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The impacts of lighting on productivity

Improving efficiency will obviously be a top priority for any owner of a small to medium enterprise (SME) in Australia. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that in 2013-2014, page labour productivity rose marginally overall, illness but some industries experienced a downturn. This included electricity and water services, medical as well as postal and warehousing industries.

Every industry is likely to want better productivity, and there are many ways of addressing this – including through a commercial office fitout. With this month’s focus on efficiency in our posts, let’s take a look at one specific element of office interiors that can be very beneficial for productivity: The lighting.

How does office lighting affect productivity?

“The prime factor which affects the productivity of employees is lighting in the office,” wrote Amina Hameed in a 2009 paper for the Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management. “Both natural and artificial light is very essential in any office environment.”

This paper goes on to discuss the difficult conditions that can be created when there is insufficient commercial lighting, as the dimness can strain the eye, cause headaches and irritability, which in turn negatively impacts productivity. However, creating conditions that are too bright may also cause problems for employees. Keeping light at an appropriate level, with a combination of natural and artificial lights, will ensure that vision and productivity stay at an optimum level.

Also worth noting is that the level of lighting is something that impacts male workers more than female workers, according to this paper.

But is it worth the cost?

Let’s look at the case study of a post office in Reno, Nevada, when discussing the productivity benefits of lighting. This post office underwent a full renovation of its office lighting to try and improve the efficiency of its workers. The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) published a whitepaper discussing this, noting that productivity gains from the increase in efficiency post-outfit measured up to $500,000 over 12 months. This was a productivity increase of more than 8 per cent due to improved lighting, and means it made up the cost of the commercial lighting outfit within a year.

What’s more, the energy savings will create profits for your business. For example, the RMI noted that Boeing has reduced lighting electricity in many of its production plants by up to 90 per cent, with an overall energy savings return of 53 per cent – which means they made their money back in just two years.

Clearly, there are many precedents for changes in lighting improving productivity and profits. So how do you go about installing this in your own office space?

Create more space for natural light

One of the most effective ways of getting appropriate levels of light to optimise productivity is to create as much natural light in your office as possible. Engage an office fitout company that knows how to make the most of this, by putting windows in the right place, knowing which rooms to open up and how to orient an office to maximise sunlight hours.

L. Edwards and D. Tortellini from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory also noted in a paper titled “A Literature Review of the Effects of Natural Light on Building Occupants” that daylight-filled work spaces can also reduce fatigue, which is an excellent boon for productivity.

Of course, not every office is going to be able to benefit from this. In these cases, installing lights far enough away from desks to prevent blinding brightness, perhaps using materials in office furniture that will not create glare, and making sure the lighting can be moderated are all important aspects to consider.

It’s not good for the evening

Further research on office lighting by Mirjam Muench has identified artificial lighting as a cause of sleepiness in the evening, whereas energy levels stay higher among those who work in natural light. A lack of cortisol can also increase stress levels when you go without natural light, providing even more reason to try and get this as part of your office interior design.

Clearly, there are many options available to you during an office fitout to improve productivity, and natural light is not the be-all and end-all of creating an efficient work space. Making workers feel comfortable and providing levels of light that are neither blinding nor too dim will be conducive to a good work environment if natural light is not a possibility.

Just as important in the process is working with a company that knows the value of commercial lighting and has worked with it before. An SME budget is unlikely to be endless, so you need an office fitout that will bring tangible results. With this deep understanding of how office lighting can impact your bottom line, A1 Office Fitouts is ideally positioned to help in this department, contact us today.

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