As part of the process of setting up and organizing our new home office, we’ve learned a lot about how to light the room. Proper lighting makes a huge difference in productivity, energy and mood. Here’s a primer with the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way, along with some images of the lighting in action and tips for cubicle dwellers.When setting up an office area, you’ll want it to be pleasant, functional and free from distraction. These tips are designed to help you achieve a “layered” lighting look, and though you can pick and choose which ones appeal to you, when put together they form a lovely, cohesive whole.
Start out by considering natural light. Where is your desk situated? If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny window, it’s a good idea to park your desk nearby it, or if there are no distractions, facing it. There’s something to be said for gazing out of a window while your brain is processing things at full speed.
Overhead/built in light
Built in light sources are often the bane of the room. If you’re renting there’s not much you can do to alter them, and they often cast unflattering or inadequate light. But in combination with the other light sources, an overhead light does a good job at “filling in” the places the lamps won’t cover.
Dedicated task light
A dedicated task light is essential for avoiding eye strain and keeping focused, so if you choose only one of these options, go for this.
Ambient light is a great stress reliever. It’s pretty lame to look up from a long day of work and realize you’re sitting alone with only the light of your desk lamp for company. Ambient light fills the area with a soothing glow, for a warmer, more comfortable atmosphere.
Eye strain and migraines are two common ailments that come with working at a computer all day. Corrective lights, placed behind a monitor or screen setup, can help ease the bright glare emanating from that screen. It’s also possible to combine corrective and ambient light
Start with overhead light
Add dedicated task light
Add ambient/corrective light
Working at a desk or cubicle? Here are some quick tips to adapt the list above:
- If your desk isn’t near a window, take time during the day to walk around outside, even if it means taking the elevator down to the parking garage and having a stroll.
- Fluorescent lights? We feel for you. There’s not much you can do to combat them directly, but see if it’s possible to have them turned off during the day, or add a shield to the fixture covering the bulbs. Fluorescent lights are a migraine trigger and we’ve seen several offices that simply forgo overhead lighting completely.
- The task and ambient lights will probably be the easiest to integrate into a public office environment. See if you can get a minimalist lamp or one that clips onto a surface, to save desk space. Ambient lights should sit low to the desk so they don’t disturb people around you; the rectangular paper-covered lamps common today are an aesthetically-pleasing option.
- Some offices don’t allow modifications to equipment or spaces (in the case of moving desks or shifts), but if you can, it’s worth sticking an LED strip or puck behind your monitor. If you’re not allowed, try to reposition the screen so there’s no glare, or add a glare screen or hood to block light from hitting it. This will significantly reduce your eye strain.