If you work nine to five then daylight can be a distant memory this time of year as your journey to and from work is likely to be in darkness. The lack of daylight in winter can have a negative impact on people’s mood and motivation in the office, particularly if the lighting in the office is insufficient.

There have been numerous studies on the effect of lighting and people’s moods, the most recent study by the Cleveland Clinic’s Nursing Institute revealed that poor lighting in hospitals may worsen patient’s mood and even cause them to feel more pain. The main reason patients felt worse was because the poor lighting meant their bodies struggled to adapt to their normal sleep-wake cycle so they felt constantly fatigued.

The effect of office environments on motivation levels was brought to light by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in 1959 when he published his ‘Two-factor theory’ which looked at, amongst other factors, the impact work conditions have on motivation and job satisfaction. The study revealed that the ‘hygiene’ factors of the job, such as working conditions, should be at a neutral level before any improvements to motivation can begin. Herzberg states in the study, "Job satisfiers deal with the factors involved in doing the job, whereas the job dissatisfiers deal with the factors which define the job context."

Work conditions therefore are job dissatisfiers and can have a negative impact on motivation. Occupational Psychologist Paula Duncan, C.Psychol (http://www.stmspecialists.com), explains, “From a psychological perspective, it’s been proven that a perceived positive physical work environment (i.e. good lighting and surroundings) is linked to positive motivation. Poor physical work environments are stated in modern motivation theories as a hygiene factor, which means if people operate in a poor working environment then they are demotivated to begin with. If people can work from neutral base, for example having correct lighting and equipment in place in pleasant surroundings, then it’s far easier to build positive mood and motivation in the workplace.”

iStock_000021567009SmallWhatever the issue with office lighting, from flickering fluorescent tubes to buzzing lamps, it’s clear that quality lighting is vital to improved motivation at work and improved sleep; better lighting can also reduce the likelihood of migraines, eye strain and headaches in the office.

How you can improve the lighting in your office

Lighting in the office is split into three categories: general, localised and local. General lighting refers to the lights which light the whole office area such as the classic T8 fluorescent tubes found in most offices. Localised lighting refers to flexible lighting which can be moved to help people perform a task such as a lamp with a flexible neck and local lighting combined background and localised lighting.

According to the Health and Safety Government there’s no single best approach to lighting a work area, and it generally comes down to personal preferences. However, it’s important that people have the option of controlling light levels in their working area. For example, fixing local lighting in the form of an adjustable lamp to each desk gives people extra light when it’s dark outside or for tasks which involve a lot of concentration. Installing blinds on windows can help to control glare and also adjusting the position of desks to prevent glare from natural light will allow people to experience daylight without the annoyance of glare. If the desks can’t be moved then anti-glare screens or adjustable monitor arms can also help people find their ideal light levels without compromising comfort. Personalising each individual workspace as much as possible will ensure that everyone is able to find the right light levels for them. Increasing natural light levels where possible will improve the mood in the office. Paula explains, “Recent research shows how crucial natural light is to better productivity at work so where possible, it’s important to maximise natural light in the office as it’s a natural mood booster.”

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