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Lighting in the office

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 work step. It is not for nothing that the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Ordinance assign an important role to lighting. 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 office lighting.

Advantages of the right lighting in the office

Light is fundamental for humans and has an impact on our well-being and health. The brightness throughout the day influences our biorhythm and, as a result, directly affects 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 (BAuA) investigated the lasting effect of optimal lighting at the office workplace back in 2015 and established the effects of lighting conditions on the internal clock:

"Effective lighting makes people more alert, increases reaction time and can be used as a motivator regardless of the time of day. Particularly acute and medium-term consequences of blue-enriched lighting modeled on morning and evening hours showed a lasting effect on the test subjects."

The right lighting can therefore actively counteract fatigue and increase concentration. This in turn leads to better performance and higher productivity. With optimal lighting design in the office, companies are therefore not only investing in the health of their employees, but also in the success of the company.

Occupational safety requirements for lighting

Poor lighting conditions lead to health problems 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 employees' workplaces. This is stated in the relevant paragraphs of the Workplace Ordinance:

"The employer may only operate workspaces that receive as much daylight as possible and have a line of sight to the outside."

It goes on to say:

"Workplaces must be equipped with facilities that provide adequate artificial lighting to ensure the safety and health of employees."

The requirements of the Workplace Ordinance are specified in the Technical Rules for Workplace Lighting (ASR 3.4). Among other things, it contains precise information on the minimum requirements for illuminance.

Offices and office-like workspaces
Illuminance (min.)
Filing, copying
300 lux
Writing, reading, data processing
500 lux
Technical drawing
750 lux
200 lux
As these are only minimum values, it cannot be deduced from them whether compliance with the values is actually the optimum workplace lighting. Depending on the task area or individual requirements, further optimization measures may be necessary or appropriate in individual cases. This applies, for example, to older people or people with visual impairments who have higher lighting requirements due to their lower visual performance.

Ensuring optimum lighting in the office and at the workplace

Setting up effective lighting in the office is a complex task. This is because numerous factors play a role in the development of a lighting concept and must be taken into account.

Sufficient daylight

lendis guide Occupational health and safety Office lighting sufficient daylight

Although artificial light can have positive effects, it is no substitute for natural daylight. Research shows that the greater the distance from the window, the greater the negative effects on health. A sufficient supply of daylight in all offices must therefore be the goal, and not just from an occupational health and safety perspective. In addition to its positive effects on well-being, sufficient daylight can also bring economic benefits, such as energy cost savings.

The daylight factor can be used to determine whether there is a sufficient supply of daylight. This is determined by the ratio of the illuminance at the point to be measured and the illuminance outdoors. The daylight factor must be at least 2 percent.

Daylight control systems are now used in modern offices. 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. The desk should be positioned at a right angle to the window. This helps to avoid or reduce glare on screens or other surfaces, even in bright light.

Artificial light

If there is not enough daylight available, for example in the morning and evening hours between October and March, artificial lighting should be used to ensure the best possible lighting conditions in the office. On the one hand, the aim is to provide sufficient ambient lighting throughout the office. This should be as uniform as possible and neither too bright nor too dark. In addition, the individual office workstations 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?

There are typically different work areas in a modern office. Computer workstations, conference rooms and meeting points all have different lighting requirements. Depending on the application, different concepts are therefore used to illuminate the office space correctly.

With the room-based approach, uniform lighting is set up for the entire area, both circulation routes and individual workstations. The point in the room with the highest minimum illuminance is used as the reference value for the entire area.

This approach is particularly useful if the office workstations cannot yet be permanently positioned at the time of planning or are to be arranged flexibly in the future. However, with the room-based approach, the same (high) level of brightness must be created for each area, which leads to a significantly higher energy requirement.

If the arrangement of the workstations is known or if there are workstations with different lighting requirements in an office space, workstation-specific lighting is a possible approach. This offers the advantage that the lighting level can deviate individually from the general level and can therefore be better controlled.

Direct or indirect lighting?

The lighting can be direct or indirect. With direct lighting, the office workstations are illuminated directly from above. However, reflections and strong shadows are the main disadvantages of direct lighting. With indirect lighting, ceilings and wall surfaces are used for reflection. The lighting conditions created are often perceived as more pleasant.
Workplace-related lighting

A workplace-based approach to office lighting has become established in most companies. From an ergonomic point of view, this offers the greatest advantages. Pendant luminaires, floor lamps and wall luminaires provide general lighting through a mix of direct and indirect lighting. This is supplemented by individual lighting at the desk, usually an adjustable desk lamp for VDU workstations. The desk lamp should always be positioned so that it does not dazzle. This is because excessive light stimulation is just as stressful for the eyes as a lack of light.

Light color

The light color is used to characterize light sources. It results from their color temperature and is specified 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 cold color components
  • daylight white. (> 5300K) - is often used for lighting factory halls or brightly lit stores

There is no general answer as to which light color should be used in the office. As a rule, neutral white light is used. However, scientific findings show that a flexible approach is important. In particular, the time of day is an important aspect when choosing the light color. In the morning, colder light with a higher blue component ensures more activity. Towards the evening, a higher proportion of red in the warm white light range is suitable.

Other factors that determine which light color is perceived as pleasant are, for example, the type of task being performed or the outside temperature.

Interior design

The color design of office spaces can also be used as part of the lighting concept. The higher the reflectance of the walls, ceilings and surfaces of workstations, the brighter the entire room appears. To create a contrast, however, floor coverings should be darker.
Our office experts will be happy to help you set up your office. Arrange your personal consultation now.