Studies have shown that lighting in a workplace is a major influencer of comfort and well-being, and that the absence of decent lighting can see efficiency and productivity plummet, as well as impact on workplace wellness. But trying to achieve optimum lighting conditions in any workspace is never going to be a straightforward task if you are relying on doing so manually. And this is precisely why the concept of smart lighting has become so popular.
Smart lighting plays a pivotal role in smart workplace technology. Alongside HVAC control, indoor air quality management, automated meeting room and desk bookings and digital visitor management, smart lighting is a function that has the power to transform not just workplace comfort and wellness, but staff retention, talent acquisition and general workforce morale and productivity.
What is smart lighting?
It works by identifying the optimum lighting settings for any given space and, in response, it makes changes with a view to achieving those settings.
As well as real time data collected by Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart lighting uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to store personal user preferences and common reactions to environmental variations, such as failing natural light, or the opposite. It then uses this information to create automations that react to changing requirements, without the need for human intervention.
Smart lighting control systems also make use of ‘biodynamic lighting’. This is a source of artificial light that is able to mimic the dynamic variations of daylight and sunlight. It allows the same biological effects of natural light to be recreated in a workspace, replicating the rhythm of natural light to fall in line with the biological clock. This can have quite a positive effect on vision, as well as overall well-being and health.
Smart lighting also allows individual users to adjust their own personal lighting levels, which offers a major advantage. Everyone is different. Some people prefer to work in dimmed light, others favour brighter conditions.
Preferences may also vary depending on the task in hand. An editor scrutinising a design proof, for example, may require good natural light to aid focus and concentration and see true colours for what they are, whilst a brainstorming group may benefit more from cooler light to boost alertness and productivity.
How does lighting affect well-being and productivity?
Every one of us has a body clock known as a circadian rhythm. Our bodies are innately tuned in to the rhythms of sunlight, which is what makes us wake up when it gets light, and want to go to sleep when it’s dark.
Whilst it is not always possible to avoid artificial or inadequate lighting at work, there are various issues associated with it.
Dim lighting can lead to eye strain and headaches, as well as lack of concentration and drowsiness.
Bright lighting can impact on productivity, and fluorescent or halogen lighting may lead to headaches and even migraines.
Harsh lighting that cannot be adjusted can affect the natural circadian rhythm, which can negatively affect sleep.
Lack of natural light can cause anxiety and depression. It can lead to defensive behaviour and emotional instability, as well as poor sleep patterns. According to some studies, people who lack exposure to direct sunlight lose an average of 46 minutes of sleep each night.
Morning light is really important, as it helps get your day off to a positive start, as well as helping you maintain maximum productivity going forward. As many workers congregate in kitchen spaces when they first arrive, it’s wise to make sure those areas are well-lit. A dingy kitchen will diffuse morale and motivation before anyone has even had a chance to get into the day.
Working with colour temperatures is one solution.
The colour temperature of natural daylight can range from 4,000-7,000 Kelvin, although this is difficult to pinpoint with accuracy as it depends on time of day, weather, season and latitude. Achieving something within this range in a workspace, however, may be able to help alleviate the issues concerned with artificial light.
It is also advisable to think about different lighting conditions for different work zones and situations or tasks. For example…
Warm lighting works well for intimate settings such as breakout zones. This is because it has the ability to create a sense of relaxation and comfort.
Mid-toned lighting lends itself to conference and meeting rooms. It is welcoming, yet cool enough to keep attendees alert.
Cool lighting is best for brainstorming. It can heighten alertness and mood and boost productivity, as well as reduce levels of melatonin, which helps reduce fatigue.
LED lighting is more energy efficient than traditional fluorescent or incandescent lighting. These lights can usually be controlled in terms of brightness to suit the time of day or activity in hand.
The ideal scenario is a combination of natural and artificial light, with flexible lighting which can be adjusted to suit tasks and time of day, as well as individual workstation lighting that workers can adjust to suit their own preferences.
Even more ideal is smart lighting that automatically changes in line with environmental conditions, and that can be directly controlled by individuals via the convenience of a smartphone app.
Office layout is another solution.
Well thought-out positioning of office furniture will allow workers to benefit from both artificial and natural lighting.
Placing workstations and key productivity areas close to windows and in sight of natural light to allow even illumination with no glare or shadows is the ideal scenario. Open plan layouts with clear partitions can assist with these goals.
But where this is not possible, bringing in smart lighting control systems will ensure you get the most out of your artificial lighting, so that it mimics natural light as closely as possible.
Smart lighting is also energy efficient lighting.
Because smart lighting automatically reacts to changing environmental factors, in other words, it increases in intensity when the natural light outside fades, and drops when there is plenty of light flooding in, there are significant energy savings to consider.
Smart lighting will also react to void spaces; where sensors detect no human activity, so the lights are automatically switched off. In places like rest rooms or meeting rooms, lights will only activate when sensors detect occupants.
So no more wasted resources where lights are left blazing without any need.
Smart Spaces… the smart lighting solution
Smart Spaces is an Internet of Things (IoT) driven platform that uses internet-connected sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically control various aspects of a building management system, lighting included.
Smart Spaces technology has the power to store personal preferences and create pre-set lighting conditions for specific tasks, and will automatically adapt to times of day and environmental conditions.
Why not request a free demo or get in touch to discover how Smart Spaces can help you enjoy the numerous workplace and well-being advantages associated with smart lighting?