You wear a lot of hats around the office, so go ahead and put on your interior designer hat for now (side note, don’t forget to bring up interior designer in your next performance review). Employees spend a lot of time in the office, so ensuring that the lighting is optimal for your team is an important consideration. In most cases, your office has a mixture of natural and artificial light to help keep the place a good working environment. While it’s easy for lighting to blend in and become something we don’t notice, it’s even easier for lighting to become a problem. Bad lighting can cause vision problems and other unhealthy side-effects for your team, so it’s important to acknowledge any complaints that surface and actively work towards finding solutions. While major decisions about lighting should be left to interior design professionals, we’ve got a few bright ideas for improving your current office lighting.
Natural light is king
This almost goes without saying, but we can’t write an article about lighting without stressing the importance of supporting natural light wherever possible. Humans have evolved as diurnal creatures — we respond well to sunlight over any other light source. Maximize your natural light. Place desks near window areas instead of conference rooms or meeting spaces.
Keep the environment a priority
There are many options for artificial light. Many of these options are both good for the environment and good for long-term maintenance costs as energy bills go down with high-efficiency bulbs. Wherever possible, keeping a small environmental footprint is a valuable goal.
Check on window shades morning and afternoon
East- and west-facing windows often need to have shades pulled due to direct sunlight. It’s always a best practice to check on west-facing window shades in the morning, especially after they may been pulled down the prior evening (when the sunset was hitting your team in the eyes). Likewise, shades in east-facing windows may be left down after bright mornings. Employees often get into a flow and forget they have blocked out the natural light, so it’s often up to someone in the office (namely you!) to be responsible for remembering that these shades can come back up once the sun is overhead and/or to watch those windows that need to be shaded in the morning and evenings.
Move around and look for bad lighting areas
Checking out the office with the intention of finding areas that are either underlit or overlit can provide you with a fresh perspective on the space. Even a few minutes of searching for problems can reveal issues that may just have been under your nose the whole time!
Ask employees if they have problems with the lighting
There are more employees than there are of you, and they also use more of the office space than you do. Take advantage of your team’s office experiences and take complaints seriously.
Correct problem areas
There are many ways to fix lighting shortcomings. Some solutions include floor lamps for underlit areas, personal desk lamps for employees that need more lighting, and shades for lights and windows that produce too much light.
While it may be the job of an interior designer to get the lighting just right at the time an office is designed, it probably falls to you to carry out the corrections that need to take place now to make sure employees can comfortably, and safely, do their jobs.