Working From Home
Posted by Arianna Ghezzi on 21 Apr 2020
The quality of light is essential in an office environment, and now, during these uncertain times, most of us have had a change in our work environment and are working remotely from home.
The quality of lighting in our workspace can help increase our productivity while poor lighting can reduce our performances, energy, dampen morale and have an impact on our wellbeing, causing headaches, eye distress and tiredness.
We need to keep in mind the amount and type of lighting can affect concentration, appetite, sleep cycle, mood, and many other aspects of daily life. Being aware of this impact on the human body can make one rethink their entire space.
The design of our domestic environment is not to be a workplace. They might lack natural daylight, so the artificial lights are essential factors which we should consider improving in our new workspaces.
Some of us have the luxury of a home office, but for many, it's just a spot at our living room table, and we should look at the opportunities to make it comfortable and ensure the artificial light can compensate for the daylight if this is proved inadequate.
A few suggestions below from a Lighting Designer:
- Position your desk close to daylight
Many types of research have confirmed that natural light is the top perk any employee can get in an office, and even seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can be minimised by being exposed to natural sunlight. It gets more challenging to stay alert and be productive on those days when the sun is not shining, or the blue sky is instead gloomy or cloudy.
Therefore, what can we do at home to improve the natural light?
- Keep the curtains open and think about layers of coloured sheers (thin fabric) to bring some cheerfulness into your house, by lighting through these lighter colour curtains.
- How is your desk positioned against the window? Your work may be harder to focus on because the light from the window backlights your desktop and computer, it is best if a window is to your left if you're right-handed, and to youright if you're left-handed.
- The changing view outside the window can prove inspirational, or at least help to boost your creativity and allow your brain to take a break between tasks. Looking outside will also help to feel connected to the outside world and appreciate the nature still blooming, even during the lockdown when everything seems on hold.
2. Improve your artificial lighting
Many offices have lighting that includes overhead low glare pendants or recessed ceiling lights, but it is a mistake to think that those will suffice. Existing ambient lighting at home is often not designed for functional lighting as a home office, and it is necessary to add additional sources.
A few tips below:
- The best atmosphere is created by balancing direct and indirect lighting.
- Should your desk not face a window or the centre of the room, consider lighting the wall opposite. Vertical surface illumination on large wall surfaces will help to create a sense of space and depth. By using soft, warm colours for the lighting, we will create a visual resting point for the eyes and introducing a feature into the domestic space, which will help to improve the overall design of the room.
- If possible, make sure the light is dimmable and potentially take advantage of the new technologies, such as tuneable white light sources. It is important to consider the light should not only be subject to the task we are doing, but also to the human body and how we perceive and how we are influenced by the colour temperatures.
Synchronising the light to the circadian rhythm affects our sleep-wake cycle and can impact our health and productivity.
Many products available on the market are now presenting the capability of tuning the colour temperatures. This can be done either by synchronising them on a time clock to emulate the natural colour shifting present in nature or simply tuning them locally if the light fixture has a local dimmer.
To better understand how to replicate the natural circadian rhythm with the artificial light, we need to consider that during the day, light intensities outside can reach illuminances up to 100,000 lx in direct sunlight and 25,000 lx in full daylight. The light intensities achieved in closed rooms are much lower, and standard office lighting is only 400-500 lx. During the day, light shifts from the blue-spectrum in the morning towards a warmer spectrum during the late afternoon, when the body should start to relax and prepare to sleep.
- Introduce into your workplace a desk lamp: it will provide "task lighting" with a focused beam. I would recommend a decorative fitting to illuminate with minimal glare. Whilst working, the architectural lights within our room can be reduced to a level appropriate for the computer work while the work surfaces can then be supplemented with task lighting from desk lights while we sketch or write notes.
- Lastly, try to set different lighting moods for your working area and the rest of your home. This will help you to draw boundaries between your working and private life, helping to switch off the brain and relax.
The lighting tips we have shared can help improve your working from home environment and make you fully appreciate how important and vital lighting is. Proper lighting can influence our everyday experience positively.