Science Says Office Lighting is More Important Than You Think


Four colleagues sitting in an office at a communal desk with computers in front of them and overhead office lighting.

Office lighting is more function than form with most workers giving it little thought. But lighting plays a big part in our work day. It can affect how we see, feel, think and perform. Many organisations fail to realise that poor lighting can cost the organisation far more in lost productivity than the cost of an upgrade.   

The Importance of Office Lighting

It might not be discussed among workers as often as the air conditioning but office lighting is a source of worker complaints. We all have personal preferences for lighting. One employee will be concerned about the harshness, another will complain that it’s not bright enough over their desk and another will blame the lighting for a health concern. Some of the health problems associated with poor lighting include:

  • Eye Strain 

  • Headaches

  • Increased risk of trips and falls

  • Neck and shoulder strain

  • Depression and low mood

What Makes Good Office Lighting?

There is no single ‘best office lighting’ solution. The ideal office lighting will depend on the type of organisation and the tasks that are performed there. Successful lighting enhances the performance of relevant tasks, creates an impression, provides comfort for workers and generates desired behaviour. Insufficient lighting or too much light can be considered bad-quality lighting so it’s a fine balancing act. 

Research has found that the best office lighting is adjustable to suit a range of variables:

  • Tasks conducted in the area

  • Reduced blue light so workers can go home and get quality sleep

  • Ability to adjust artificial lighting as the daylight moves and changes intensity

  • Dimming lighting in the late afternoon so it doesn’t disrupt workers sleep cycles

  • Different lighting throughout the office depending on the area’s use and natural lighting

Appropriate lighting allows workers to perform visual tasks without eye discomfort. The lighting provides the right conditions for task performance and productivity. While most workers enjoy sitting near natural light, the right artificial light can also provide ideal work conditions. The blue light emitted from monitors and mobile devices is the same as the light emitted from fluorescent and LED lights which has been found to interrupt sleep cycles and hurt eyes. Organisations are upgrading away from harsh, blue emitting lights so workers feel less stressed, irritable, anxious and depressed.     

What Types of Lights are Used in Offices?

The office environment has an impact on the mood and therefore productivity of workers. A change in lighting can make a big difference to the physical environment. With the availability of research on lighting and its effect on workers' health, more emphasis has been placed on getting the lighting right when building or renovating office spaces. There’s a variety of lighting options that provide ideal lighting solutions for the majority of workers. 

Work Areas

A few decades ago, rooms had the standard fluorescent lighting. Now many workplaces use a mix of lighting such as pendants, downlights and spotlights in addition to making the best use of the building’s natural light. Blinds are important for adjusting sunlight so it doesn’t cause glare on screens.  

A task light is used to fill any gaps in room lighting. A desk lamp provides the extra light needed for comfortable work. Some workers like to use a task light when natural light is low and then turn it off when the sun hits their office window, or they use their desk lamp to supplement the weak winter sunlight. Task lighting helps personalise lighting to suit the individual’s lighting requirements. 

Presentation Areas

A boardroom or conference room may use wall lights, spotlights or downlights that can be dimmed as required. To maximise the number of staff benefiting from working near natural light, the boardroom can be placed in the middle of the building with workstations around the perimeter. 

More ambient lighting is often used in these spaces compared to work areas to create an atmosphere or mood. 

Ergonomic Office Lighting

Ergolink has a variety of task lighting options available. The Humanscale Element Vision Desktop Light uses MCK LED technology to deliver up to 3000k illumination which is rare for most desk lamps. The warm light reduces eye strain and glare. 

The Humanscale Element Disk Desktop Light offers a constant white light that provides an ultra-wide light footprint via its slender, futuristic form. 

For those workers looking for a magnifying glass for close-up work, the Magnifying Desk Lamp 22W by Jastek has a fluorescent lamp and a three diopter magnification lens on its arm.

The importance of office lighting can’t be underestimated. If you’re unsure how to improve office lighting for your workspace, visit our showroom to test the ergonomic lights available. You can also call Ergolink on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.