The Surprising Impact of Overhead Lighting in the Workplace

Jan 18, 2023

When clients begin the process of designing new workspaces, aesthetic choices in flooring, wall coverings and furniture styles are all key decisions that will affect office interiors, but often the most important and overlooked element of design is overhead lighting and its effect on employees.

If proper lighting is not installed near desks and other workstations, employees can find themselves battling eye strain, headaches, fatigue, unhappiness, and low motivation, all originating from the glare of overhead lighting reflecting off computer screens. 90% of workers will be affected by computer vision syndrome (CVS) this year, and according to a 2018 international survey, one-third of workers would be happier at work if they had better lighting in the office. Selecting the best office lighting available has become a top priority for design teams and office managers and a key factor in boosting workplace wellness.

Overhead Lighting Choices For Your Workplace

Spaces like conference rooms, hallways, and reception rooms require brighter lighting to illuminate the entire area, which can be achieved by installing ambient lighting powered by LEDs. LED lights have become a popular energy-efficient alternative to fluorescent lights, and they are likely to save a company money in the long run as LEDs don’t use excess energy in the form of infrared radiation like fluorescent lights. LEDs can also be dimmed to match the time of day and season, reducing the likelihood of interference with sleep patterns or headaches that are often triggered by fluorescent lights.

It’s imperative to make the most of the natural light available in your office. According to research from Cornell University, employees who had daily exposure to natural light reported an 84% drop in eye strain, headaches, and blurred vision. WELL Standards of lighting encourage companies and employers to utilize both artificial and natural light in the workplace as sunlight helps regulate hormones and keeps the circadian rhythm in check, allowing employees to sleep well at night and work productively the next day.

Lighting Hues

After considering choices in lighting for employee health, it can be difficult to determine which hue of lighting is best for your office’s overall design scheme, but the color and temperature of lights should vary based on the function of the space. Keep in mind that warm, yellowish light can intensify warm colors and mute cooler tones, while blueish light does the opposite. For example, incandescent lights cast a warm glow that can enhance reds, oranges, and yellows, and cool fluorescent light works best with blues, violets, and greens. The best way to find the right color is to view a large sample of the paint color or material in the light conditions utilized by your office space.

Materials Library

HagerSmith Design’s interior design team has anticipated this need and created a materials library with color-changing LEDs that reveal the full spectrum of hues in a client’s choice of flooring and wall coverings. HagerSmith can also assist clients in strategizing the optimal workspace positions inside an office to avoid contrasting glares on screens and to capitalize on natural light, with our office serving as an example of balanced light source. The main workspace inhabits a large open studio with colorful acoustic lights that can be adjusted to shine down on the desks, up towards the ceiling, or a combination of both with windows bringing in natural light and park views.


For more information on natural light sources and healthy overhead lighting strategies, contact our Interior Design team HERE.

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