Do yourself a favour, go to your local app store and download a light meter app. It doesn’t have to be a fancy photographic level one, you’re just looking for one number. If you have a proper photography level light meter handy that will do, but it’s overkill.
Put your phone, or light meter, next to your keyboard where you normally work, set the units to Lux and take note of the number.
Now move the phone/light meter around and take note of other readings. What does it say in that corner where you like to read?
You might also like to take note of readings at various times of the day. What does it say when you are on the early shift in October?
There are recommendations for how light an office should be, and it’s likely to be a lot higher than you were expecting?
The UK HSE recommendation for an Office is a minimum of 100 lux, with an average to avoid “visual fatigue” of 200 lux. That number goes up dramatically for situations for “work requiring perception of fine detail” – with a minimum of 200 lux and an average to avoid “visual fatigue” of 500 lux.
Those recommendations are just factoring in safety, what about wellbeing and alertness? Light isn’t just for seeing, it has a significant impact on how we feel. Well here the recommendations are a bit more difficult to pin down, but 1,000 lux is probably about the right kind of brightness. For a bit of comparison, not that there is any, an overcast day comes in at somewhere around 2,000 lux with a sunny day at >100,000 lux.
I work out of a small bedroom at my house. It’s blue skies outside, but it is October, in here today, without any lights on it’s just about 200 lux at my desk. This is supposed to be enough, but it feels dull. With lights on, which I do quite a lot, it’s over 500 lux, and it makes me feel completely different. Perhaps it’s time to invest in some spot lighting for my desk to push the brightness nearer to 1,000 lux.
The other factor in Office lighting is the temperature, and to a certain extent colour.
Colour makes a big difference to how we feel, and I certainly don’t have enough time to go through that now, suffice to say, there are colours which are good for different modes of working.
Most of the time, though, the predominant light should be a form of white for which the temperature is the thing that you should be considering. Most of us didn’t consider lighting temperatures until the days of LED and now we see hundreds of choices. For an office, the recommendation that people make is between 3,500K and 4,000K which may not be as warm white as you have in your lounge but isn’t a stark blue-white either. Why does temperature matter, it’s not about health and safety, higher colour temperatures impact productivity because we are supposed to find them invigorating. You should go for lower temperatures when you want to relax because they contain more red which helps to increase melatonin levels, something we need in an evening. The higher colour temperatures contain more blue light which is linked to alertness.
In summary: go brighter and go lighter.
Tip: Go brighter and lighter – aim for more than 500 lux brightness and 3,500K temperature.
There’s another discussion about lighting and home working, and that to do with video conferencing, but that’s for another day.
- Graham’s WFH Tips – Some Advice for a Changed World
- Graham’s WFH Tip #1 – Routine is your friend
- Graham’s WFH Tip #2 – Wear Work Clothes
- Graham’s WFH Tip #3 – Put your Superpowers to work (but don’t overuse them)
- Graham’s WFH Tip #4 – Thinking Music
- Graham’s WFH Tip #5 – Enjoy You Spaces
- Graham’s WFH Tip #6 – Plan your first day back before you leave
- Graham’s WFH Tip #7 – Make Time to Stand Up and Get Moving
- Graham’s WFH Tip #8 – Lighten Up – you need more than you think you do… (this one)
- Graham’s WFH Tip #9 – Find your Social – It doesn’t have to be about work all of the time
- Graham’s WFH Tip #10 – Lift Your Focus and Feed the Birds
Header Image: Another beautiful morning walk.