When working in an office for the majority of the day, one thing is for sure: the environment can significantly affect health and well-being. Offices have gone through many trends, but one thing that has stuck around is the dreaded fluorescent lighting.
The type of light that employees experience can directly affect physical health, mood, and productivity. Think about the office layout. Are there many windows letting in natural light, or is it strictly florescent bulbs piercing the eyes of employees for eight or more hours a day? With their humming sounds and flickering, inconsistent brightness, not only can fluorescent lights be a nuisance, many believe they can contribute to a decline in health and workplace productivity. Here is the problem with fluorescent bulbs, and solutions to fix them:
The Problem with Fluorescent Lights
An office is a place where people go to get work done. The office should not come with negative feelings, but typically it does. When imagining an office, some may see boxy cubicles, bare walls, and almost always fluorescent lighting. When this is how the office is perceived, it may be about the worst place to imagine being. The environment in which an individual spends hours a day can notably affect their physical and mental health. You should consider this significantly before placing individuals in an office to work for 8+ hours a day.
Our bodies require regular exposure to natural light. Ensuring exposure can be tough to achieve when the most exposure someone is getting to natural light is in the car on the way to and from work. With less exposure to natural light and more exposure to fluorescent light, our bodies and minds can experience countless side effects.
Negative Impacts on the Body and Mind
1. Eye Strain
Staring at a computer screen all day accompanied by dim/harsh lighting can cause eye strain. When the light in a room is deficient, your eyes have to work extra hard to focus. Whether the lighting is harsh or too dim, fluorescent lighting can cause harmful effects on the eyes when around it for many hours. Eye strain alone can cause many other side effects that can negatively affect an employee’s health and productivity.
2. Blurred Vision
With the constant straining to see while working and avoid the harsh effects of fluorescent lighting, eyes can often become blurry. The longer the exposure, the more likely eyes are to experience blurred vision. It may feel difficult for employees to keep their eyes open, which can affect their ability to work efficiently and productively. Blurry eyes can also lead to fatigue as their eyes are working harder than they should
It’s no secret that harsh lighting can cause a headache. What’s worse is if the light is flickering. Overhead fluorescent lighting can quickly become a problem with its flickering characteristic. If bulbs aren’t replaced or taken care of properly, they are more susceptible to flickering, which can cause uncomfortable side effects for employees.
4. Decreased Productivity
When experiencing eye problems, headaches, and more, employees can also experience a decrease in productivity. It can be difficult for employees to focus when they aren’t feeling 100% at work. Fluorescent lighting not only has physical effects but can also have mental side effects. When employees aren’t happy in their workplace, they won’t want to work.
- Encourage employees to get out in the sun more (for breaks, lunch, or fresh air)
- Put in more windows or skylights to bring natural sunlight into the building (doing this will eventually save you money because it will require less artificial light to be on all-day)
- Do the research and select the best illumination method
- Employees can try blue light glasses to avoid eye strain
- Use eye drops to avoid dryness
- Try different light fixtures to minimize the harsh effects
It’s essential to take all the steps necessary to ensure your team is comfortable. Installing windows may seem like a financial commitment, but in the long run, it’s worth it. Natural lighting can help improve the moods around the office and can reduce the side effects of fluorescent lighting. Not only will your employees be happy, but your pockets will be too, with the reduced need for lights and a lower energy bill.