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Workplace Lighting

Find out how to improve the aesthetic, mood and feeling of your workplace whilst promoting the productivity and wellbeing of your team through lighting design.

6 min read
Workplace meeting room with circular track lighting on ceiling.

Whether it’s task lighting or accent lighting, proper lighting in the workplace makes all work tasks easier.

Part of achieving inspiring workplace environments is creating well rounded spaces so that employees can harness their full potential. There are many factors in workplace design that can have an impact on the wellbeing and productivity of your team. Lighting is just one of them, but one that can have a substantial effect on the way your team function, behave and feel at work, and even have significant health implications.

Different activities require different levels of light which is why workplace lighting is not a one size fits all, but requires a specialist office interior expert to develop a lighting scheme design that is in tune with the people using your workplace. We’ve put together a few strategies for consideration when designing your workplace lighting concept.

Designing lighting by activity

Understanding how your staff work and utilise space is the first step to implement beneficial lighting. Lighting plays a big part in the productivity levels in the workplace; therefore, it should be adjusted to suit different tasks that may occur in different spaces. Any artificial lighting you are putting into your workspaces should be adjusted for the activity, individual requirements, and function.

Task focused areas generally need brighter white light to boost productivity and focus levels. In spaces where people are spending a large majority of their day looking at screens, it is important to consider lighting that can be adjusted to avoid glares bouncing back from screens.

Other spaces such as reception areas and breakout spaces don’t usually require as invigorating lighting and are better suited to softer diffused illumination. It’s important to remember that your reception area and reception desk are a critical contact point between your customers and the office, and particular emphasis should be focussed on getting lighting levels in this area to reflect the atmosphere you wish to impose upon visiting clientele and staff.

Equally as important is to be conscious of transition spaces between different lighting zones. Sudden contrasts in light levels can be harsh on the eyes and for most takes a few seconds to adapt. When the emphasis moves from the group to the individual, the lighting should follow suit. Transitions from darker areas to well-lit areas should be made gradual where possible to allow for the eyes to adjust to help create seamless movement through the space.

The impact of lighting on mental health

Poor lighting is often overlooked in the workplace when we talk about mental health, but bad lighting is associated with a number of health issues. Studies show that 1 in 3 people prioritise lighting in the workplace as an important factor in their daily health and wellbeing.

Insufficient lighting can often be associated with a range of negative effects on health, including eye strain, headaches and fatigue, which most commonly come about as a consequence of too much time spent exposed to inadequately designed artificial lighting.

Another potential health issue related to inadequate lighting is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which can occur from a lack of time spent in natural lighting settings. SAD is a common reason for increased workplace absenteeism in the winter months when reduced day light is coupled with poor interior office lighting. Particularly common in parts of the northern hemisphere, where daylight by itself will not provide sufficient illuminance throughout the working day, suitable lighting needs to be made of up a combination of natural and artificial lighting to reduce the potential for SAD related issues.

Open plan workplace seating area with a mixture of seating with person overlooking onto the ground floor through floor to ceiling windows

When designing your workplace it is essential to try and situate areas of high-use as close to natural daylight sources as possible. You will often find in well-designed offices that the main desking areas are placed towards the perimeter of the building, closest to windows in an attempt to give staff the most direct access to natural light.

In areas where access to natural daylight is limited, consider lights that mimic nature or provide personalized lighting that can be adjusted as per the individual biodynamics as well as the task on hand. Talk to your workplace designer about creating visibility paths throughout the space which can allow natural light to pour into spaces which are embedded deep towards the core of your building away from any windows. There are a number of ways we can help you to do this including the considered use of blinds and shutters, inserting glazed partitioning or bespoke glazing or tinting to windows.

Different types of lighting

So what different types of light is there available? Our design team have experience using a vast scope of different lighting for a range of different workplaces that operate all in different ways. Lighting can fall on different spectrums whether its soft vs bright, cold tone vs warm tone, yellow vs white and knowing which is right to use for what tasks is crucial to creating a workplace that really works for all the job functions and individuals in your team. In general terms bright and warm but white based lighting correlates to energy and productivity, while dim lighting is associated with lethargy and more restful zones.

To keep things simple we’ve broken it up into three main categories of workplace lighting which should be layered throughout your office in order to accomplish a good lighting setup:

General/ambient workplace lighting

Ambient lighting sets the overall mood for your office and should be the main source of light, ultimately responsible for creating enough light for your staff to see and move around comfortable and safely. In an office environment this is usually created from overhead ceiling fixtures, often fixed in a maximum quantity all over the office space. It is important to ensure any overhead lights are not overly bright or have glare in them, and generally you want to avoid ceiling lighting being directly over an employees desk – which an only be feasible if the lights are smaller in size.  

Accent workplace lighting

You could say accent lighting is generally placed for purely aesthetic reasons but it also helps to create a focal point.  For example, it could be best utilised over a branded feature or unique element in your workplace that you want to draw attention to. It works best if accent lighting is at least three times brighter than your general workplace lighting and you’ll want to use a fitting which can be angled or directed to create a spotlight type effect. Commonly we’ll use track or recessed lighting, or wall-mounted fixtures such as picture lights to achieve the desired effects of accent lighting.

"LDN:W" graphic wall feature lighting.
Task workplace lighting

Task lighting provides a localised light source that acts in addition to your general lighting to help brighten or darken a certain area. Task lighting should help users reduce glare and be bright enough to prevent eye strain for activities like reading or focussed computer work. Having easily adjustable task lighting can ensure everyone in your workforce feels comfortable working in the office. By being able to control lighting to meet your own individual needs means that your workplace is inclusive to everyone.

Person working at desk illuminated by warm toned lighting

If you want to know how we can help you improve the aesthetic, mood and feeling of your workplace as well as promoting the productivity and wellbeing of your team through lighting design then get in touch today –