Clare Kumar talks lights: Bright ideas for office lighting.

When it comes to lighting, one size does not fit all, and even for one person, preferences vary throughout the day.  Studies show lighting affects mood, overall satisfaction in an environment, and may affect productivity.

I desire bright, naturally lit spaces during the day.  When I worked in the corporate world however, I had a colleague who would turn the ceiling lights off in her office and work only from the light from her computer screen. The nature of our lighting comfort is truly personal.

People who have control over lighting show improvements in productivity (self-rated) and greater satisfaction with their environments.

There are three main types of lighting to consider:

1. Natural light

In some countries, building codes stipulate the required proximity to windows to ensure access to available light.  In North America, the growing number of open concept offices is increasing light flow in today’s spaces but you have to be pretty close to a window to benefit from more than the view alone. Today’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification encourages natural lighting by awarding credits for direct line of sight access to windows (90%), and a minimum daylight factor.

Easy to manipulate blinds are important in controlling the amount of light and heat coming directly into a workspace.  Floor to ceiling glass windows may be letting in too much light, creating glare and impeding the ability to work.

Research supports the idea that productivity is boosted by natural light, especially in winter months.  I’ve worked in a variety of office environments and felt the benefits of lighting that suited my preferences versus that which didn’t. In fact, my access to natural light was a key driver in starting my own business. Sounds like a small thing, but it can have a profound impact on the way we live.

2. Ambient light

Ambient lights are most commonly found in rows of ceiling lights, placed to provide general lighting to an area. They are not generally bright enough for task work. In fact, there are energy savings to be had by lowering ambient light and increasing the use of task lights.

3. Task lighting

Task lighting provides the greatest opportunity for individual control, yet I am amazed by how   many cubicles I see without task lights. Task lighting is a simple-to-implement, effective way to improve a work space.  Companies with shared work spaces will want to provide task lighting with a variety of light levels (dimmers or preset levels) at all stations to enable customization.

Clare Kumar is the founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company. Clare works with business owners and employees to drive greater productivity and peace of mind through better organization at work and at home. An industry expert, Clare also creates new products to help people remove the ‘bumps’ from their day. If there’s something you do every day that’s slowing you down, she wants to hear from you.



By Adam

October 16, 2012