When we picture a bad office to work in, there are a few things that come to mind most often: an angry boss, unhappy co-workers, and sickly green fluorescent lighting. While the green may be a touch on the behalf of movie makers and TV show producers, the idea of working in an office with flickering lights overhead is always unwelcome. Despite the fact that two of those are problems concerning people, lighting stands out in our minds as a problem in the workspace. That’s likely because your lighting is one of the biggest passive and active factors in our work environment.

Whether it’s dim or overlit, filled with glares, flickering throughout the office, or a color making everyone tired, the lights in your office affect everyone in the room, even if we don’t realize it. Light passively messes with our brains, generating different hormones based on what we’re exposed to. Something so simple can have an effect on us in a big way, which is why making sure your office is well-lit will not only make your employees feel more comfortable but also help make them more productive.

With all that said, what can you do to make your workspace more productive by utilizing your passive lighting?

Right Bulbs

One of the first and easiest steps is to switch out your light bulbs. While fluorescent lighting is big and relatively cheaper, there are more side effects with these bulbs than there are with your other options. Fluorescents provide a high-voltage, bright white light that can be aggravating to the eyes, not to mention when one of them starts to go out is when you get that irritating flickering. We don’t notice lights flickering as much as we do with these long tube bulbs. 

Compare this to LEDs, which are more expensive upfront, but last much longer than fluorescents. They can also be found as tube bulbs to fill your office space, but their longer lifespan means you won’t be seeing that annoying flickering for years, and even then, LEDs are easier on the eyes, meaning they won’t be nearly as distracting for most people. Further, most of them can be dimmed or controlled separately from other lights in a fixture, meaning you can turn off a dying bulb without having to turn off all the lights in the room.

Long-term, quality lighting starts to push the focus of your office away from annoying aspects of the office to staying focused on work. It may not be overtly obvious to most people that this change has even happened, but that’s a good thing! Instead of being distracted by a problem, they’ll be focused on the tasks at hand. 

Utilize the Space

While having good indoor lighting is an important step in improving your workplace’s atmosphere, it’s also important to not wash your office out with new lights. Instead of relying just on lighting, use the sun! Sunlight has a naturally positive effect on us. Exposure to sunlight every day can help with the body’s production of serotonin, which makes us happier. Employees that are in a good mood are more likely to get invested in their work and be more energetic about what they’re doing. 

Using your space to allow for more sunlight to naturally fill the room can make the space feel more open, and reduce workplace fatigue. The more awake your employees are the more work they’re going to get done in a day. There’s also the added benefit that the more sunlight there is in your space, the fewer overhead lights you’ll need, reducing your electric bill.

Update Shades

As great as sunlight can be, having sunlight everywhere can have its drawbacks. In particular, sunlight at certain parts of the day can cause glare on your team’s screens. Bright glare keeps your employees squinting their eyes, or getting up to adjust blinds instead of working. It can also breed a sense of agitation, amplified by each time blinds need to be adjusted or frustration when there’s nothing to stop the glare.

Cut back on glare with updated shades. Motorized shades can be set on timers to automatically adjust throughout the day, or with daylight sensors to adjust on their own in response to outside light. With this, your employees don’t have to worry about pulling themselves away from work since their shades are already taking care of the glare for them. 

Passive Benefits

We’ve already talked about how lighting will affect people directly, but what kinds of passive benefits are there?

For one, a better lighting system will save you money on electricity and on replacement bulbs. Newer lighting systems are greener and more efficient, meaning you’ll save in the long run on something you probably never think about on an average day.

Two, it reduces problems that people don’t realize are happening because the lighting is causing tension without anyone being actively aware of the cause. A lot of the topics we’ve discussed are problems of agitation. We mentioned at the start of this blog entry that one of the most common complaints about a workplace is unhappy co-workers, but the causes for that animosity may be that the space feels unwelcoming, not the people. By making your workspace feel more inviting, that tension starts to ebb away.

Three, it’ll make your office look better. It’s not surprising that we think dark rooms are scary and well-lit ones are safe. Even as adults, we associate the darkness with discomfort. That doesn’t change at work! Well-lit spaces feel more inviting and friendly, both for employees and clients alike. We’re more likely to believe a place is nice if we’re not uneasy because of dim lighting.

Light Control

The goal of light control is to take everything we’ve talked about and making the whole system more efficient and comfortable. Each part of your lighting should work together to improve the atmosphere and let your employees focus on their work. A thoroughly connected system will take the stress away from you, open the space, and build a more inviting work environment.

Superior light control is why we choose to partner with Lutron Lighting. Lutron Lighting offers high-end lighting designed to fit any situation. Their designs allows for absolute light control, allowing you to program in different light conditions throughout the day and for different weather.


Let Automated Lights and Shades help you build a more productive Manhattan office. We specialize in commercial lighting so you can worry less about the things you can’t see. Contact us today to schedule an estimate or to ask any questions. Making your office more productive can be as easy as flipping a switch.