How to Increase Workplace Productivity With the Flick of a Switch



Light matters. It controls our circadian rhythms, telling us when to be active and when to sleep. It influences our creativity, our motivation and our health. That’s why smart lighting controls can have a big impact on employee productivity. The smarter these lighting controls get, the more they draw on scientific research into human biology and psychology to offer ways to make employees happier, more productive and more creative at work.
Here are four ways smart lighting can reduce your company’s electric bills — and improve your office’s output.

The Power of Personal Control

A study into lighting quality and office worker productivity conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy found that the way a building was lit could influence comfort, motivation, persistence and vigilance.
The research showed that giving each individual staff member personal control of their own lights “had a measurable impact on the motivation of office workers to perform on tasks” and led to “dramatic” energy savings.
“Normally, the persistence and vigilance of office workers declines over the course of a workday. However, the presence of personal control of their lighting increased subject motivation, allowing workers to sustain their performance,” the study found. “They persisted longer on difficult tasks and were more accurate on a task requiring sustained attention.”

When Blue Light Is Good Light

Most people are now aware that blue light, such as that thrown out by smartphones and televisions, is a bad idea right before bedtime. That’s because exposure to blue light stimulates brain activity and fools the body into thinking it is daytime. But, as an American Academy of Sleep Medicine found, in certain cases, that’s a good thing.
This research discovered that just half an hour’s exposure to blue light increased reaction times and more efficient responses in test subjects — and the effect can continue for as long as 40 minutes. Lead author Anna Alkozei, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, recommended using blue light in occupational settings like pilot cockpits or operating rooms.
These findings can be extended to smart lighting. In an office environment, companies could mix in short doses of blue light with the ambient light at appropriate times, such as first thing in the morning or right after lunch.

When Dim Light Is Good Light

At the other end of the spectrum is a German study from researchers at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Hohenheim that shows that dimmer lighting sparks creativity in the workplace. It may seem counterintuitive to dim the lights in a place that people are working, but the study showed that those working in dim light were able to solve significantly more creative insight problems than those under regular office lights.
“These results indicate that dim illumination heightens perceived freedom from constraints, which in turn improves creative performance,” the researchers concluded.

The Rhythm of the Office

Varying the hue and intensity of office lighting also affects workers’ circadian rhythm, which impacts general health and happiness in a number of ways. When people aren’t sleeping properly because of exposure to the wrong kind of light at night, for example, their health suffers.
A study into exposure to daylight at work by researchers from Taiwan and the United States found that windowless work environments affected employee’s sleep and level of physical activity.
While it’s not possible to seat every worker next to a window in most offices, smart lighting controls can allow the ambient light to mimic not only the time of day but the season too, so that workers feel more attuned to the rhythms of the outside world.
For businesses, smart lighting means lower electric bills. For employees, smart lighting can completely change their working lives, improving productivity, motivation and even their health — and that benefits everyone’s bottom line.

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