How to design lighting for the future workplace

Daylit spaces with controlled lighting and views can improve well-being, productivity, and satisfaction in the workplace by positively influencing various physiological and psychological processes, according to new analysis from the University of Oregon.

Lighting and views also impact property value and employee recruitment and retention, says the University of Oregon white paper, “The Impact of Lighting and Views in the Workplace of the Future”.

Personal shading and electric lighting control systems can help realise the benefits of daylight and views while significantly improving comfort, satisfaction, and energy performance.

“In the past, we spent a lot of energy trying to make our lighting systems as uniform as possible.  We now know that it matters when, where, and how much light we are exposed to, and the field is working to develop lighting systems that offer more holistic benefits,” says Siobhan Rockcastle, co-author of the white paper and Director of UO’s Baker Lighting Lab. 

“The demand for daylight, views, and personal controls are continuing to increase in the workplace,” says co-author Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, Director of the UO Institute for Health in the Built Environment. “We believe that enough is known about the influence of the visual environment on human well-being and performance to recommend action.” 

The white paper discusses literature indicating the value of daylight indoors to support healthy circadian rhythms and improve sleep quality.

However, the paper cautions against over-generalising what are currently highly contextual and typically discreet findings. Instead it recommends a measured approach to lighting practice, utilising natural daylight where possible and electric lighting, patterned on the cycles of the natural environment, that reinforces the body’s natural rhythms.

This approach should be dynamic; studies show occupant preferences vary drastically in different contexts and the ability to respond to these changes is a key predictor of user satisfaction.

And lighting should not be evaluated only with respect to visual-task performance. The experiential qualities of daylight, as well as the natural connections fostered by views, have the potential to significantly improve aspects of health and mood.

The white paper is available as a free download here.