Smart lighting is a fundamental element of a healthy building. But how does it work, and why is lighting quality so important when it comes to workplace wellbeing?
When a team of experts from the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health summarised nine foundations of a healthy building, they found the lighting to be one of these.
The extensive research highlighted how today’s built environment has the power to impact upon inhabitants’ health, wellbeing and productivity. They referred explicitly to either the provision of optimal natural light or the use of the latest recommended lighting technology and the monitoring of lighting needs as outdoor conditions change.
Healthy buildings are a valuable asset for a number of reasons:
For employers, they can
- aid the recruitment of exceptional talent
- give productivity a boost
- improve staff retention and morale
As brands, they can also
- bolster reputation
- support environmental and sustainability policies
For landlords, healthy buildings are
- invaluable to attract long-term tenants willing to pay top rental rates
- have the potential to reduce energy costs and operational overheads
For its occupants, a building’s indoor environment is crucial because it can directly impact both their physical and mental health. ‘Sick building syndrome‘ is a known phenomenon, leading to symptoms such as headaches, nasal issues, skin complaints, dry or sore eyes or throat, and concentration difficulties.
Various elements are thought to cause sick building syndrome, some of which are connected with lighting, including a lack of natural light and bright or flickering lights.
We look at the effects of poor lighting on building health and workplace wellbeing in more detail.
How does lighting impact building health and employee well-being?
A study by the University of Birmingham suggests that lighting is one of the major determinants of workplace comfort. In fact, a lack of adequate lighting can reduce efficiency and produce harmful health effects.
The study recommends that lighting should be ‘sufficient to enable work, use facilities and move about safely and without eye strain and other ill health effects’. It goes on to quote legislation [Regulation 8 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992] which states that every workplace should have ‘suitable and sufficient lighting and it shall, as far as it is reasonably practicable, be by natural lighting’.
Good lighting conditions, says the university, should involve:
- maximum provision of natural daylight
- careful planning to minimise shadows
- maximum control of ambient lighting by individuals
- task-based suitable lighting
- avoidance of dazzle or glare, including by natural light, by the repositioning of the illumination or workspace
The Lighting, Well-being and Performance at Work study by Professor Jo Silvester and Dr Efrosyni Konstantinou of the Centre for Performance at Work at City University London reviewed existing research on the impact of lighting and wellbeing in the workplace. They also looked at new developments in work practices and their relevance for lighting, wellbeing and workplace performance, and emerging good practice around wellbeing at work.
The findings from the review suggested that existing research documents viable evidence of an association between lighting and work performance. Also, the studies exposed that whilst lighting alone is unlikely to affect performance significantly, it is one of several factors that combine to create healthy working environments. These, in turn, help buoy engagement, productivity and wellbeing.
“Worker-controlled lighting, and lighting solutions tailored to individual worker needs, have substantial potential for boosting work satisfaction levels, and enhancing employee retention.”
Interestingly, worker-controlled lighting, and lighting solutions tailored to individual worker needs, have substantial potential for boosting work satisfaction levels and enhancing employee retention. This conclusion is a crucial finding for those employers who seek to boost competitiveness and reputation by attracting top talent.
Finally, the City University London report recommends organisations consider the need to invest in workplace lighting to support wellbeing and performance and reduce cases of employee stress, sick leave, and accidents.
Research into the connection between workplace lighting, building health and, ultimately, workplace wellbeing abounds.
A report by office supplies company Staples following a survey of 7,000 office workers across Europe revealed:
- 80% cited good lighting as important
- 40% had to deal with uncomfortable lighting daily
- 32% suggested better lighting would make them happier at work
- 68% said they’d feel more valued by their employer if they considered their health and wellbeing by investing in suitable lighting
“By altering lighting types throughout the day, employees feel a lot more in control of their working environments.”
The Staples research recommends altering lighting types throughout the day. This could mean using biodynamic lighting – which adjusts to a daylight tone during the day to match natural light – and the worker’s personal preferences.
By doing this, employees feel a lot more in control of their working environments, something which is known to boost happiness and productivity.
Research would unanimously suggest a correlation between workplace wellbeing and lighting and that the ability for workers to individually control the lighting in their personal workspace is highly beneficial.
Interested in knowing more about Workplace wellbeing? Read the second part of this two-article series Creating Healthy Buildings Via Smart HVAC here.
So, is this level of individual lighting control achievable?
Yes, it is. It’s called ‘smart lighting’.
How does smart lighting work, and how can it improve workplace wellbeing?
Smart lighting has the ability to identify the optimum lighting settings and, in response, change the type and tone of lighting to suit.
It makes use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to remember user preferences, as well as common reactions to automated changes.
It can also incorporate biodynamic lighting.
Biodynamic lighting is an artificial light source that replicates daylight and sunlight’s dynamic variations via a light management system.
This type of lighting allows the same biological effects of natural light to be recreated in the workplace, mimicking the rhythm of natural light and offering a lighting solution that impacts positively on vision, the biological clock, and overall health and wellbeing.
Smart lighting also has another string to its bow: the ability to adjust the lighting in a personal workspace.
A real game-changer, it means individuals can tailor the lighting to suit their preferences, as well as different tasks. Personalised lighting is precisely what so many studies suggest as the ultimate workplace wellbeing tool.
How can Smart Spaces support workplace wellbeing through smart lighting?
Smart Spaces is an Internet of Things (IoT) powered platform that uses internet-connected sensors and artificial intelligence to automatically control various aspects of a building management system, including indoor air quality, ventilation, heating and lighting.
The platform transforms lighting systems into smart lighting systems (also supporting biodynamics) to create the ultimate working environment.
Even better, via a smartphone app, users can control the lighting within their workspaces with a tap of their fingers or a tap of a button.
Machine learning recalls personal preferences and creates pre-sets for specific tasks, times of day and environmental conditions.
Therefore, users are empowered to make their own lighting choices, resulting in improved workplace comfort, happiness, morale, and wellbeing.
Request a free demo or get in touch to discover how Smart Spaces can help you achieve improved lighting and, therefore, a healthier building and enhanced workplace wellbeing.