of lighting come into play, as each can help to fill a room in a totally balanced way, making for much happier employees.


Consider wall paint choices: You should definitely consider how the wall color of your office or workspace affects 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 Find Out 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 suffer from some of the very common and negative effects associated with it. Do they suffer from eye strain? Do they find themselves squinting throughout the day in order 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 is lacking 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. You can also use this as a guide.


Need more help finding lighting that works in your office? Call our furniture experts today at (800) 558-1010 or shop our full selection of office lighting.

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