Does winter mean darker days for your office productivity?

 

October, 2016

 

It creeps up on us every year – the evenings get steadily darker until it’s time for the clocks to change. Normally at this point we have the same conversation every year about whether clocks go forwards or backwards (it’s backwards). Some well-meaning individual then tries to claim that “at least you get an extra hour in bed”. Those people have underestimated the impact of living with a 7 year old child…

While these conversations won’t impact productivity over the winter months, poor or inappropriate lighting may. As we spend 80-90% of our time indoors with about 20% of that at work, it’s worth exploring how good lighting can promote productive workplaces. A study conducted by Mills, Tomkins and Schlangen (2007) indicated that a well-lit office can improve productivity by up to 20%. Additional research by Phipps-Nelson, Redman, Dijk, and Rajaratnam (2003) suggests that this increase is due to an increase in alertness and improved reaction times whilst reducing sleepiness.

 

The theme that tied the results of these studies together was the importance of colour temperature. A higher colour temperature produces a cooler, more invigorating type of light that can promote alertness and reduce the effects of fatigue. By contrast warmer colour temperatures have a better fit with collaborative areas such as meeting rooms and breakout areas as they can have a calming and relaxing effect.

A push towards dynamic lighting allows an organisation to adapt their lighting throughout the day. By slowly increasing or decreasing the colour temperature you can maximise productivity and employee wellbeing. Cooler temperatures in general office space in the morning to increase alertness can give way to warmer tones as the day goes on – allowing you to get the best of both worlds.

For more information on dynamic lighting, visit here.

**Mills, P.R., Tomkins, S.C. & Schlangen, L.J., (2007). The effect of high correlated colour temperature office lighting on employee wellbeing and work performance. Journal of Circadian Rhythms. 5, p.Art. 2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1186/1740-3391-5-2

***Phipps-Nelson, J, Redman, JR, Dijk, DJ and Rajaratnam, SM (2003). Daytime exposure to bright light, as compared to dim light, decreases sleepiness and improves psychomotor vigilance performance. Sleep 26: 695–700.


Noguchi, H and Sakaguchi, T (1999). Effect of illuminance and color temperature on lowering of physiological activity. Appl Human Sci 18: 117–123, [PubMed] DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2114/jpa.18.117

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