How Much Light Should You Have in a Workplace Environment?


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A recent survey discovered that the number one perk desired by employees is having access to natural light and a view of the outdoors, winning out over benefits like at work childcare, pet-friendly workplaces, and an on-site gym.

Why do people feel so strongly about the quality of light in a workplace environment? Is there any science to help us understand this desire?

It turns out that access to natural light can have a beneficial impact on worker productivity, wellbeing, and quality of life. If you’re designing an office space or evaluating a new employer, considering the amount of window light or use of natural light lamps could improve the quality of work produced and the quality of your worker’s lives!

So how much light should we have in the workplace environment? Come with me and let’s see what recent studies have found!

How Much Light Should You Have in a Workplace Environment?

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has requirements for workplace lighting in order to protect workers’ from accidents and eye strain.

The three types of required lighting are general lighting, task lighting, and emergency lighting. OSHA measures the amount of light in units known as candle-feet.

In an office, you are required to have 30 candle-feet of general lighting, meaning light that is evenly spread throughout a workspace.

If your office has a particular area for the accomplishment of a specific task, you’re required to have task lighting, meaning focused lighting. This allows workers to accomplish tasks without injuring themselves and without eyestrain.

Emergency lighting is for occasions when the regular power sources aren’t working. It will light the paths of walkways and exits to allow workers to safely exit the workplace.

The Study of Light in the Workplace

Okay, so now we know about the required amount of light in the workplace, how much you must have so your workers aren’t stumbling around dangerously and unproductively. But all light isn’t created equal, and several recent studies and surveys have delved into the world of office lighting to study light and determine how natural light affects the workplace environment.

A study at Cornell University found that the health and wellness of workers are significantly improved by optimizing natural light. They found that workplace environments with natural daylight had 56% less drowsiness, 63% fewer headaches, and 51% less eyestrain.

Another study at Northwestern University showed that working in a windowless environment has a detrimental effect on workers and their productivity. They discovered a strong correlation between the amount of a worker’s workplace daylight exposure and their overall quality of life and quality of sleep.

With 1/3 of employees stating in a survey that they feel like their workplace doesn’t have enough natural light, and almost half saying this lack of natural light makes them feel tired or very tired, it makes sense for the wellbeing of both a company and its workers to consider natural light options. Whether you use a lightwall, natural light lamps, or an office window, your employees could be happier and do better work with more access to natural light.

Incorporate Natural Light Into Your Workspace for Employee Productivity and Wellbeing

Whether you’re evaluating a new employer or designing an office, don’t let the amount of light in your office be an afterthought. Studies have shown that access to natural light impacts the quality of work and the quality of worker’s lives, while surveys indicate that natural light is the attribute of a workplace environment that workers desire the most.

Did you find this article interesting? Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more great info! Have any stories about office lighting? Let us know in the comments below!