People often ask me how much light they need – and how they will know.
Just like a calorie count, we’re all different. But there are some baselines, just like the 2,000 calorie or the ’five a day’ rules that are a good place to start. Getting enough light can help with eye strain, reduce back pain and boost productivity – and even help you to handle the post-lunch dip.
𝑺𝒐 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒅𝒐𝒆𝒔 ‘𝒆𝒏𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝒍𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕’ 𝒍𝒐𝒐𝒌 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆?
You can’t trust your eyes because they adapt to a change in light level within seconds – just as when you drive into a tunnel on a bright sunny day.
Luckily there are lots of free phone apps that can help (check out the link below)
Free light meter apps: LEDVANCE Lux-O-Meter, Light Meter – Lux Meter
Wearable light sensor by Lys Technologies
Hold your camera next to your eye so it ‘sees’ what you see and move your head and move around the room – you might be surprised what you find.
500 lux or units of brightness is the baseline recommendation for office work, so aim for that and aim for more or less depending on what’s comfortable for you.
Here’s an article from Nature on how light illuminance and colour temperature can affect your well-being in the office – Effect of lighting illuminance and colour temperature on mental workload in an office setting
Daylight is usually much brighter than that 500 lux baseline – plus it’s free!
So sit close to the window – add sheer curtains or Venetian blinds if you struggle with glare. I have a low-glare screen cover and mounted my monitor on an arm so I can move it as the sun changes direction through the day.
Position your desk sideways to the window if you can:
1. If you face the window, the contrast with the screen will be too high and you will strain your eyes and neck as you lean into the monitor to read
2. If you have your back to the window, your you will cast a shadow and create reflections on the screen which will put a strain on your eyes and neck too.
A bright source behind you will leave your face in deep shadow on video calls which is a pain in the neck too!
Here are some tips from CIBSE on office and building lighting – Top Tips 2 – Lighting in buildings (2015) (webpage)
Ps/ I’ve just bought a desk on wheels and a separate webcam so I can shift everything around – small change, big difference!
How do you know…?
If the lights give you eye strain?
1/ Take a photo from your seat and check…
Reflections on your screen? Glare from a window? Screen too dim to see – or so bright it’s causing strain?
1. Tackle screen reflections with an anti-glare cover, and check contrast settings on the monitor
2. Add sheer curtains or horizontal slat blinds to the windows (‘Venetian’ style)
3. Add balancing lights- a strip or a panel above, or task lights on either side will help
4. Check your screen resolution, increase the type size and experiment with different colours
but you might just be spending too much time on a screen.
Here’s an article from Sage Pub to help us understand better – Computer Vision Syndrome
You blink less often which leads to dry eyes and blurry vision
It’s hard to tell with the naked eye, but digital displays often have low-level flicker and poor resolution which puts even more strain on your eyes, this study by TCL Journal – Contrast and font affect reading speeds of adolescents with and without a need for language-based learning support
You switch attention on average every 47 seconds which doesn’t help according to this study from CHI – Neurotics Can’t Focus: An in situ Study of Online Multitasking in the Workplace
I’m switching off the computer to get on with some real work! Here’s why –
Doing Nothing Can Make You More Productive, an article from Time.
If spending more money on lights is a good investment? 3:30:300 rule might help…. For every $3 you spend on electricity you spend $30 on overheads and $300 on people.
So it’s worth focusing your efforts on the things that help your people to be healthier and happier, want to work for you – and then want to stay A surprising way to cut real estate costs
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) analyzed the economic benefits related to energy savings, compared to the economic benefits related to health and productivity based on WELL Building Standard performance thresholds – light, ventilation etc. This case study showed that for every $1 spent on upgrading the lighting – (fluorescent to LED, task lighting and lighter surfaces to reduce glare and contrast) there was a $2.8 return when savings from energy and improved productivity were taken into account – Healthy Buildings Initiative: Pacifc Northwest National Laboratory Pilot Study It notes of course that productivity gains are hard to measure and has taken the most probable figure in the range.
Can you narrow down the effect to the lighting?
And another survey by office supply company Staples found that The Harsh Reality of UK Office Lighting, The Business Case for Healthy Buildings
80% of employees say ‘good lighting in my workspace is important’
40% ‘deal with uncomfortable lighting every day’
32%‘better lighting would make me happier at work’
Even if you’re not sure if it’s the lighting that counts, your offices are part of your employer brand, which is worth its weight in gold. According to LinkedIn – The Ultimate List of Employer Brand Statistics For Hiring Managers, HR Professionals, and Recruiters , Deloitte – The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion The Millennial Influence and Career Builder – Exclusive Insights From 2017 Candidate Experience Study
• 50% reduction in cost per hire
•50% more qualified applicants.
•75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying
•78% of candidates say the overall candidate experience they get is an indicator of how a company values its people
I’m looking forward to tuning into this event with the team from IWBI – Introducing the 2023 IWBI-Harris State of Workforce Well-being Poll
Don’t mow the lawn – it’s world earth day!
You may be surprised to know that encouraging biodiversity might just hold the key to slowing climate change. According to the UN, about one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed in the next decade could be achieved by improving nature’s ability to absorb emissions – How is climate change affecting biodiversity?
Just leaving your lawn to be a natural habitat can boost the range of plants in your garden – let alone the bees and other pollinators that will enjoy a varied diet – and give you time to smell the roses! Mow problem: gardeners encouraged not to cut lawns in May , Plantlife’s No Mow May is an inspiring read…