Optimizing your productivity is key to performing your best at work. Although the statistic is somewhat depressing, about a third of our lives are spent at work, so to make our lives as happy and healthy as possible, it’s in our best interest to make our workspaces comfortable and energizing.
One important way to do this is to pay close attention to the lighting in our spaces. Factors like color temperature, types of light bulbs, and over-illumination can have a huge effect on your work, and help you improve your productivity. When you work in a home office, you have much more decorating and design freedom than if you were working in a cubicle in an office, so there are even more things you can do to improve your environment.
The Science Behind Healthy Lighting
The major factor to consider in the “healthy” lighting discussion is natural light. According to researchers in the Neuroscience program at Northwestern University, there is a strong relationship between daylight exposure and office workers’ activity and quality of life. On the flip side of the study, office workers who worked in windowless environments experienced universally detrimental results.
The scientific explanation for this phenomenon is our Circadian rhythms, which are our bodies’ natural changes and our internal clocks’ “on” and “off” responses to signals from our environments – namely, light. For example, getting natural sunlight at the same time every morning keeps our Circadian rhythms regular, which promotes regular sleep patterns. Much like this morning exposure, daylight throughout the workday keeps you alert and functioning at a higher capacity.
Simply having a window in your home office does not always mean that you have proper light. Your window may be small, or in a position that receives little direct light. Additionally, there is the question of working during non-daylight hours. Being smart about the artificial light you use in your home office or workspace can directly increase your productivity.
When choosing the right light bulb, it’s all about color temperature. Color temperature describes the color characteristics of light, usually either warm (yellowish) or cool (bluish), and is expressed in degrees Kelvin (K). Lights with lower color temperatures generally look red, while those with the highest temperatures look blue. Think of it as holding an iron rod over a flame. The iron looks red when first heated, but then it moves to “white hot” and finally “blue white” hot. The same applies to color temperature.
The temperature of noon daylight is generally about 5500K, with temperatures increasing up to about 6800K, depending on the time of day, season and weather. Full spectrum light at about 5500K is generally the best for people, plants, schools, and offices. With their long life and eco-friendliness, LED light bulbs are the best option. LED Bulbs like the smart LIFX Edison Screw, the Kobi A19, and the Lighting EVER, all hit this temperature and are smart choices for your home office.
As the name suggests, over-illumination is exposure to entirely too much light. The body actually treats this as total darkness, so it negatively affects our internal clocks. Health effects can range from high levels of fatigue and stress to more dangerous things like high blood pressure and increased cancer risks.
Green Lighting, Literally
There is the complex science of color temperature that affects our productivity, and then there’s actual color. The green eyeshade visors used by detail-oriented fields like accounting and copy editing in the early 1900s, as well as the original green bankers’ lamps, served to reduce eyestrain from incandescent lights, but that effect can still be applied today. Using the color green in your office, whether it’s green walls, a green lamp shade, or a green hue LED bulb somewhere in your office, can increase productivity by promoting concentration and focus.
Adjusting the lighting is just one way you can sharpen your focus and improve your productivity. What have you done to better your work environment?