Productivity at work

How the colour of your office lights can impact productivity

By wizu | 24 June 2020

Colour is an important part of being a human. Most of us perceive the world around us in vivid colour. Consider the world outside in the spring and summer. If you live in a location that has regular rainfall, the trees, grass and plants stay a vibrant green. Flowers bloom in a profusion of colours, and the sky overhead changes colour throughout the day. Have you ever seen a sky that’s as blue as turquoise? It’s beautiful. 

Colours impact our lives in other ways, too. In many cultures, colours take on symbolic meanings and carry specific messages. For instance, think of the red stop sign. The sign is bright red, with white letters. When you see the colour red, it makes you become more alert. On other hand, colours such as blue and green are considered to carry a more peaceful, calming message. 

Not only do the colours around us carry messages, but colour of lights in workspaces can also cause us to feel different ways, depending on the colour. For instance, some people who sit in an area with a bluish-white light feel more energised and ready to work. Others who are working in spaces with a yellowish light might feel calmer and possibly even sleepy. The colours of light can have a drastic impact on how productive or unproductive we are. 

LED Coloured Lights for Workspaces

Did you know LED lights were developed about 50 years ago? It’s a fact! They were first used as indicator lights such as in some electronics. Infrared LEDs, for instance, were used in remote controls as an indicator light. These days, however, LEDs have become a highly popular lighting choice for both home and in the workspace. 

LEDs, in recent years, have been replacing traditional light bulbs and fluorescent lights. LEDs are more energy efficient, with some lasting anywhere from 10-15 years. As they’ve evolved, LED lights have become a great way to update lighting at home or in the office.

These days, you can find programmable LED lights, which can be used to accommodate lighting to individual needs. These lights can be programmed to fit different colours, levels of dimness and more. Colours are becoming more popular, as these can be made to light interior spaces to match our circadian rhythms. 

Circadian Lighting & Humans

Have you ever noticed how the sun and its light change throughout the day? In the morning, when the sun’s first coming up the light is a warmer colour. It is usually a slightly orange colour which is very mellow and low intensity. As the sun climbs the sky and hits noon, its light is more bluish, intense, and white. Then as the sun sets, sunset takes on very orangey colours again, with low intensity. These are the colours of light that have governed humans for thousands of years. Our circadian rhythms have evolved to follow the light, so to speak. 

So, how does this affect our working day? In the warmer, low-intensity light we tend to be slower, and maybe not as alert. That happens when we get up in the morning, and then again at the end of the day. During the middle of the day, however, the higher intensity white light makes most people more alert and productive. This does vary between people—not everyone feels productive in white light. But this at least gives you a fundamental idea of how light and its colour can affect us. 

Studies have shown that artificial light, when it mimics natural sunlight, can be a healthier option for us. 

Problems with Fluorescent Lighting

In the past, many traditional offices used fluorescent lighting, which was usually a bright white. Many people are sensitive to  these fluorescent lights. These lights have been found to cause several health issues including: 

  • Eye strain
  • Intolerance of fluorescents
  • Eye pain and/or inflammation
  • Blurred/impaired visions
  • Difficult reading/focusing
  • Migraine and other types of headaches
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

Modern offices and homes are making the change from fluorescent and traditional bulbs to LED lighting. And LED lighting is being used in a variety of colours in these spaces. 

Light Colour Temperatures & How They’re Used

LED lights are measured in degrees of Kelvin. What does this mean? Let’s a look: 

2000K is very yellow, while 8000K is very blue. In many homes and offices, lighting generally falls somewhere between 2000K and 6500K. Temperatures that seem warm will fall between 2000K and 3000K—this is a warm white colour, with yellow tinges. This colour is warm, inviting, and calming. 

3100K to 4500K is cool white, which is bright and vibrant. This is often the range of lighting used in modern offices. 

4600K to 6500K is daylight, which is crisp and makes you feel invigorated. This is often used for displays, task lighting, and more. 

LED Lights in the Workplace

LEDs used in the workplace are now customisable. In fact, it’s even possible to choose the colour hex value for the colour preferred. There are apps available to control smart LED lights. In fact, it’s even possible to set up smart LED lighting that matches circadian lighting. Apps allow you to program the lights throughout the day, to follow our natural daily response to light. 

For office spaces to be productive, lighting experts recommend programming smart LED lights to around 3500K. This is a white light that is bright enough to keep everyone from feeling sleepy, but not too blue to where it can bring on tiredness and/or cause everyone to become somewhat grumpy. 

Allow Employees to Control LED Task Lighting

Another option many businesses are choosing is allowing their employees to control the brightness and colour of their smart LED lighting systems. This is best accomplished through the use of adjustable task lighting. For instance, it may be possible for each employee to control the level of light with the use of lamps that use smart LED lights. 

In fact, this has been shown to increase employee productivity and satisfaction. Each person can have as much light as they need to work comfortably, without being blinded in the process. Having control over such aspect of their work environment can go a long way to having happier and more productive workers. 

LED lighting is fast becoming the choice of modern workspaces, as well as homes. With smart LED lighting, everyone can feel more comfortable and stay more productive throughout the day.

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