We know that the office environment has a substantial impact on employee productivity. In preceding years, trends in office design have come and gone. We went from cubicles to open office floor plans to the more recent open-but-not-too-open philosophy.
Numerous factors impact our creativity, happiness, and productivity. That is why companies work to manicure their offices to elicit the best out of their teams. From ping pong tables to quiet rooms, there is no expense too big to move the needle on performance.
The Connection Between Office Lighting and Productivity
Recent studies have revealed a significant connection between office lighting and productivity. The American Society of Interior Design found that 68 percent of employees are discontent with the lighting in their offices. That is an important statistic to keep in mind, because an even larger number may not even be aware that the light in their offices is impacting them in any way.
But the connection between lighting and depression, lighting and creativity, and lighting and overall productivity is significant.
“The sterile, bright office lights that are so common in the corporate world are terrible for mental health,” asserts Guillaume Vidal, CEO of Green Creative. “The degree to which you can fabricate natural light in an office is invaluable. It can transform the workplace from a cold, unnatural place, to a warm, inviting space for creativity and collaboration.”
These are three things business owners need to know about office lighting:
Stress is an intractable problem in every company. The good news is, the human body naturally copes with stress by emitting cortisol, sometimes called the ‘stress hormone’. When circumstances pressure the mind into difficult decisions and panic begins to set in, cortisol rushes to the rescue and normalizes our responses.
The problem is, artificial light reduces our cortisol levels. Suddenly narratives from the movie Office Space begin to make more sense. When we are deprived of our natural cure for stress, we act erratically. There are tens of thousands of offices that are all but designed to damage our stress management just by virtue of their lighting.
“New technology in lighting is completely changing the office environment to be less stress inducing,” says Cole Zucker, co-CEO at Green Creative. “Now there are panels that include glare control diffusers, which make light soft and natural.”
It goes without saying that harsh, bright lights damage productivity by making us depressed and stressed out. But science suggests that there is a type of light that boosts our productivity, and that is cool light.
Light is measured in Kelvins, and what we are calling cool light can be anywhere between 4,000K to 7,000K. For perspective, a campfire might be around 2,000K.
But control also matters. Many companies are creating personalized controls for each employee. That means that those who like brighter light can get their work done in an environment more conducive to their own productivity without forcing their neighbor to endure the same experience. Customization is key.
Be More Alert
Of course we know light has had a profound impact on human evolution. We do not have good eyesight in the dark and as a result many of our customs and evolved behaviors are impacted by the changing of day to night and night to day. Investigating your office environment to ensure you are not accidentally putting your employees to sleep is important.
“There is a strong link between light and circadian rhythms, sometimes called our ‘built-in-clocks’,” says Vidal. “Triggers in our environment can cause us to fall out of step with our built-in-clocks that tell us to wake up at 6 a.m. and go to bed at 10 p.m. Office lighting that does not mimic natural light properly can have your employees falling asleep at two in the afternoon without any warning.”
When your whole team is alert, fewer mistakes are made, more work gets done, and everyone is more creative. All of that is the outcome of better lighting.
Small businesses employ the largest percentage of American workers and command the largest number of offices. It is important to invest in small innovations in order to keep the workforce healthy and productive. Founders and executives who are looking for investments they can make this year to enhance their teams should look outside the box for solutions.
Office Lights Photo via Shutterstock