With more and more people nowadays working from home, the question of how to stay productive while you work from your living room has become surprisingly important. If you were to tell folks 50 or 100 years ago that the main problem of millions of people in the 21st century is that the lighting in their home isn’t “just right” you would have probably been laughed at. Yet, that’s exactly how things are today. Home office lighting has turned into a very important part of many people’s workflow and productivity. However, it is also still grossly underestimated. So, let’s try and change that by shedding a light – pun intended – on the issue and consider how to light your home office to be more productive.
There are lots of home office light fixtures to choose from and a ton of office lighting design patterns to go for. The reason not all of them work, however, is that it’s very easy for bad lighting to ruin your concentration, to tire your eyes, to create unpleasant glares, and so on. Yet, because a lot of people fail to consider these factors, they end up missing on a lot of home office lighting solutions that could have easily improved their productivity and work effectiveness.
So, what should you do when it comes to home office lighting? The intuitive solution is to try and emulate the lighting in actual office spaces. After all, they are supposed to be optimized for work effectiveness, right? Well, they should be, but they usually aren’t. Most office buildings, whether we are talking about shared office spaces in modern high-tech firms or in old-fashioned cubicle offices, make their lighting design choices based on cost-effectiveness. This means that they usually go for high ceiling bright lamps, usually LED, that can reach far and light up as much cubic space as possible. This may save the companies a lot of money but is also one of the chief reasons why more and more people find working in an office to be unpleasant and retreat to working from a home office.
So, what is missing in the typical office lighting that you should add to your home office lighting?
Natural light is your best friend
Good old natural light remains the best type of light for your eyes, for your mood, as well as for your productivity. Finding out how to position and adjust your work station so that it receives as much sunlight for as long as possible and needs less artificial lights is the best way to turn said work station into a productive place for you. This, however, is often difficult for multiple reasons:
- You can’t always redesign your entire home so that you get more sunlight. If your apartment or house simply doesn’t receive enough natural light there may not be much you can do other than not working from home or moving out.
- As great as natural light is, it too can create glare if it comes from behind you or tires your eyes when it falls directly in front of you. For those reasons, it’s smart to position your work station in such a way that it receives sunlight from the side for as long as possible. Positioning your work station to face north or south is also a good idea so that the sunlight doesn’t throw too many shadows at any point of the day.
- Consider getting new curtains, a standing screen, a simple blind or solar shades for your windows to help you better customize the amount and the brightness of the incoming sunlight. Rather than just shutting off the light entirely when it becomes too bright it’s smart to be able to soften it and reduce it to your liking.
Customize your lighting
Home office ceiling lights, as well as desk lights, should be customized in such a way that they don’t bother you when you work. The main thing to look out for is direct light. Having a direct glare from an overhead light can hurt your eyes and make working under such light into a great pain even if you don’t recognize the reason for the unpleasantness immediately. Instead of using direct overhead lights focus on achieving a diffused ambient light that will illuminate your entire workspace evenly. Something like a pretty lampshade can soften and scatter an otherwise bright light and can also provide a pretty decoration during the day. Upward-shining lights are always a good idea as they bounce their light off the walls and the ceiling and illuminate the entire space in a soft and harmless manner.
Use smaller desk lights to create dedicated workspaces inside the larger room or space
This brings the benefit of helping you stay focused and on-task instead of getting distracted by other things. A well-defined office lamp on your desk, while you’re working on your computer, can effectively help you shut out the other visual distractions around you. Is there a video game console at the other end of the room? You won’t notice it if you are using a desk lamp instead of a ceiling lamp. Is your spouse napping on the couch behind you? You’ll manage to stay focused on your work until it is done and then join him/her. Just remember to follow the previous step 2 when you’re setting up your dedicated light.
Always consider the location of the light source
Whether natural or artificial, the light should never come from behind your back or directly into your eyes. The former will create a glare into your computer screen while the latter will hurt your eyes directly.
Use accent and decorative lighting intelligently
Home office lighting doesn’t need to be used just as a light source – it can also be used to improve the atmosphere and the ambiance in your workspace. Use decorative or accent lighting to light up paintings, plants and other attention-drawing objects and give your home office a much more pleasant and visually appealing look.