Are Productivity and Morale Down in Your Office? Take a Look at Your Lights

Are your office lights draining employees will to work? Does fatigue set-in during the afternoon? Poor lighting can directly impact workers health and productivity.

As a business owner or operator, your ability to maintain a competitive edge hinges on worker productivity and morale. If you have noticed an uptick in employee sick days or lackluster performance, it is time to swing into action and make some workplace adjustments. Lighting and productivity can go hand-in hand.

One of the most effective measures you can take is to take a look at your lighting. The path to a thriving workplace begins with lighting that is designed to maximize visibility while minimizing eye strain. Below is a look at the signs that you need to improve your lighting and some suggestions to help you transform workforce behavior through ergonomic improvements.

How can the wrong lighting negatively impact employee performance?

“According to our recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. The economic consequences of this global “norm” are approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity.”

– Jim Harter, Gallup

The wrong lighting is one of a collection of factors that can cause employees to become disengaged at work. Disengaged employees consistently underperform at work, preventing businesses from meeting or exceeding goals. A recent report by Gallup estimates that lost productivity costs $7 trillion.

What are some signs that your current lighting is counterproductive?

Spotting problems that are caused by incorrect lighting is not always easy. Employees do not always realize that the wrong lighting is contributing to health problems and poor performance. The process starts with awareness of the physical symptoms that can develop when the wrong workplace lighting is used. Here are some signs that suggest your lighting is negatively impacting productivity.

1) Eye discomfort 

A growing number of workers who experience eye discomfort are being diagnosed with photophobia. The condition often develops due to overexposure to light. Excessive exposure to fluorescent light and glare are culprits that can worsen this condition.

2) A rise in headaches

The National Headache Foundation lists fluorescent lighting as a primary trigger for migraine headaches. Overexposure to fluorescent lighting can also lead to the development of other types of headaches such as tension headaches and cluster headaches.

3) Employee complaints

“A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design indicated that 68 percent of employees complain about the lighting situation in their offices…The two most common scenarios for poor office lighting are lights that are too dim and lights that are too harsh.”

– Andrew Jensen, Sozo Firm Inc.

Sometimes workplace lighting is so counterproductive that employees actually voice their complaints about it. This is a serious red flag that your lighting is impacting performance. If you receive multiple complaints about the lights in your office, it is time to reevaluate your current lighting and make the necessary adjustments.

4) Increased absenteeism

Failure to address lighting-related problems can ultimately lead to a gradual increase in the number of sick days employees take. Productivity is also interrupted when employees need to leave the workplace to visit the doctor or seek treatment for headaches and eye strain.

5) Stagnant sales 

“In 1993 a new Wal-mart building was erected in Oklahoma. It was designed with half daylighting via skylights in one half of the building. Sales tracking later showed that ‘sales pressure (sales per square foot)’ was significantly higher for those departments located in the day-lit half of the store.”

– Anthea Court, MBA, The Joanna Briggs Institute

The type of lighting used in the workplace can significantly impact employee sales performance. Specifically, research shows that sales produced by employees who work under artificial lighting pale in comparison to sales produced by employees who work under natural lighting.

6) Poor energy efficiency

High energy bills are often a sign that you are using the wrong type of lighting. While fluorescent lights are more energy efficient than their predecessors, The State Department of Michigan notes that “not all fluorescent lamps are energy efficient and cost effective.” Additionally, lower efficiency fluorescent lights such as standard T-12 lamps have poor color rendition and cause eye strain.

7) Increased risk of cancer among night shift workers

“Several studies over the last decade have suggested that the modern practice of keeping our bodies exposed to artificial light at night, or LAN, increases cancer risk, especially for cancers (such as breast and prostate cancers) that require hormones to grow…Women who work night shifts have shown higher rates of breast cancer.”

– Angela Spivey, Environmental Health Perspectives

Over 15 percent of blue-collar workers and more than 7 percent of white-collar workers work the evening or night shift. Researchers point to prolonged exposure to artificial light as a risk factor for some types of cancers among employees who work at night.

What are some steps you can take to improve your office environment?

You can help avoid the pitfalls outlined above by making some ergonomic adjustments to your lighting and other elements of your office environment. Here are five steps you can take to help create a healthier, more productive work environment.

coworkers-collaborating-on-project-at-desk-with-monitors-and-natural-light-through-wide-windows

1) Maximize employee exposure to natural light

The path to improved workplace health and performance begins with increased exposure to natural light. While this might not be possible in buildings that lack windows or skylights, other workplaces can make some simple adjustments to enable employees to maximize their exposure to natural daylight. Some of these possible steps are as follows:

  • Position cubicles and workstations as close as possible to windows
  • Consider installing skylights to allow natural light to shine through
  • Ask employees who work in perimeter offices to keep their blinds open
  • Encourage employees to venture outside during breaks and lunches
  • Strategically position mirrors throughout the office area to reflect sunlight

2) Allow employees with offices to turn off fluorescent lights

“Turn off any fluorescent lights under your control where possible and bask in sunlight instead—and maybe consider a little CBD oil at night to help you drift off and stay asleep.”

– Rick Hemingway, Civilized Life

Some business owners are unaware that there are lighting guidelines outlined by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration). The lighting experts with Make Great Light note that OSHA requires that a work environment be “specifically organized to reduce glare and excessive lighting, which can result in eye strain and headaches.” Business owners are responsible for knowing that there are minimum standards for lighting that must be met.

Allowing employees who have their own individual workspaces to control their lighting is a simple but effective way to minimize the brightness and glare of fluorescent lights. Supplemental task lighting is a good addition, and you may wish to honor employees’ requests to use their own lamps at work.

3) Enhance existing light diffusers with light filters

Installing light diffusers is a simple process that can reduce the brightness and glare of fluorescent lights. The process involves removing the existing light panel and installing the diffuser that you select. Today’s diffusers are typically installed with light fixtures and are available in a wide array of different types, including prismatic lenses and parabolic louvers. Light filters are easy to add and work in conjunction with diffusers. They offer a cost-effective means of improving office lighting.

4) Consider Delamping 

Delamping is a process that involves reducing the amount of light emitted per square foot in your office. It is a more labor-intensive process than installing light diffusers because you need to remove a diffuser and carefully remove individual bulbs or fixtures to reduce light intensity. If not properly undertaken, delamping can lead to improper light distribution.

Delamping is an effective means of abiding by OSHA guidelines and other safety standards. You can approach the delamping process by evaluating your fixtures and disconnecting a specified number of lamps. For example, if a workspace features ten fixtures that each contain 3 lamps per fixture, you can disconnect one lamp per fixture to help reduce glare.

5) Think about a change in space or location

If you are one of the millions of business owners that leases or rents space, now is a good time to explore facilities that have many windows and/or skylights. You can start close to home by asking your property manager if there are any other workspaces available at an affordable rate. You may even discover that you will save money on rent along the way!

What is the single best step you can take to boost productivity?

The strategies outlined above can help provide some welcome relief to specific areas of your office. However, the single best step you can take to improve your work environment is to install advanced natural light filters on all of your lights. Here are some of the many benefits of this innovative workplace solution:

  • Ease of installation: Unlike delamping, which is labor-intensive, installing natural light filters can be easily managed by one person
  • Versatility: Naturalux light filters are compatible with fluorescent lights and LED lights. They can easily be cut to match your light size.
  • Affordability: With pricing starting under $30.00 per filter, you can update lights throughout your entire workspace at a low rate
  • Stellar reviews: Customers who use the filters are typically delighted, yielding a five-star average product rating
  • Durability: Naturalux light filters are constructed with high-quality materials and are designed to stand the test of time

The Bottom Line

Lighting plays a critical role in workplace performance. Using the wrong type of lighting can lead to an increase in headaches, eye discomfort, and increased absenteeism due to health challenges. Selecting the wrong lighting can also negatively impact sales performance and increase energy costs, hampering your company’s bottom line.

Fortunately, NaturaLux™ fluorescent light covers can help stop these productivity-killers from sabotaging employee performance and preventing your company from maintaining its competitive edge. We invite you to contact us at Make Great Light to see the difference our NaturaLux™ fluorescent light covers can make on your work environment. We look forward to helping you maximize productivity at your office!

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