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LIGHTING


THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE...


Too bright, too dull, too much glare? Office workers need illumination to read, write, type and interact with one another, yet many workplaces are still getting it wrong. Dual source lighting is the likely way forward.


Poor lighting can lead to staff suffering from eye strain, headaches and postural problems, leading to sick days, not to mention lost productivity and mistakes. 80% of office workers experience at least one negative effect from poor quality lighting, according to researchers Bruskin Goldring, and 68% of employees complain about the light in their offices, according to a study by the American Society of Interior Designers.


“At 300 lux, colleagues can talk and walk but there will be no glare on the computer screens.”


Clever lighting can improve mood, contribute to staff enjoyment, and impact on the look and feel of a workplace for the better. It can also provide substantial energy and cost savings. Workplace lighting best practice has evolved down the years. 30 years ago, office work was largely paper based, requiring high


50 | TOMORROW’S FM


levels of lighting for staff to read documents. Large floor plates, split into cubicles, were often lit by banks of long, ceiling-mounted fluorescent recessed lighting fixtures that were almost as bright as stadium floodlights. Lighting levels were between 1,000 and 1,500 lux.


Desktop computers changed everything from the 1980s


onwards. Since viewing a monitor requires four to five times less light than reading a paper document, office lighting levels began to decrease. Nowadays, the recommended ambient office lighting level is between 300 and 500 lux.


But simply lowering uniform level of overhead lighting is not necessarily the best solution, says Shane Cohen, Global Product Director at ergonomic product designers, Humanscale.


“Problems arise because office workers now have two tasks on their desk that require very different levels of lighting,” says Cohen, explaining that staff have to look at the computer, which generates light. But they also have to look at paper documents, which requires a bright light level. “Monitor-document conflict is real and causes issues.”


Poor posture, leading to back, neck and head pain, is one such issue. According to Cohen, many offices are overlit, older offices in particular. “When you have too much light, you have glare. When you have glare, you squint, your body follows your eyes and you move into the screen. You take yourself out of the ergonomic position into a crunched position. And postural problems result.”


Some sections of the workforce are particularly at risk. As a general rule, older people require more illumination in order to perform tasks and have a harder time


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