Whether you work in a home office or a cubicle farm, the character and quality of lighting in your workspace can go a long way toward making you productive. Poor lighting can dampen morale, produce eyestrain and headaches, and ultimately impair your ability to work effectively. In short, it always pays to pay close attention to workspace illumination. Here are five things to consider when making lighting decisions about your home office.
1. Keep it Indirect
Avoid working under the direct glare of overhead lights. Instead, look for ways to diffuse the ambient light that will illuminate your office space. Lamp shades soften and scatter otherwise harsh light, while an upward-shining floor lamp bounces the light off of walls and ceilings. The goal is to illuminate the entire space without creating undue glare and contrast, while also avoiding casting shadows.
2. Taken to Task
For computer work, filing and other focus-intensive tasks, you’ll want a well-defined light source dedicated to what you are doing. An adjustable or articulated desk lamp can put light exactly where you need it and support a variety of tasks. If your home office has multiple work stations – say a desk for computer and phone work, a filing area, and a table for reviewing photos and layouts – you’ll want dedicated task lighting for each station.
3. Location, Location, Location
Always consider where your light is coming from. A light source set behind you as you work at your computer will almost certainly create annoying glare on your monitor. Likewise, look out for unintended shadows cast by lamps set up for task lighting. For instance, if you write with your right hand, your hand and arm may cast shadows if the task light is also set off on the right. Also, be sure to consider the location of windows when setting up your work spaces.
4. Natural Light
Don’t overlook the unique benefit of natural light coming from a window, skylight or other portal. Sunlight can produce warm lighting that really improves the work environment. On the other hand, you may need to account for direct sunlight that creates overwhelming glare during certain times of day. A simple blind or even a standing screen will do a nice job of diffusing sunlight shining into a window.
5. Accent and Decorative Lighting
As discussed above, most home offices will feature ambient lighting that is diffused throughout the space and task lighting that is focused on specific work stations. Beyond these two functional lighting types, you may want to add decorative and accent lighting to help improve the visual character of your home office. Accent lighting like mantel or picture lights draw attention to objects or other elements in the room, while decorative lights—such as wall sconces—provide direct visual appeal.