It’s time for a quick exercise. Close your eyes and imagine your office space. What do you see? Do you see a bright, modular environment surrounded by windows and organic textures or do you imagine a dark, carpet-square dungeon with beige cubicles from the ‘80s? If you’re thinking of the latter, don’t be discouraged, you’re not the only one. Consider this, almost 60% of existing office buildings were built before 1980 and many are past due for upgrades to aging building equipment, systems and assemblies (Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide: Office Buildings).
Let’s think about it another way. How old is your car? Unless you’re driving a classic 1984 Guards Red Porsche 944, I’m willing to bet your car is less than a decade old. Or when was the last time you made upgrades to your home? You’ve probably made improvements in the past five years. How about that backyard patio you’ve converted into a BBQ griller’s paradise?
So why haven’t we upgraded our office space? The paradigm is even more puzzling when you consider we spend the majority of our lives at work. Unless you count sleeping – and I don’t mean sleeping at work. If you’re ready to bring your office space into the modern era, lighting is one of the first building systems to consider upgrading. Not only because outdated lighting is a major energy hog, but because LED lighting can have hidden impacts on your office.
Hidden Impact #1: Trips, Slips and Falls
Outdated or inadequate lighting can have a negative impact on worker safety in spaces like hallways, stairwells or parking garages. Did you know office workers are 2.5 times more likely to get hurt by a slip and fall injury compared to non-office workers?
With traditional lighting it can be hard for building maintenance to keep these spaces illuminated because bulbs are constantly burning out. We’ve heard stories about stairwell lights being burned out for weeks. That can lead to some serious trips, slips and falls. Think about the liability – all just because the maintenance group was unaware.
LED lights can last up to 100,000 hours, so your maintenance crew can focus on more important tasks than replacing lights. And with integrated controls, lighting is easy to regulate, so you can light the stairwell only when needed or in use.
Hidden Impact #2: Employee Productivity
Your employees are your biggest asset and your office environment should be a place that fosters productivity, community and creativity.
Lighting has a major effect on how well we work and feel in a space. Studies show that poor lighting can lead to visual discomfort, neck pains, headaches and fatigue.
It’s a simple correlation. Happier employees tend to be more productive employees. Providing the right lighting solution in an office can result in dividends, such as increased employee satisfaction and productivity.
The military has studied it too. Soldiers working in fluorescent lighting tended to feel less alert, more fatigued and more depressed over time. Soldiers working in fluorescent lighting showed slower response times on cognitive tasks measuring spatial and verbal memory (forthoodsentinel.com).
How can you expect your employees to do their best work in an environment that is working against them?
A major source of headaches (aside from your boss) can stem from fluorescent lamps. Older fluorescent lights emit a blue light wavelength that may be a greater trigger for migraines. In fact, 12% of the population suffers from migraines (http://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/).
LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY, took a stance against their flickering fluorescent tubes in their facilities and upgraded to LED. By doing so they found that fluorescent-induced migraine headaches were mitigated by at least 80%.
Hidden Impact #3: Company Brand
The last thing you may be overlooking is what your lighting says about your building and company brand. The look and feel of your office not only affects how your employees work and feel in the space, but it says a lot about your brand and culture to current and prospective clients or job candidates.
Are you innovative? Do you foster creativity and collaboration? Do your employees feel comfortable in the space?
You certainly have spaces in your building which make a real statement about your business - your lobby or the main conference room where you hold top-to-top meetings-- and lighting can really affect that.
Research shows that office design should be reviewed at least once every five years to help you remain competitive. Attracting new customers and retaining employees is hard enough without your building working against you.
You’re probably up-to-speed on some of the latest modern office design trends like open floorplans, standing desks, whiteboard walls and bringing natural light and elements inside. But what you might not be considering is how your lighting requirements change when you redesign your office.
Converting a cubicle farm to an open floor plan requires changing the lighting distribution; the conference room where you added the whiteboard wall might now suffer from glare and be hard to read.
If you’re starting to embrace the incoming natural light, but you aren’t utilizing lighting controls to dim the existing lighting, it could be too bright for your workers, causing eye strain and headaches.
LED is More than Energy Savings
Renovating with LED lighting has more benefits than energy savings. And the best part is we’re only at the beginning stages of this important technology. As new studies are completed and technology improves, we’ll find even more ways for LED technology to positively impact our lives at work.
Bonus: Download this worksheet to help you walk through a simple, phased approach to LED lighting that has worked for our customers.