What effect does lighting colour have in the office?
Getting the lighting right in your office is one of the cornerstones of your office design.
Lighting considerations for different office spaces
Many offices have standardised lighting schemes designed to suit any function and as such can be underwhelming. If your lighting has been designed to support function it will likely create a more interesting and engaging environment, it will have spaces that are brighter – desktops, and those that don’t need as much illumination – corridors, it will have spaces that require feature lighting – receptions and meeting areas, and spaces where you don’t really want to be aware of anything but the light itself – office areas.
It is often taken for granted but lighting will have a huge effect on your workspace, and therefore on anyone using it. Both the intensity and the colour of the light will have an impact, and designers carefully select fittings for effect and to comply with building regulations. Clearly, while the overall impression and ambience of your workspace won’t ever be wholly down to the lighting itself, its influence should certainly not be underestimated.
Poor quality lighting can affect your employees health
It is certainly true that poor-quality lighting can be responsible for health issues too; migraines, sore eyes, fatigue and even insomnia can be caused by lighting that is either ‘too bright’, ‘not bright enough’, ‘too cold’ or ‘too warm’. Getting it right is vital and getting it wrong can be costly, not only in productivity but also in terms of illness and resulting sick days. You may have realised that your office lighting needs attention, but the big question is what should you do?
Matching your office lighting to natural daylight has great benefits
In general, office lighting should be as close to natural daylight as possible. Lighting is measured in two ways; firstly, light levels are measured in Lux and lighting colour is measured in Kelvins. Natural daylight is c4000 Kelvin and your worktop should be illuminated to c. 500Lux. LED lighting with the right operating system is very easily moderated for colour and intensity, and it is also good for the planet as it draws very little power. Daylight is actually a different colour at the beginning, middle and end of the day, and there are now systems that track this change making your artificial lighting mimic natural daylight.
Known as Human Centric Lighting, these intelligent lighting solutions promote wellbeing, productivity, and general good mood. It must be said, though, that 4000 Kelvin (white light) is best for productivity and 3000 Kelvin (warm light) best for relaxing. The science behind this is that the warmer the lighting colour, the more relaxed we feel. It makes us produce more melatonin, a hormone that can be used to improve sleep. As a result, warm lighting is best deployed in waiting rooms, social spaces, relaxation areas and kitchens. White light can help to improve concentration and keep your employees awake and alert, but if it goes too cool it can have a negative impact on their nervous systems over time. White lighting is therefore beneficial in meeting rooms and areas where ideas are shared and problems are solved. Above all, it’s recommended not to combine warm with cool lighting as this will create an uncomfortable space to dwell.
Summary by Carol Chinn
Carol Chinn, Design Partner at The Workspace Consultants, believes that lighting colour should be at the forefront of every office designer’s mind. ‘When we embark on an office design project, we undertake workspace analysis to enable us to understand how every space will be used,’ comments Carol. ‘Once we have a detailed brief, the creative process can begin and this will include evaluating the lighting and proposing a scheme to support the overall design. A design can only be as good as its component parts and lighting is as important as the architecture of the space, the finishes and the furniture. The overall budget needs to be managed to make sure we aren’t missing anything out, and you can be sure that the best schemes will always have great lighting.’