In my first blog post of this series, Lighting for home-working; you need it! I raised some of the important factors that home-workers and their employers need to consider, especially with regards the need for home-workplace lighting that is fit-for-purpose.
It seems there could be a lot more people working from home in the foreseeable future, maybe forever – and with the short days of autumn and winter, now is the opportune time to make the changes that will, quite literally, light up your life.
There is no need to install special lighting on your ceiling, or to make invasive changes that will impact the domestic nature of your home (unless you want to, of course), but there is a requirement to ensure you have the correct lighting you need to fulfil your work tasks in a comfortable and healthy way. Even if you have worked from home for years and have a dedicated room as your home-office, the chances are it is still not ergonomically correct or optimally lit and that you could benefit from a few well-considered upgrades.
In my previous post I discussed the office lighting regulation LG7, and how important it is to try to comply with this standard in the home-working environment. In a central, commercial office the lighting should (if done correctly) comply with LG7 and this will usually be done with lights that are fixed into, or suspended from, the ceiling. At home the majority of us don’t want to permanently install office lighting with all the disruption and cost this entails, not to mention the office-like aesthetic it creates.
There is another way though; using a free-standing office light that requires no installation at all! This type of lights is commonly used in commercial offices throughout Europe, especially in Germany, Switzerland and Austria; but they are not very well-known in the UK even though they have been available here for years. Using one of these free-standing lights – which are specifically designed to give direct light onto the desk as well as indirect light onto the ceiling – you can easily achieve LG7 compliant lighting without any specialist knowledge or other equipment. With energy consumption starting at only 48w (depending on your ceiling height) this type of lighting is very efficient at providing the optimum lighting you need. Best of all they will automatically dim – thus using even less electricity – when the surrounding light levels increase; for example, when the sun makes a rare appearance and provides a sufficient amount of natural light through your window. They will also turn themselves on and off automatically when you are at your desk or away from it. All of this functionality is built-in as standard and does not require any user interaction at all. Once you have set the level of light you feel comfortable with the unit itself will take care of all the rest.
How do you use one of these?
It’s simple, the light can be free-standing or desk-mounted. Free-standing is usually the best option for most people as it allows for moving the unit around (hiding it away at the weekend for example) and it also means you can use it with any desk/table/kitchen-counter you may be using for work. If you are lucky enough to have a sit-stand desk you need a free-standing version as the desk-mounted one would hit the ceiling when you raise the desk to standing mode.
Desk-mounted versions of these lights are mostly used when there is a permanent work-space set-up and a fixed-height desk with a good quality top that will not flex. In this scenario both free-standing and desk-mounted would work just as well as each other, so it the choice would largely come down to personal preference.
To comply with LG7 lighting guidelines it’s important to have the correct amount of light on your working area (desk-top) as well as light onto the ceiling and surrounding walls. The ceiling and walls are important as if they are too dark in comparison with your desk-top and computer screen there will be a lot of bright-dark contrast and this can cause eyestrain (for the same reason you should remember it is actually very bad for your eyes to look at your phone or tablet screen for a prolonged time in a dark environment). It’s also important to allow your eyes to travel around your surroundings so their focus muscles get some exercise – rather than staring at the same fixed distance of your screen for hours. By keeping the surroundings well lit it makes it easier for your eyes to adjust focus; ultimately this is for the long-term health of your eyes as well as the short-term prevention of eyestrain, so it’s very important.
For the optimum lighting from one a free-standing office light it is generally best if it is positioned in such a way that the downwards part of the light is shining directly onto your desk-top. They are designed with ultra-low-glare optics so do not appear bright in your eye-line even when you look up. The upwards part of the light will then shine onto the ceiling and bounce back down giving an ambient light level all around you. This indirect approach also distributes a good amount of light onto any adjacent walls and furniture so the overall illumination you can achieve is quite amazing when you see if for the first time. When we demonstrate these to clients who have never seen office lighting this way people are usually very surprised by how well lit the room can become from something as simple as a free-standing, mobile light that plugs into a standard electric socket.
In my opinion, companies that expect their employees to work at home for any significant amount of time are being very remiss in their responsibilities if lighting is not one of the several very important factors they assess for the suitability of the home-working situation their employees have available to them.
Fusion Spaces, with their philosophy of well-being through best-practice are ideally placed to advise on all home-working criteria, and we at Waldmann are very pleased to be their partner for the lighting aspect of their work.