Research has proven time and time again that lighting and job performance are interrelated. Fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and irritability, are just some of the effects of bad lighting.
This particular study on the relationship between lighting and productivity found multiple conclusion including:
- When people can see their task better, they perform better
- Visual comfort (e.g. decreasing glare) can increase performance
- Light stimulates psychological and physiological processes, which enhances performance.
- Improved lighting conditions can increase job satisfaction
Of course natural light is the best for stimulating creativity, efficiency, and productivity. Studies show that employees exposed to natural light stay on task 15% longer than those who aren’t.
Problem: It may be difficult to control your lighting conditions in an office or corporate environment.
Solution: If you are lucky enough to sit next to a window, keep it open! If that is not an option, consider using your break time to walk outside. Using lamps or bulbs that mimic natural light, as well as light therapy devices will also reduce seasonal depression, reduce fatigue, and improve moods
There have been a number of studies on how the color of light affects us. For example, bright cool light during the day helps increase mood, alertness and productivity. At night, warmer light helps us sleep better and relax so in the morning we’re less grumpy. Blue light at night can negatively affect our circadian rhythm, our internal clock that tells us when we should sleep and when we should wake up.
Problem: While brighter, cool toned lights do help us stay alert and productive, solely using this type of lighting will have adverse effects on our biological processes, which in turn affect our health. People often don’t realize that we need both warm and cool lighting to maximize performance.
Solution: If you are prone to burning the midnight oil, try to include one fixture (like a desk lamp) a warm colored bulb so you have an easier time falling asleep. Better yet, get a fixture where you can switch between warm and cool lighting Use it in conjunction with software (try f.lux) to change the color temperature of your desktop monitor.
Goldilocks was onto something—the perfect temperature is important when it comes to work productivity. When the temperature is either too hot or too cold, employees are not only uncomfortable, but even worse they are distracted. Their minds are focused on cooling down or warming up. A lot less of your energy goes towards concentration, inspiration and focus.
This study conducted by Cornell University found that just by increasing the temperature from 20° C to 25°C, an office was able to:
- Reduce energy consumption
- Lower costs
- Reduce errors by 44%
- Increase output by 150%
- Save ~$2.00 per worker in lost productivity
Problem: You can’t convince your office to adjust the temperature, or your personal preferences differ from the rest of your colleagues.
Solution: Buy a personal fan for your desk if you get warm easily. Or if you the exact opposite, consider stashing a sweater in the office or bringing an electric blanket or hot water bottle.
The use of colors and scents are two quick and easy ways improve your workspace.
Consider the colors you use in your work environment:
- Blue is serene and mentally calming
- Yellow boosts creativity and lifts spirits and self esteem
- Red is stimulating and lively
- Green creates a sense of calming balance
- In general, saturated and bright colors stimulate softer, muted colors relax and soothe
If your workplace doesn’t allow for a complete revamp of your personal office space, consider placing a few boldly colored pieces, like wall art or desktop accessories to boost the work atmosphere.
“Aromatherapy probably isn’t the first tool you’d think of to stimulate your business, but perhaps it should be. Smell is the most powerful of the senses, and is best able to influence brain activity,” says Ruth Mastenbroek, the former president of the British Society of Perfumers, and a driving force behind Ascent, a bespoke scent designed to improve brain activity.
A study conducted by the Takasago Corporation in Japan examined how smells affect the accuracy of typists. The results showed that 54% made fewer errors with the presence of a lemon scent, 33% fewer with jasmine and 20% fewer with lavender.
Try using essential oils to freshen up your workspace. Febreeze and artificially scented air fresheners won’t be as effective.
In a large-scale survey conducted by Gensler, an integrated architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, “the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment,” with up to a 20% increase in productivity. Just changing the lighting, temperature, color, or scent of your office can have significant effects on your work performance. Give it a try!