Today, 30-50% of workers are over 45 years old. Over the age of 45, people begin to experience a deterioration of their near-sight vision. Research shows a 60-year-old person needs between two and five times as much light as a 20-year-old to see the same visual detail, let alone concentrate.
As a result, Philips Lighting believes office lighting needs a serious rethink at a policy level.
In Europe, the minimum lighting requirements for writing, typing, reading and data-processing in offices is 500 lux, but Philips has gathered research to show that this is not considered sufficient by almost a third of today’s global workforce.
The answer may not be to simply increase light levels. The same lighting that boosts concentration for one employee could damage the creativity of another, says Philips. A laboratory study from 2011 demonstrates that while 1000 lux is required to support concentration, it is dimmer lighting that enhances creative thinking.
Philips says the solution is personalized lighting in the workplace.
In 2013, the company conducted a survey among people who tested a desk lamp that allowed them to adjust its light intensity and color temperature according to personal preference. Some 90% reported sharper vision, optimum eye comfort, the ability to see smaller details and improved contrast. The ability to adjust individual workplace lighting conditions according to personal preferences has been associated with better mood, improved lighting quality ratings and environmental satisfaction. Because individual preferences vary widely, individual control is the only practical means to ensure that people have a good chance to obtain light that is best suited to them.
“Regulatory bodies should take these findings into account for the well-being and productivity of today’s workforce,” says Dr Bianca van der Zande, Principle Scientist at Philips Lighting. “People spend 80-90% of their time indoors from which around 20% is spent at work so the indoor environment determines to a large extent the comfort and wellbeing of the office employee, influencing their performance. It is important that human-centric lighting becomes a part of the regulatory standards, allowing architects and building designers to advise for the best solutions – not only for offices, but for all building environments.”
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