Whether experience or scientific study – it is proven that the ideal workplace has a significant influence on efficiency at work. This fact is also reported without exception by studies, experience reports and probably everyone who has ever worked at a desk. So even the student knows: without the right working atmosphere, you can’t go on.
In addition to comfortable and ergonomic furnishings, however, the ideal workplace also includes the right lighting conditions. Without this, headaches, migraine attacks, eye problems and many long-term symptoms can quickly occur. While in the traditional office, however, all measures have already been taken, you are completely on your own when designing your home office. In order to be able to work productively, efficiently and above all happily and painlessly, it is important to illuminate the desk properly. We show how!
Why is home office lighting so important anyway?
If you think of traditional office buildings, you will notice that they are always as bright and illuminated as possible. In addition, especially in modern buildings, there are extensive window walls which allow daylight to shine into all rooms. This has not only something to do with the appearance, but also helps to create an ideal atmosphere for working. Because just as red light makes you nervous and green light relaxes, natural daylight promotes concentration. This is characterised by a colour temperature of usually 5 000 to 7 000 Kelvin (for comparison: candlelight, for example, has 1 500 Kelvin). But in everyday working life, whether in the office or in the home office, you are surrounded by all kinds of light sources. One of the biggest problems here is the screen. But what happens to your body when unfavourable yellow light shines on you from one side, the flickering screen takes over your view from the front and a bright table lamp dazzles your eyes in between?
The eyes always adapt to their surroundings. In changing light conditions, as is the case with computer work, for example, they must therefore always work. The result is often a stimulus satiation. If the room is too darkly lit, for example, your eyes will automatically do their utmost to maintain concentration and recognise the surroundings. In short: the wrong lighting conditions put too much strain on your eyes. The consequences are headaches, neck and jaw pain, which radiate through the sensitive nerves in the eye. But also visual impairment and migraine are favoured in the long term. So while the right lighting at the workplace is intended to prevent various health problems, it also simply increases concentration, which leads to greater effectiveness. Just as you are therefore looking for the right lighting conditions for reading, relaxing and cooking, your home office should also be equipped with the ideal lighting.
The Right Equipment
Not only the lighting itself, but also the furnishings have an effect on the lighting conditions. Thus, most office furniture on the market is available in subtle colours such as white and beige, in metallic colours or in soft wood tones. Black and dark brown are used at most for decorative details on the furniture. Office furniture made of beech, which not so long ago made up almost every office, has also been displaced. This is all for a good reason, because light colours naturally reflect light better. A room with white furnishings, for example, looks bigger, wider and brighter. For this reason you should start with the interior design. Bright colours and so-called “optical highlights” are better integrated out of sight, for example in the form of an oriental carpet. Regardless of this, the room for your home office should be calming to the eye and clearly distinguishable from the other rooms in your home.
The ideal lighting in your home office consists of these components
When it comes to the right meaning in the home office, a whole concept is needed. The biggest mistake that can be made here is to focus on just one light. In this sense, the regular ceiling lighting has to be supplemented by various direct and indirect light sources, thus allowing the optimum to be achieved.
Although the created concept can be individually adapted to the workplace as well as the activity, it should always consist of the following basic elements:
- ceiling light
- desk lamp
- indirect lighting or additional lighting elements
It may also be possible to use innovative products such as an office floor lamp, which also improves the lighting conditions. You can choose the individual elements according to your personal taste and your existing furnishing company. The focus is therefore much more on the lighting elements themselves and the position of these.
Making optimum use of daylight, increasing motivation and concentration
When it comes to light, the following always applies: Daylight is the best light. Our biorhythm and our inner clock are adjusted to this. For this reason, before implementing a lighting concept in the study, the furniture should be positioned correctly. With this in mind, it is best to choose a room with plenty of daylight for your home office.
Once you have found this, the desk is planned around the window. This should be positioned to the side of the window. Even if the idea of a workplace facing the window, the sun and possibly a great view is tempting, this should be avoided. The sunlight will only dazzle your face, while the restless life in front of the window will reduce your concentration. If you set up your desk with your back to the window, the light will blind the screen and hinder your work.
The right ceiling light: adjusting the basic brightness
Once the home office setup is complete, the task is to create a basic brightness level. This should always provide indirect lighting and not shine exactly onto the desk. For this reason, regular ceiling lights are usually used here. Even though a fashionable chandelier will visually enhance the home office, you should avoid such elements.
Much better are lamps which radiate the maximum of luminosity and do not cast patterns or shadows. A classic ceiling light or an LED panel are ideal here. With these you ensure that in the event of a lack of daylight a lighting similar to daylight is created. The chosen model should be adapted to the size of the room, so that individual hanging lamps are only worthwhile in small rooms. It is a little more complicated, but all the more efficient to install LED panels or strips all over the ceiling. This creates a constant brightness in the entire room, allowing the eye to relax.
The basic brightness can also be complemented by various indirect lighting systems. LED strips on shelves and cabinets as well as floor lamps can be used here. Wall lamps at individual points, for example around an armchair, are just as suitable. By distributing different light sources, uniform lighting can be generated throughout the room. As a result, this imitates natural light best.
Office floor lamp: what you need to know
A popular alternative in the home office is also the office floor lamp. It can also serve as a basic element for lighting at the workplace. It is nothing more than a floor lamp, which is positioned parallel above the desk like a panel. It does not visually disturb the room. Instead, models of this type were designed precisely for everyday work and are therefore an ideal and complementary method for your home office.
The light is suitable for small to medium-sized rooms of 10 to 20 m2 and emits both direct and indirect light. Thus, the office floor lamp is usually positioned next to the desk, where it provides a direct component of around 500 lux on the work surface. The remaining 80 % of the indirect component in turn ensures that the entire room is ideally illuminated. Although this is an apparently all-in-one solution, the office standard luminaire should also be supplemented by other lighting elements.
Depending on individual perception, the basic brightness alone can be insufficient and thus be a burden on the eye. In addition, you can also equip the home office with a desk luminaire for concentrated work.
Find the right desk lamp
Some activities require punctual light. This is the case, for example, when filling out documents or especially for technical drawings. For these concentrated tasks, basic lighting alone is not enough – a desk lamp is needed! These are available in all sizes and designs, so the question arises as to what constitutes the ideal desk lamp.
To ensure that it always meets all requirements, it should be particularly flexible. Specifically, the head or the lamp must be adjustable to suit your needs. In the same way, it pays off to use a desk lamp that is adjustable in height. In this way you will avoid being dazzled. At the same time, the desk lamp can also be flexibly adapted to all work.
Wide pendant lamps or LED rods are becoming increasingly popular at the desk and especially in the home office. However, these should not be used, as spot lighting is not possible here. Although the workplace is generally well lit, it lacks additional options.
If elements of this type are additionally illuminated with a desk lamp, this in turn puts a strain on the visual appearance and makes the room look overwhelming. For this reason, it is best to adapt the size and scope of the desk lamp you choose to your desk to ensure that there is still enough room for writing and working.
Adjust the screen brightness
One aspect that should never be forgotten in the home office is screen brightness. After all, the ideal room lighting for your work area can be ruined if the display is too bright. This dazzles the eye, causes visual disturbances and also leads to headaches. However, most laptops and PCs have a setting that adjusts the brightness of the screen to the surroundings. This should be adhered to in order to avoid overloading the eye.
At the same time, it is important, especially when working at the screen, to pay attention to a balanced light. With this in mind, avoid working in the dark on the screen. If the day is drawing to a close, the lighting in the home office should be activated in good time.
However, especially if you work a lot on the screen, it is necessary to quickly correct errors on the screen. If your laptop suddenly begins to flicker, it is best to take it to the workshop soon. Because even if this display flickering is not constantly noticed, it causes eye strain due to the constant change in lighting conditions.
Which light colour is suitable for working?
The light colour is just as important as the choice of the right lighting elements and positioning. This is expressed in Kelvin and determines whether the lighting is warm, neutral or cold. In principle, cold white light promotes concentration and for this reason is also used in most working areas – from the practice to the office.
However, in the context of innovative office concepts and the ever shifting focus towards “feeling good at work”, warm white (approx. 3000 Kelvin) or neutral (approx. 4000 Kelvin) light is also used. These offer the ideal middle ground between concentration and well-being. Nevertheless, the higher the number of Kelvin, the cooler the light and the more it imitates daylight. Despite different opinions, warm light should.
Which light colour is suitable for working?
Just as important as the choice of the right lighting elements and positioning is the light colour. This is expressed in Kelvin and determines whether the lighting is warm, neutral or cold. In principle, cold white light promotes concentration and is therefore also used in most working areas – from the practice to the office.
However, in the context of innovative office concepts and the ever shifting focus towards “feeling good at work”, warm white (approx. 3000 Kelvin) or neutral (approx. 4000 Kelvin) light is also used. These offer the ideal middle ground between concentration and well-being. Nevertheless, the higher the number of Kelvin, the cooler the light and the more it imitates daylight.
Despite different opinions, warm light should be avoided at all costs. This has a dark effect and additionally strains the eye. Regardless of which light colour you choose, you will always maintain uniform lighting. In this sense, it pays off to use the same lighting elements. Contrasts and colour changes would only put additional strain on the eye and cause exactly the things you would like to avoid at work: agitation.
Tip: Adhere to occupational health and safety regulations
Specifications relating to occupational safety and the preservation of a professional workplace were designed with the workers in mind. Even if it is the home office, it is worthwhile to orientate oneself by them. Thus, there is always a benchmark to evaluate the lighting in the personal work area. Here, the technical rules for workplaces (in short: ASR) provide concrete specifications for the brightness at the workplace. This is measured in lux, with at least 300 lux being required for filing and copying. For writing, reading and data processing, i.e. basically for regular desk work, a minimum of 500 lux is required.
However, since visual acuity also declines with age, individual adjustments may be necessary – here you have a free hand in the home office. For technical draughtsmen and graphic designers, a higher brightness level should also be set at the workplace. Here, the ASR 700 Lux is intended, which can also be maintained in the home office primarily through direct lighting elements. In addition, the official regulations also provide for a laterally inclined incidence of light.