Best lighting for office productivity

Did you know good lighting can improve the productivity of office staff?

As we know, there are a number of different factors that can affect an office worker’s productivity, and as a business person looking at key performance indicators, you’ll be looking to optimise productivity by optimising the various factors that influence it. 

And the easiest of these to control has to be the office lighting. Setting the right ambiance in the room can very easily enhance employee alertness, engagement, well-being, and in turn, employee productivity.

In this article, we’re going to look at this correlation between office lighting and productivity, then we’ll tackle the effects of different types of lighting, concentrating on LED lighting. Then we’ll zoom in on what exactly is the best level of brightness, before turning our attention to energy efficiency and energy-saving lighting. We’ll then leave you with a brief conclusion and summary.

Correlation between office lighting and productivity 

Every time you’ve left a dull, unlit room and stepped out into bright sunlight you feel already improved, and better able to face whatever lies ahead. And the good news is that you can bring this effect right into the office space. 

This correlation between office lighting is a well-known and well-researched phenomenon. Participants in such research consistently reported that improved lighting has a noticeable and very positive impact.

The lighting in an office, or indeed anywhere, impacts a person’s circadian rhythms, and this in turn impacts not just their physical health but also their overall mood. 

And feeling at your best helps you to work at your best. When an employee is alert and energised by the surrounding lighting, (all other things remaining equal) they inevitably perform at their best. 

Before getting into the nitty-gritty about what sort of lighting to have installed, it’s certainly worth noting at this point that you should aim to allow as much natural light into the office as possible. 

Access to natural daylight is what keeps our natural circadian rhythms ticking over, and helps keep us physically and mentally healthy. 

This can mean deliberately selecting an office with lots of windows and/or a skylight.

LED versus other types of lights

The first thing you’ll have to think about when planning the office lighting is what type of lights to invest in. 

Traditionally many offices used to make do with cheap fluorescent lighting. But, thankfully, that’s pretty much a thing of the past. Lights that flicker the way fluorescent lights do are no good at all for employee health and are even thought by some to trigger migraines and such. 

LED lights are fast becoming a very firm favourite alternative for office lighting. Yes, they are slightly more expensive, but they last much longer than their counterparts and are quite energy efficient (more on that later). 

In fact, some LED lights can have a staggering 34 years lifespan, whereas, an incandescent light may last just 1.4 years. 

But that’s not all – LED lights can also be dimmed to better coincide with more natural lighting, to improve employee circadian rhythms and overall health.

What is the correct brightness? 

Getting the perfect brightness can be a little tricky. Too dim a light will strain employee’s eyes and/or make them tired or drowsy. And on the flip side, too bright a light can be harsh on employee’s eyes, mess with their sleep pattern, and bring about nasty headaches. 

The brightness of a laptop or desktop monitor is nowhere near the brightness of the sun, so rather than rely on natural lighting, what you need is a more controlled environment whereby the intensity of the daylight (on a good day) is made more diffuse so that the screen remains comfortable to read. 

The recommended level of light in an office for optimum productivity is 300 to 500 lumens. This level of brightness can be very easily achieved with a range of different bulb wattages. Eco Lighting Specialists recommend 18-30-watt bulbs. 

The reason we cannot provide a more exact figure is because different offices have different levels of shadow imposed in different areas. 

It is also very important to consider what is known as the light temperature. Generally speaking, a warmer yellow or orange-like light can induce feelings of calmness and relaxation. 

In contrast, however, a cooler blue or white light can be far more invigorating and can help employees to engage and concentrate on the task at hand. 

To be specific, the recommended colour temperature for office productivity is around 4000K, which is the best colour temperature for mimicking natural daylight.

Best energy-saving lights 

We all want to protect our environment, keep our carbon footprint as low as possible, and if possible, save as much money as possible on utility and energy bills. And to that end, we have to recommend energy-efficient lights, as these will save both energy, in the form of electricity, and therefore the cost of the bill.

LED lights are a great example of energy-saving lights. And LED converts over 90% of the energy it receives into light and emits very little heat. This means it needs less energy to produce the same amount of light as a traditional bulb. 

A further option to consider when choosing energy-saving lighting is motion-sensor lights. Such lights only come on when motion is detected. These are particularly handy for rooms that see less use, and only need to come on periodically on an ad-hoc basis.


So, to sum up, while achieving the perfect office lighting can be tricky, it can certainly be achieved, and better yet improve not only employee health and well being, but also their productivity too. 

The real key to getting the lighting just right lies in mimicking natural sunlight as much as is possible. This means thinking about what types of lights to use, where to set up the lights, how many lumens (brightness), and colour temperature. 

The simplest and easiest way to achieve this (if you don’t have a skylight) is to opt for LED lighting. Not only do you get the best kind of lighting, but you also get long-lasting and energy-saving lighting to boot!

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