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Seeing the Light

by fatweb

Jane Cowan-Harris

Head of WorkSpace IQ

In a recent article on workplace wellness, I wrote about the importance your physical workplace environment, including lighting, plays in your everyday wellbeing.
Lighting is something that you use as a matter of course when looking at your screen, but how you use it, both in and outside of your workplace, will have an impact on your health.
A big challenge with modern office design is that it favours lots of natural light flooding through a building to help people feel they have more natural, rather than artificial, light. And most of us like to be able to look out a window when we are at work.
Too much or too little light not only affects your eyesight, but also your posture. Too little will cause you to lean towards your monitor as you try to read what’s on the screen; too much will likely see you not only screwing up your eyes in an attempt to reduce the amount of light hitting your eyeballs, but also working in an awkward position to avoid that annoying glare shining in behind you.

Managing natural light

Blinds are the most effective way to manage over-lighting and tinting is also helpful, but you must make sure that it is dense enough for your needs.
If possible, orient desks to minimise glare, or the sun being behind your screen. Set yourself up at 90 degrees to the window to allow some management of both sun and glare.

So what’s the plan?

Ideally, computer users need a light directly over where they are sitting, shining onto the screen, but not into it. Ceiling lights set directly beside windows are often not required as the natural light is sufficient, so if possible, make it so that these lights can be switched on and off independently from the rest to keep the light at a more comfortable level.
If you’re unable to influence the lighting design or placement, desk lights are an option, either standalone desktop lamps, or those which can clamp onto your monitor will make a difference.
Good lighting will affect your staff and your productivity, so rather than an afterthought, keep it front of mind when planning your office design. Remember to include some thoughts on building orientation, other buildings nearby which may affect your light, the position of inside lighting, and lighting control.
Whether you are revamping your existing office, designing a new one, working from home or simply sitting where you always do, effective lighting matters, because you will work more productively and your body will be all the better for it.

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