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Effect of Lighting and Temperatures on Employee Productivity

30 August 2022

Some of the most important factors that an employer needs to be mindful of when setting up their office spaces are ergonomics, lighting, and temperature. While most employers today are more conscious about workplace ergonomics, they don’t really realize how important lighting and temperature are. Even the employees may not realize that the lighting and temperature of the office are affecting their productivity and efficiency.

Sometimes, you don’t realize the importance of something unless you get to experience change. It’s the same with temperature and lighting. Let’s be real. How often have you evaluated if you work better in a dimly lit office or a brightly lit space? How often have you given a thought to how the temperature of your office affects your mood and productivity? We’re sure these factors have never occurred to you as something that may be affecting your productivity at work.

If you would like to know more about the effect of lighting and temperature on productivity at work, you’ve come to the right place. This blog post will clear all the confusion you may have in your mind right now and will open doors to a pathway that leads to a productive and efficient you!

Circadian Cycle

Understanding the Circadian Cycle

The Circadian Cycle or Circadian Rhythm is the body’s responsiveness to light. It’s a biological cycle that spans over 24 hours. This cycle affects sleepiness, wakefulness, mood, digestion, and numerous other body processes. The primary factor that affects this natural cycle is light but the temperature has a significant role to play here as well.

Before we can move on to how light and temperature affect productivity at work, you first need to get a clear understanding of what a Circadian Cycle is and what is its relation with productivity.

The hypothalamus is the part of the human brain where your body’s natural clock is found. This clock is associated with photoreceptors (light receptors) that are spread across the body. These photoreceptors sync the natural clock of our body with the light that we absorb during the day. Certain types of lights can signal the brain to work more actively while some lights can signal the brain to start packing up for the day. Need we tell you that the more active the brain is, the more productive you’ll feel at work? So, this means that if the workplace has lights that signal the brain to be more active, the workers will observe an improvement in their productivity. The type and amount of lighting in a workplace, therefore, has a direct effect on mood and concentration, and hence, productivity.

You may wonder where the temperature fits in this equation. The core temperature of your body is higher during the day and it falls to a much lower level as the sun begins to set. Higher core temperature indicates to the body that it’s daytime and you’ve got to be more active. However, as the day starts to wind up, the core temperature of your body starts to fall, and thereby, starts preparing your body for the night. If the temperature of your office is on the higher side, your brain will be signaled that it’s daytime and it got to work actively. However, lower temperatures are perceived as night and your brain starts to slow down, which reduces the productivity levels big time.

Who knew there was so much science around the effect of temperature and lighting on productivity? However, now that you know, you’ll be able to better manage your productivity at work. Even if you can’t do much about changing the light and temperature in your workplace, you would at least know what’s triggering the fluctuations in your productivity level.

How Does Light Affect Productivity

How Does Light Affect Productivity?

You’ve already got an idea of how light affects the Circadian Rhythm. Let’s now have a look in detail at how exactly the office lighting affects your productivity and efficiency.

Color Temperature

Did you know there was a thing called color temperature which is why some lights feel warmer and others feel cooler? The color temperature is measured in the unit Kelvin. The warmness or coldness isn’t about the actual temperature of the color. It has got more to do with the tone of lights. The lights that have a higher color temperature are brighter and cooler. The lower color temperature would make a light dimmer and warmer.

If the lights in your office are warm, they’ll make the environment feel more relaxing and welcoming. Your body will feel a lot more relaxed, which is why warm lights are not a good choice for workplaces. If the workers feel too relaxed, their bodies will lose alertness and there’ll be a significant dip in the productivity levels. The best types of lights for office space are the ones with a higher color temperature that are brighter. As you know by now, brighter lights stimulate the Circadian Rhythm and signal the brain that’s daytime and it needs to stay active. Cooler lights boost the concentration levels, make the workers more alert and focused, and therefore, ensure maximum productivity.

Color of Light

You’ll be surprised to know that the color of the light also has a direct impact on productivity levels. The color of the light can stimulate the brain or regress the brain. Yellow-toned lights are at lower down the color scale. They correspond to dawn and dusk which are the times of the day when the body is more relaxed. Yellow-toned lights make the environment feel warmer and quieter, which is why they’re a bad choice for office spaces. Yellow lights may be great for your bedroom or a fine-dine restaurant but they’re certainly not for workplaces. The employees’ bodies will be constantly signaled to relax which can reduce their productivity levels significantly.

If you want your employees to work at their maximum potential during the day, you should design your office such that it allows plenty of sunlight to come into the office. When the photoreceptors detect sunlight, they’ll tell the brain that it’s daytime and it’s not the time for it to fall asleep! If you can’t redesign your office, what you can do is replace the warm lights with cooler, brighter ones. White lights are your best bet!

Not only does the color of light affect your Circadian Rhythm, it also affects your dexterity, which is your efficiency at work that’s performed by hands. According to research and studies, workers who worked in a room that had red lights had a higher muscular power. Whereas, those who worked in rooms that had white lights showed higher grip strength. The effect of light on dexterity may not hold much significance if the workers at your office aren’t involved in any tasks that require muscular strength. However, for jobs that require workers to do physically strenuous jobs, the color of light can make some real difference.

How Does Temperature Affect Productivity?

How Does Temperature Affect Productivity?

If we talk about Circadian Cycle, higher temperatures promote wakefulness and higher productivity and lower temperatures promote sleep and loss of productivity. The core temperature of your body is higher during the day and lower at night. But remember that surrounding temperatures that are too hot or too cold will have the opposite effect. The effect of temperature on dexterity is quite prominent. Can you sleep when the temperature of your surroundings is too cold? Can you work if your office feels hot? The answer to both these questions is no.

If the temperature of your office is too high, you’ll be hot and sweaty which would make you uncomfortable. And when you aren’t comfortable, you won’t be able to focus on your work and your productivity will take a hit. Similarly, if your office feels too cold, your dexterity will be affected. Your fingers will feel numb and the temperature sensors in the fingers may not work as efficiently as they should. As a result, the brain doesn’t get the signals it needs to deliver the desired response. This is the reason you find it so hard to grip things when the temperatures drop too low.

If you want the employee productivity to be maximum, you’ve got to make sure that the lights in your office are just right and the temperatures are good enough to make the employees feel comfortable. As long as you assure employees are comfortable and the lights are synced right with the Circadian Cycle, you can rest assured that your employees will work actively with utmost focus and concentration that’ll eventually result in improved outcomes for the business.