The best lighting for offices must strike a balance between brightness and comfort. A commercial office with inadequate lighting can cause eyestrain and reduce employee morale. Conversely, excessively bright lighting casts harsh glares on computer screens and leads to headaches and other distractions.
The best office lighting uses as much natural light as possible. Indirect ambient lighting and task lighting can ensure even illumination with no glare or shadows. In windowless offices, imitate nature with colored lighting, fluorescent light filters and other options.
Types of Lighting & Light Fixtures
Offices require different lighting levels based on the age of the building, the availability of natural light and the type of work being done. The best lighting in offices usually combines several types of light.
- Natural light has the most positive influence on employee mood, behavior and satisfaction.
- Ample natural light can increase the real estate value of an office property up to 20% compared to one without natural light.
- Ambient lighting, or general lighting, is the main source of lighting in a room. Windows and ceiling lights provide ambient lighting.
- Task lighting is cast by small lamps placed at individual desks or workstations to supplement ambient lighting. Task lighting can improve performance by increasing the light on fine details, such as reading documents, while reducing eyestrain and workplace fatigue.
- Corrective lighting is placed behind monitors and eases glare.
- Accent lighting, also called mood lighting, is primarily decorative and less important to productivity.
The general or ambient lighting in an office should be as even as possible, minimizing shadows and glare. Indirect light fixtures can be the most effective at maximizing even light.
- Direct light fixtures provide task lighting but can create shadows and uneven areas.
- Direct-indirect light fixtures distribute light equally downward and upward to reduce glare.
- Indirect light fixtures project upward to reflect off the ceiling and upper walls. They are popular in offices for providing the most even illumination and the least direct glare.
- Shielded light fixtures use diffusers, lenses and louvres to obstruct bulbs from direct view. This prevents glare and distributes light evenly.
Find the Best Lighting for Your Workspace
Poor lighting can be a health and safety hazard. Ensure your office has light that is:
- Bright enough for employees to do their tasks without visual strain
- Placed as evenly as possible to eliminate glare
- Positioned and spaced to avoid casting shadows
- Providing steady illumination with no flickering
These strategies will help improve lighting in an office:
- Survey employees to determine their satisfaction with the office light levels.
- Replace light bulbs on a regular schedule. Old bulbs emit less light than new ones.
- Keep light fixtures clean and free of dust and dirt that could reduce the illumination.
- Avoid positioning workstations with a window or light source directly behind the worker.
What Are Office Lighting Standards?
OSHA’s lighting standards require that offices have a minimum of 500 lumens, comparable to a 35-watt incandescent bulb. OSHA also requires that light fixtures have protective plates and no exposed wiring.
OSHA recommendations for office lighting include:
- Well-distributed rows of diffuse lights parallel to the line of sight
- Supplemental task and desk lighting
- Blinds on windows to eliminate bright light
- Orientation of computers to set the screens at a right angle to window lighting
- Use of light colors and matte finishes on walls and ceilings to reduce contrast and soften reflected light
LED Lighting for Business
LED lighting for business offers multiple advantages over traditional light bulbs, including a better environmental impact. They can be more expensive than traditional bulbs but offer cost savings over time.
- They last 10-20 times as long as halogen or incandescent bulbs.
- They use less electricity than traditional bulbs, reducing power bills.
- They operate at a lower heat output, which brings down office cooling costs and reduces the risk of fire.
- They have lower carbon dioxide emissions and are less likely to contain mercury and other toxic materials.
- Most new light fixtures are designed to be LED compatible.
Enhance Lighting in Windowless Offices
Employees in offices with natural light are more productive than those in offices with artificial lighting, according to studies from Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Follow these strategies to attain the best lighting for offices with no windows:
- Use cool blue or white lights to imitate natural lighting where possible. These are found to encourage working and concentration, where warmer orange or yellow lights are more conducive to relaxing. Some offices alter the color of the lighting over the course of a day to mimic natural light.
- If the office is equipped with fluorescent lights, use fluorescent light filters to reduce blue spectrum light and make the lighting more natural.
- Use cove lights and other hidden light fixtures to provide indirect illumination comparable to window light. Cove lights are bult into ledges, recesses or beams and project light toward the ceiling or against adjacent walls. Hidden lights are more affordable than cove lights and can be placed unseen on shelves, behind furniture and other areas.
- Lamps and task lights can replace or supplement overhead lighting in a windowless office. Individual employees can adjust the lights to reduce glare and save energy by turning them off when not in use.
Pro Tip: In addition to lighting solutions, decorate windowless offices with reflective accessories and warm, bright paint or wallpaper to enhance the light in the room.
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The best office lights brighten up a workplace. Use LED bulbs and indirect lighting while taking advantage of natural light. Following office lighting standards can help improve workplace morale and productivity.
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