5 Surprising Ways Workplace Lighting Can Improve Your Mood
Most of us do not think much about lighting so long as we have enough to easily see what we are doing. But poor workplace lighting--which is not the same as dim lighting--can cause headache, neck soreness, and even double vision. It might be a design cliché, but good lighting truly is everything. Lighting affects the ambiance and mood of a space — get it right and the whole look of your interiors will improve. Here are some steps to consider.
1. Turn overhead lights down. The human eye is very bad at determining actual levels of light. The way we see light is based on the amount of contrast between different types of light in our environment; we use comparisons to comprehend light levels. For instance, if the hallway outside your office is more lit up than the office itself, you might start to feel like the office isn't bright enough even though the level of brightness is the same as it's always been. Too much light creates 'disability glare' which makes it more difficult to see things as opposed to allowing us to see more clearly.
2. Make lighting more flexible. Not only are we generally getting more light than we should, the amount of light that is best varies from person to person and from task to task. For example, someone working with physical documents will have very different lighting needs than someone working with multiple computer screens. The best solution is to allow for variable lighting--a good reason to dim overhead lights and provide individual lights or lamps that can be turned off or on according to individual preference and task.
3. Reduce blue light. Many office environments rely on fluorescent and LED lights which give off blue light. Blue light occurs in nature and boosts attention and mood during the morning and early afternoon. The only problem is that when we work past sunset and continue to be bombarded with blue light because too much of it disrupts sleep cycles.
4. Consider OLED lighting. OLED (organic light-emitting diode) is more familiar as the technology behind high-end tablets, but it's being used to create flat-panel lighting that is easier on the eyes and often more attractive than traditional lightbulbs.
5. Use natural light as much as you can. You won't be able to get all the light you need through the window, depending on weather and time of day. And you'll likely want to work some times when it is dark outside. Still, using natural light as much as is practical may reduce the likelihood of eye strain and related issues. After all, sunlight is what our eyes evolved to see. If you're feeling sleepy or irritable, or suffering from headaches during the workday, there may be a reason you haven't considered--your lighting. It's worth taking a few moments to think about your workplace lighting, since a few relatively minor adjustments can make a big difference to your well-being and even your productivity.