Headaches, eye-strain and irritation, blurred vision, dry burning eyes, and trouble seeing documents or screens, are all symptoms of poor office lighting conditions.
Are you scared yet?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone, according to a study conducted by the American Society of Interior Designers up to 68% of employees complain about the lighting situation in their office. But more importantly, don’t worry because I’ve done the research and the solutions are simpler than you think. Keep reading, and if you’re an employee pass this on to your office administrator so they know how to turn your office into a healthier and happier place to work.
And if you’re the boss, read this, get off your butt and light your place up right. After all – happier and healthier employees are much more productive employees. In fact, there is a famous case study showing how improving the lighting in a Post Office in Reno, Nevada in the 1980s, resulted in revenues rising by £352,000 (€440,000 ) per year.
The first step is recognising the problem, and we are lucky, as a lot of research has already been conducted by countless occupational health and safety organizations from across the globe. Here are some of the top culprits:
- Insufficient lighting – light that is too dim or light coming from the wrong direction and causing shadows.
- Improper contrast – contrast that is too high or not high enough between the focus area and environment.
- Too much glare – lighting bouncing back and hurting your eyes.
- Improper type of light – the wrong colour tone or temperature of the lighting.
The next step is identifying some common causes of these problems. Let’s see if any of these rings true for your particular situation. I’ve also included some tips for you to take to rectify the situation:
- The fluorescent dilemma – these oftentimes overly bright lights buzzing and sometimes flickering above your head are frequently identified as problematic sources of illumination in any office. You may want to try and use more natural lighting, replace your overbearing lighting with warmer illumination and create workstations with independent lighting solutions optimised for today’s digital world.
- Insufficient or overpowering wattage – utilizing incandescent bulbs that are too weak will strain your eyes, while wattage that’s too high will result in overpowering glare. Try to find the right balance and also consider swapping incandescent lighting with LED solutions which are oftentimes capable of producing adjustable colour tones optimized and sometimes even come with ambient light sensors that can automatically provide you with illumination optimized for your specific workstation environment.
- Outdated workstation lamps – our working environment has changed dramatically over just the last few years and we are now using a great deal of digital devices to get our jobs done. If you are still using old incandescent lights with a small focus illumination area, this can be a source of your problem. You should consider choosing a new lamp with a sufficiently wide illumination area that’s perfect for illuminating the combination of media (digital and hard print) you interact with on a daily basis.
Now, with your lighting situation sorted, don’t forget to also: give your eyes a break from staring at screens every 20 minutes or so, use eye drops if you’re working in an overly dry environment, and make sure you are sitting sufficiently far away from the screen.
So now it’s your turn, take a fresh look at your lighting next time you’re in your office and take steps to take your lighting to a happier and healthier place.