It feels like every day we’re being bombarded with new ways to boost our productivity at work. There are a lot of actions we can take to support our own productivity levels, but it doesn’t just stop with us. As humans, we tend to become a product of our environment – the workplace is absolutely no exception! This is why it should be a priority for employers to consider certain design elements when creating an office or workspace that maximises productivity. As lighting and lighting control is “our thing” we see many new and innovative trends that are emerging across the globe in terms of comfort, or the new buzz word for that: Wellness…
Consider the type of work that will be done
Above all, a workspace should be functional for the type of work that needs to be done within it. For example, a creative office that relies heavily on team collaboration will thrive in an open plan space where workers can easily interact throughout the day. Lighting open plan spaces can be generically even (read “bland”) or can be setup to be flexible so that task lighting can be used for individuals. Larger spaces can be lit evenly and changed to give way to more intense focus areas as required. “Plan reading” area’s, in one of Perth’s skyscrapers that houses a mining company that we worked on, has the ability to building the lighting level up very high to suit the sometimes minuscule details… With my eyes getting old, the lighting level for me is certainly much more affective if higher.
Allow areas for casual and formal meetings
Regardless of the kind of work being conducted in a space, it is important to have dedicated areas for different types of meetings, and by extrapolation the lighting to suit. Just as a law firm needs private meeting rooms, they also need a more casual space that allows colleagues to mingle and recharge their batteries, share tasks and information so that they can be more productive. The opposite is true for more creative, collaborative offices – a private, sound proof meeting space is still necessary for certain projects and tasks. As most office spaces have rarely “one sole purpose” – the need for flexible lighting levels, flexible highlights or focus points and flexible control that can be easily and intuitively set by the untrained end user is paramount.
Lighting does more than just allow us to see what we’re doing while we work. It has the power to change the way we feel within a space and the way our brains respond, which ultimately affects our ability to work comfortably and efficiently.
Ideally, natural light should be utilised wherever possible in the workplace using windows, skylights and reflective surfaces. One system we designed here in Perth allowed to measure the outside sunlight path and control the blinds so that at no time could direct sunlight enter the space that was full of computer monitors. Natural light is very welcome, direct sunlight can be too much. Because office workers are usually restricted to being indoors all day, access to natural light will allow them to maintain connection with the outside world and regulate their circadian rhythm. There’s nothing worse than arriving to the office early in the morning before sunrise, tackling a busy day and heading home after the sun has gone down! This pattern can be detrimental to our sleep patterns and overall health.
When access to natural light is limited or not possible, research has shown that cooler artificial light makes us more alert and productive in the workplace. Implementing a good lighting control system will allow you to find the perfect balance between natural and artificial light using intelligent sensor technology.
Consulting with a lighting specialist is worthwhile to get advice on how to use light creatively in a space to make it more visually appealing. For example, many artistic light installations in the Perth Children’s Hospital were created to raise the spirits of patients, visitors and shift workers who are spending most of their day in an otherwise very clinical space. As an example, Lighting levels in the radiography suites are adjustable to help calm and relax nervous children (and their parents). When the Children’s Hospital was being built we provided mock up panels to demonstrate “patient” controlled colour changing… Certainly, if I was to lie in bed all day, I’d love to have some control over my surrounds, even if it is just the ability to set the decorative lighting colours of my room to show my mood.
Incorporate natural elements
Humans have a natural affinity for nature. Being in nature helps us feel calmer, clearer in our minds and more relaxed. Therefore, it only makes sense to bring more natural elements into the workspace.
This recent report by Forest and Wood Products Australia revealed that exposure to biophilic design elements such as natural light, plants, nature views, and water features can result in an increase in productivity by 8% and overall well-being by 13%. Cultivating this connection with nature in the workplace helps workers feel happier and more satisfied at work and builds positive associations with their workplace.
The report also shares the results of a survey revealing that only 59% of workers are satisfied with their workplace’s physical environment. Given that our environment plays such a vital role in our overall level of comfort, happiness and productivity, it is well worth taking steps to provide a workspace that is healthy, functional and aesthetically pleasing. Wellbeing will be the new goal of holistic design, watch this space for new intelligent lighting regimes that help maximise how “well” we are being!
For more information on how Light application can help advise on setting up your control systems feel free to Contact us!