In most office and work spaces, lighting has typically been overhead and homogenous throughout the building.

However, there is a growing trend back to task lighting to provide more flexibility in how work spaces are illuminated. Here are some of the key considerations when choosing how to light up a work space:

Think about task lighting

The best approach adopted in modern design is to integrate overhead lighting and task lighting. Some of the main benefits of this blended approach are:

  • More control for employees based on the type of work they are engaging in at any point in time
  • Allows for individual variations in preference and age – for example, older people typically require stronger lighting than younger people due to age-related vision impairment
  • Reduces glare
  • Reduces eye strain, which has been shown to increase productivity
  • Reduced energy use

By using task lighting, it is possible to reduce overhead lighting during times of the day when natural light may be available. Instead of harsh overhead strip lighting, softer lighting choices can be selected, with stronger spotlights available at individual work stations to provide a suitable and customisable level of light. A typical scenario would involve adjustable desk lamps that can be positioned based on the task being undertaken, the amount of glare from natural light, and whether a worker is left or right handed.

Energy matters

Lighting can form a significant part of a business’ energy use. That’s why using an interior a designer who is familiar with different lighting options can help to save you money over the life of your fit-out. In some instances, reducing energy use will in fact by mandated as a part of lease conditions. For example, the Barangaroo retail fit-out guide includes requirements including:

  • Lighting must improve at least 25 per cent on the minimum energy efficiency guidelines stipulated in the Building Code of Australia
  • Lighting should be on a timer and include motion sensors so that lights automatically shut off outside of operating hours
  • Fluorescent tubes should be avoided
  • LED lighting should be used in lieu of LV halogen
  • LED or metal halide luminaries should be used in lieu of compact fluorescents

The Barangaroo guidelines also cover some safety aspects of lighting. For example, it is a requirement to have a plan for the safe changing and disposal of lighting and lamps. Designs should also take into consideration lighting heights, accessibility, lighting coverings and lighting levels.

LED lighting is something that most energy conscious designers now recommend. While LED lights may have a higher upfront investment (although the cost is reducing all the time), their lifespan is many, many times longer. As a result of lasting longer and using substantially less energy, LED lighting is a far more cost-effective option over the period of a typical commercial lease.

For task lighting, with their smaller size, LED lamps can be very space efficient as well. As the bulbs do not get hot like halogen lamps, there is not the need for a large glass or steel enclosure around the bulb. This means that the lamps can fit on even the smallest of desks without intruding into precious work space.

With so many options now available for commercial lighting, knowledgeable designers are the best-suited individuals when it comes to knowing how to most effectively light a space. Designs that take into account aesthetic and design goals, energy efficiency targets, and best practices to increase productivity will result in a solution that will allow workers to shine.