Impact of Lighting on Productivity
Light—it’s necessary for humans. It effects people mentally, physically, physiologically and their overall performance. The impact of lighting in the workplace is very important to understand—not only to achieve energy savings but also to influence worker performance. Intuitively we know that lighting is of value but it is often overlooked in the workplace, especially the value related to productivity.
Many companies are changing their lighting systems in order to achieve energy savings. Those savings can lower building costs but depending on the type of light, location and task the effect on worker performance can be either increased or decreased. Research has shown that when the lighting is right, it can boost productivity, reduce fatigue and eye strain, and in turn increase an organization’s opportunity to maximize performance.
It is relatively easy to find measurable savings based upon different lighting selections. Unfortunately the effect of different lighting designs has not been defined nearly as well. There have been a number of studies as well as anecdotal evidence that shows a positive correlation between lighting design and productivity. For instance, the Reno Post Office performed a $300,000 lighting and ceiling retrofit that was projected to yield energy savings of about $50,000/year. So the project would have paid for itself within 4 years. However the project was paid for in less than 1 year due to the significant effect of the lighting changes on reducing machine operator error to only 0.1 percent, the lowest error rate in the western region. This reduction in operator error was worth close to $400,000/year!
Think about what happens when you have the wrong lighting—the cost an organization’s people and their ability to get their jobs done. The cost of people (labor) for an organization is roughly 85% of operating costs while lighting accounts for about 1%. What would it mean to the profit margin and potential health costs savings to an organization whose productivity increases only 1% due to better lighting? Productivity gains can easily exceed the cost savings of an electric bill.
It’s time for a new mindset in regards to lighting—it’s not just to reduce consumption; it is to help people do their jobs., as such lighting is a key component of ergonomics. Proper lighting can cut down on quality issues, error rates and the need for supplemental task lighting. It can also lead to increased productivity, worker well-being and lower absenteeism.