Whether in the office, in the home office, in the workshop or in other areas of your company: the right lighting often makes a big difference to well-being and safety during every step of the work process. It is not for nothing that the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Ordinance assign an important share to the lighting factor. Both employees and the company benefit from well-chosen lamps and luminaires that optimally complement the incident daylight. Our guide shows what needs to be considered when it comes to lighting in the office.
Advantages of the right lighting in the office
Light is elementary for humans and has an impact on our well-being and health. The brightness during the course of the day influences the biorhythm and subsequently directly our performance. Light has a stimulating and motivating effect on the body. Decreasing brightness, on the other hand, signals the end of the day to the body and leads to tiredness.
The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, BAuA) already investigated the lasting effect of optimal lighting at the office workplace in 2015 and determined the effects of lighting conditions on the internal clock:
With the right lighting, fatigue can be actively counteracted and concentration increased. This in turn leads to better performance and higher productivity. With optimal lighting design in the office, companies invest not only in the health of their employees, but also in the success of the company.
Occupational safety requirements for lighting
Poor lighting conditions cause damage to health and increase the risk of accidents. For this reason, occupational health and safety regulations require companies to provide appropriate lighting in the office and at the workplace of employees. This is stated in the corresponding paragraphs of the Workplace Ordinance:
It goes on to say:
The requirements of the Workplace Ordinance are concretised by the Technical Regulation for Workplaces - Lighting (ASR 3.4). Among other things, it contains precise information on the minimum illuminance requirements.
Offices and office-like work areas
Writing, reading, data processing
Ensuring optimal lighting in the office and at the workplace
Although artificial light can have positive effects, it is no substitute for natural daylight. Research shows that the negative effects on health increase with increasing distance from the window. Therefore, not only from an occupational health and safety perspective, a sufficient supply of daylight in all office spaces must be the goal. In addition to its positive effects on well-being, sufficient daylight can also bring economic benefits, such as energy cost savings.
Whether there is a sufficient supply of daylight can be determined via the daylight quotient. This is determined from the ratio of the illuminance at the point to be measured and the illuminance outdoors. The daylight quotient must be at least 2 percent.
Daylight deflection systems are now used in offices with modern furnishings. These mirror systems provide effective lighting with natural light in rooms and workplaces with poor access to daylight.
Tip: Place desks as close to daylight as possible. There, the desk should be positioned at right angles to the window. This helps to avoid or reduce glare on screens or from other surfaces, even when the brightness is high.
If there is not enough daylight available, for example in the morning and evening hours between October and March, artificial light should be used to ensure the best possible lighting conditions in the office. On the one hand, the aim is to provide sufficient basic lighting throughout the office. This should be as uniform as possible and neither too bright nor too dark. In addition, the individual office workstation must be sufficiently illuminated and it must be possible to carry out the respective task. It is important that the differences in lighting conditions are not too great. This prevents fatigue, as the eye does not have to constantly adapt to new visual conditions.
Room- or workplace-related lighting concept?
In a modern office, there are typically different work areas. Computer workstations, conference rooms and meeting points, they all have different requirements for the necessary lighting. Depending on the application, different concepts are therefore used to properly illuminate the office spaces.
With the room-based approach, uniform lighting is set up for the entire area, both traffic routes and the individual workplace. The point in the room with the highest minimum illuminance is taken as the reference value for the entire area.
This approach is particularly useful if the office workplaces cannot yet be firmly placed at the time of planning or are to be flexibly arranged in the future. However, with the room-based approach, the same (high) brightness must be created for each area, which leads to a significantly higher energy demand.
If the arrangement of workplaces is known or if there are workplaces with different lighting requirements in an office space, workplace-specific lighting is a possible approach. This offers the advantage that the lighting level can deviate individually from the general level and can thus be better controlled.
Direct or indirect lighting?
A workplace-based approach to office lighting has become established in most companies. This brings the greatest advantages from an ergonomic point of view. Pendant luminaires, floor lamps and wall luminaires provide general lighting with a mix of direct and indirect lighting. This is supplemented by individual lighting at the desk, usually an adjustable table lamp for VDU workstations. The desk lamp should always be positioned so that it does not dazzle. After all, too strong a light stimulus is just as tiring for the eyes as a lack of light.
Light colour is used to characterise illuminants. It results from their colour temperature and is expressed in Kelvin (K).
White light is usually divided into
- warmweiß (< 3300K) – steht für Wärme und Gemütlichkeit
- neutral white (3300K - 5000K) - is a mixture of warm and cool colour components
- daylight white. (> 5300K) - often used for lighting factory floors or brightly lit shops.
There is no general answer to the question of which light colour should be used in the office. As a rule, neutral white light is used. However, scientific findings show that a flexible approach is important. For example, the time of day in particular is an important aspect in the choice of light colour. In the morning, colder light with a higher blue component ensures more activity. Towards the evening, a higher red component in the range of warm white light is suitable.
Other factors that determine which light colour is perceived as pleasant are, for example, the type of task to be performed or the outside temperature.