Let’s face it. Your office is a vital part of your business. Your office is the place where your employees congregate, attend important meetings, and build the future of your company. For such an important space in the fabric of your business, it’s important not to overlook critical lighting and lighting design elements that will help you and your employees be more engaged in the workplace and build a more efficient business as a result.
When we think of office buildings today, we often think about bright, intense fluorescent tubes installed in the ceiling. These lights have now become notorious for being overly bright and obtrusive and producing an uncomfortable workplace environment for office employees. Regardless of these downsides, for many years fluorescent technology was used in offices because it was the most cost-effective lighting available. Finally this has begun to change, with LED technology beginning to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting over the last decade.
It’s not only what technology you choose, though, it’s about how you design the lighting for your office space. Recent studies have indicated that 68 percent of employees are dissatisfied with the lighting in their office workspace. With such a large percentage of people experiencing some sort of issue with the way most workspaces are lit, there’s definitely a bigger problem at work here.
The most effective office lighting offers a combination of factors. You want energy efficient lighting that will also adequately light your workplace (but not be too harsh or overbearing). You also need the lighting in your office to be aesthetically pleasing to your employees. Balancing all these elements can be tough, but it’s not impossible to pull off.
That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help you figure out the best option for your office. We’ll go over ways to use sunlight more effectively in your office space, how to choose a color temperature for your lights, as well as an overview of various lighting technologies and fixtures you can install.
Using Sunlight in your Office Design
A lot of times people forget the best source of lighting for any indoor space: the sun. Artificial light can never really replace the mood-enhancing benefits of pure sunlight, which is why you should try to implement natural light source into your office whenever possible.
In the past we’ve talked about Daylight Harvesting, which is a technique you can use to gather more sunlight into your office areas. Skylights are probably the most obvious implement to pull sunlight into a building, though in an office with various floors this isn’t always a viable option.
The challenge here is to collect natural sunlight into your space without direct sun rays coming into your space, heating up the interior of your office and also causing a glare problem. One way you can accomplish this is to make full use of all the window space in your office, as well as installing sensors on your lights that will regulate the balance of artificial light and sunlight so that your workers get adequate lighting for their tasks at hand. For this purpose, Shine Retrofits carries a wide selection of lighting controls and sensors to browse through.
You can also install special shades on your window so that light doesn’t directly fall in people’s fields of vision but instead reflects off the floor and ceiling. Using a white paint on your walls and ceilings will help reflect and spread the natural light throughout the office.
Upgrading to LEDs
For most modern offices, LED technology is the best lighting option available. Not only is it more energy efficient than fluorescent and incandescent lighting options, but it allows you a wide berth of choices on the types of fixtures, watts, and color temperatures you need for the various spaces in your office.
In case you didn’t know, LEDs have taken the lighting market by storm in the last decade. The reason for this is clear: LEDs are more energy efficient than any other lighting option out there. LEDs are especially effective for spaces where lights are need to remain on for extended periods of time. Since most offices typically run their lights for long periods of the day, it’s a no-brainer to make the switch to LED. A great place to start is Shine Retrofits’ selection of LED troffers and recessed lighting.
Consider switching to LEDs for every fixture that you use in your office all day, including overhead bulbs in your work areas, task lights in workspaces, and hallway lights. If you don’t want to pay for brand new fixtures, you can also think about investing in a retrofit instead, allowing you to install LED bulbs in your old fixtures without much trouble. Here’s a list of LED retrofit kits on our site.
Deciding on Light Placement
Where you put your lighting can have just as big an effect as the type of lighting you choose. One mistake many offices make is that they rely too heavily on intense overhead lighting. Not only is this not energy efficient, but bright overhead lights tend to be be annoying to office workers, causing employees eye fatigue and leading to sleep disruption in some cases.
The best way to place lights is parallel to windows, which helps balance the combination of natural light with artificial light sources. Diffused light is best for offices, helping to reduce glare and hot spots during laptop or desk work. You can assist the light diffusion in your office space by covering your walls with a light, matte paint finish, which aids in diffusion while also reducing glare and contrast issues in your office. Also, you should consider using task lights for individual or group workplaces, allowing you to save money while also allowing employees the autonomy to control lighting at their own workspace.
Choosing Color Temperature
Color temperature has increasingly become a concern for lighting designers in both residential and commercial sectors. Recent studies have shown that various light spectrums affect the human brain differently. At healthy levels of exposure, the blue, more energetic light we typically use in offices can be stimulating and improve workflow. But exposure can lead to fatigue and disrupt sleep patterns, leading to a decrease in productivity for your business.
The key is to balance out the color temperatures you use in your office. Current technology allows for a wide variety of options in lighting color temperature, allowing you the autonomy to design your lighting choices around the needs of your space.
Generally, higher color temperatures are more stimulating to the human brain, increasing alertness and central nervous system responses. That’s why it’s advisable to use lighting temperatures of 5000k and higher for workplaces. Light in the 5000k to 7000k range mimics natural sunlight the best.
You can go too far, though, and bombard office workers with bright light. Another risk is that too much blue light, which occurs at the high end of the temperature spectrum, leads to eye fatigue and sleep disruption for employees. Giving employees the option of warmer task lights can be a good option, allowing workers to opt for yellower light if they’re annoyed by the high color temperature. Another option is switch over to warmer temperatures as you near the end of the workday, which can help mitigate the downsides of too much blue light exposure.
Consider using lower color temperatures for break rooms or any other areas that employees congregate to talk and relax. Lower color temperatures produce a warmer, pleasing light, which is perfect for spaces that are supposed to feel comfortable and welcoming. In this same vein, warm lights are also great for spaces where you welcome clients or entertain business partners.
If you have any questions about setting up your office lighting, we’d love to hear from you. Our customer service team at Shine Retrofits are experts in lighting design, technology, installation, and retrofitting. Whenever you get the chance, give us a call at 1-877-958-9171 anytime Monday through Friday from 6am to 6pm, Mountain Standard Time. We look forward to helping you get your office lighting just right!