8th September 2021

Can office lighting affect efficiency?

Can office lighting affect efficiency? Cover Image

Can Office Lighting affect Efficiency?

Summer is here in full force- perhaps the hottest heat wave on record, beating even that famous 1977 summer. But today marks the Summer Solstice. Bright sunlight is all around us, the long days that help us feel energetic and in a good mood reach their widest stretch today. Sorry to be a party-pooper, but that does mean it’s downhill to Christmas from here! But office lighting for efficiency can be achieved with very little disruption. Read on to find out how.

The good news, however, is that there is plenty of time to ensure that the office lighting is optimised to maintain the summer mojo long into the winter months. Good artificial lighting creates pleasant working conditions both functionally and to create atmosphere. There are countless reports available highlighting the improvements in satisfaction and efficiency achievable by your working teams when they have enough daylight intake and a well-lit office space. Productivity is a natural by-product of good mood and efficiency so even the FD will be happy with the net effect. Artificial light doesn’t just help us to see, but additionally meets biological lighting needs, is the future of the office lighting brief.

Creating atmospheres conducive to augmenting ideas.

As mammals are addicted to light! There is nothing that has a bigger impact and influence on our bodies as light. And studies suggest that the need and desire for natural light can be replaced with the artificial with no drop in efficacy.

Research from the Light Right Consortium concluded that only 70% of office-based employees from their cohort were comfortable with downward lighting in the office.  91% of this same sample found a lighting space with direct and indirect lighting and a high quantity of vertically lit surfaces pleasing. The best results came from employees able to individually manage the lighting at their desk and console.

Lighting for the employee

Our light intake is responsible for sleeping and feeling unwell thus having a direct correlation on productivity. Where the vast majority of office workers are based indoors, spending their entire day inside, we are not achieving a fundamental biological requirement for the human body. With a lack of natural light to help us tell the time of day, our circadian rhythm, our body clock, loses its sensitivity and we are thrown out of sync. The outcome is confusion and tiredness overcoming us at unexpected times. This biological response can also be used for the good of the business, as anyone who has visited Vas Vegas will have experienced. Lighting, pumped oxygen and air conditioning confuses the body completely with no ability to know what time of the day it is at any point of the 24-hour cycle!

Spending most of our lives in manmade surroundings requires an input to maintain the basic human needs, the pillars upon which human life was created. Adapting office lighting to the daytime and season as well as to the individual will help. Light vertical surfaces such as walls to create a sense of space and depth. Create lighting spaces to draw the eye away from the computer screen. We all know we should take a break from the screen at the very most every 20 minutes, but does anyone actually adhere to this best practice?

Being constantly surrounded by light inspires, attracts, sets the mood, encourages communication and shapes experience. Imagine a theatre production without lighting or a restaurant in darkness (OK, so this is actually a thing…. But it makes the experience about the lack of light) or a nightclub without effect lighting.

Taking this back to the office space and we know that a great office build expresses and projects identity, corporate values and company standards. Lighting in this projection is as important as the spotlight on the actor with the opening line of Hamlet, ‘Who’s there?’

So yes, lighting can affect efficiency, but great lighting can also create a sense of space. The same room lit in different ways will absolutely change the perceived size of the room. Where a large space equals quality business and in turn encourages the recipient of a quote to trust the company with their work, the lighting could be responsible for more than good eye health and a positive body clock rhythm!

Hot Desking and best office lighting solutions to affect efficiency

Businesses with a hot desk or co-desk policies must enable the employees to alter the lighting of their chosen space to suit them.  Everyone’s requirements are different, but the design of an office can support this difference. Make the most of natural light, placing desks in as much natural light as possible- supported of course by adjustable blind options. Enable as many desks as possible to have a view to outside. Consider desk lamps to counter any effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Light therapy makes people feel more awake and energised. Most workspaces are lit to 500 lux. Studies have found that illumination that goes up to 2000 lux in the morning and again in the mid-afternoon reduce the physiological reactions of stress and give an energising effect to the body.  A simple downloadable lux app will give you a rough idea of the values at your desk.

Not just the Quality but the Colour too

The colour and temperature of light also play a part in light dynamics. Artificial light corresponds to the colour temperature of the daylight surrounding us in order to aid the body clock’s controlled rhythm. Take the light at noon versus at dusk. Photographers call the hour as the sun rises as the hour before it sets the golden hour. Colour temperature is conventionally expressed in kelvins, using the symbol K, a unit of measure for absolute temperature. With the light at the end of the day measuring 2000K and at noon, a cool 10000K, the variation across this scale is pretty vast. Colour temperatures over 5000 K are called “cool colours” (bluish white), while lower colour temperatures (2700–3000 K) are called “warm colours” (yellowish white through red).


If your office is stretched on a deadline and the team are working late into the night, light can play a huge role in biological and effectiveness terms. As the shift lengthens into dusk and beyond, increase the light intensity and the quality of the bluish white light in the room. Towards the end of the shift, tone down the setting to a much warmer note and lower the intensity slowly to avoid the lighting equivalent of having ad 3 double espressos before trying to get to sleep.  The high blue level of backlit screens on computers, tablets, laptops and phones as the natural light lowers through an evening causes the body clock to swerve from its natural rhythm. Using applications to correlate screen brightness and colour to the daylight of your location, reducing the level of blue light will help, but turning off the tech for at least an hour before attempting to sleep is a far better alternative. Time to reach for that novel you have been meaning to read for so long!

Our design and build schemes cover all aspects of the office refit from basic needs through to considerations around how lighting can affect efficiency. If you are considering an office refit, in the first instance, drop us an email or give us a call through our CONTACT US page. You can leave the kelvins to us from there on!