Let there be light: ergonomic lighting concepts for the office
Nothing works without light! Lighting has a huge influence on health, safety and wellbeing. But what does an optimally lit office look like? We asked someone who knows all about this: Dipl. Psych. Torsten Braun is an expert when it comes to light planning.
Mr Braun, what effect does a well-lit workplace have on us?
People work far better in an office filled with natural light. Why is that so? Light has an effect on our “inner clock” – and that applies to work as well. The body and the eye associate lightness with being awake, meaning that people are more active and don’t become tired as quickly. This phenomenon is a result of something called circadian rhythms, which govern when we sleep and wake.
What positive effects does that have on our daily work routine?
The right workstation lighting influences employees on many levels. It increases concentration and attention span, as well as improving cognitive activity. Well-lit rooms ensure that people are happier and perform better. And last but not least, the costs incurred are lower if the correct lighting is in place.
Lower costs? How can that be?
Yes, that’s right: lower costs! If your workstation is ergonomically designed with optimum lighting, so that the natural sunlight is utilised effectively in combination with energy-efficient lamps, this can contribute towards power and energy savings.
What is meant by “ergonomically correct lighting”?
The objective of ergonomically correct lighting should always be focused on the health and wellbeing of employees: an optimally designed visual environment reduces mental stress at work, supports effective vision and actions – as well as increasing cognitive processing capacity. If you can see without straining your eyes at work, your vision in your spare time will improve as a result. So you might say it even restores the quality of life for employees!
And how do you achieve ergonomically correct lighting?
This means a lighting situation that is free of glare and dark spots – in other words neither too bright nor too dark. Ergonomically correct lighting supports the visual demands of an individual. For instance that might apply to screen brightness: the ideal luminance is 100 – 150 candela per square metre. As a comparison: if you look out of the window without eye protection, you are exposed to luminance levels of up to 10 000 candela per square metre!
Can you give us some tips for setting up optimum workstation lighting?
Yes, of course. The most important points are:
1. Balanced contrasts within the field of vision
By that I mean the luminance values I referred to earlier: the areas of brightness within view must not be too uniform, but also not too contrasting.
Natural light is always preferable to artificial lighting, because sunlight contributes towards the general wellbeing of employees. Designing offices to be open and transparent ensures sufficient natural light – even for inside rooms.
3. General lighting
A ceiling light illuminates the room and provides even light distribution – an absolute must for the office! Colour temperatures of 3000 to 5000 Kelvin are recommended.
4. Direct lighting
In addition to the general, ergonomically correct lighting, the workstation area needs targeted illumination. Desk lights should illuminate an area at least the size of an A3 sheet evenly (as specified in DIN EN 5035 Part 8). The employee can decide where to position the light source: it should not be intrusive or dazzling during work.
And what about Office 4.0 – are there any special lighting concepts or trends here?
These days there are many possibilities for adapting and customising the lighting concept in an office. The technical complexity and investment requirements are manageable. Nowadays you can even get natural artificial light from the lab.
Mr Braun, thank you for the interview.
Dipl. Psych. Torsten Braun, founder of Die Lichtplaner, has spent more than 25 years designing lighting scenarios of all types. The company is made up of several planning offices that all follow the same philosophy: the emotional importance of light, and the interpretation of light planning as a communication process between humans and their environment.
Light, acoustics and climate in the office
As well as light, acoustics and climate influence people at both a physical and a psychological level. This means that poor room acoustics are responsible for increased noise and stress levels, or concentration difficulties. But the climate also contributes towards the productivity of the workforce.
Everyone has their own personal comfort temperature – what feels too hot for one person is too cold for another. With Klöber office chairs with climate technology the temperature can be transmitted directly to the sitter – at the touch of a button. It doesn’t just save heated discussions about temperature between colleagues – it also saves heating and energy costs.
Do you have any more questions or suggestions? We would be delighted to receive any feedback.