News, Office

A third of UK office workers ‘hate their lighting’

Critics of the lit environment in the nation’s commercial workplaces say the sector lacks creativity

A THIRD of Britain’s office workers hate their lighting, a study by the respected pollsters Ipsos has discovered.

Some 32 per cent of white-collar employees told the researchers that they were unhappy with the light intensity, with only a fifth were able to alter the light level.
The results are sure to bolster critics of the lit environment in the nation’s commercial workplaces, who have slammed the sector for a lack of creativity. Top lighting designer Paul Nulty, founder of Nulty+, tweeted: ‘Bad lighting effects workplace productivity. Who’d have thought!?’

UK offices still have a preponderance of so-called Category 2 lights – recessed, deeply-louvred fittings designed to minimise reflections on computer screens – which deliver a gloomy environment. 

The study of over 12,000 workers across 17 countries showed that the UK workers are the least satisfied with their office ambience. The study appeared to add weight to the argument that local lighting control boosts employee engagement and satisfaction, as the biggest issue was a lack of control. Only 39 per cent of respondents say they can adjust the temperature, while a mere 21 per cent can alter the lighting. 

The so-called Category 2 light fixture has long dominated the UK’s offices, but its deep louvres are no longer necessary to prevent reflections on computer screens. Picture: Andrew Malone

‘This could be seriously affecting the concentration, productivity and engagement levels of workers, with the study showing that a lack of flexibility and control over the physical work environment correlates with a lack of engagement’, the study said. In contrast, highly engaged employees are those that have the most flexibility over how and where they work.

The situation in the UK is likely to be influenced by the country’s dominance of open-plan design, with 49 per cent of workers based in this kind of space due to its cost-saving benefits. However, this can limit employees’ individual control over their environment.

Christine Congdon, director of Global Research Communication told Lux: ‘Our research has consistently shown that the most engaged workers are those who have autonomy over how and where they work, whether adjusting the temperature, lighting, or workspace to suit their needs. ‘When people feel like they have choice and control over various aspects of their physical work environment, it leads to greater satisfaction overall.

‘Everybody is different and personal preference will depend on an individual’s natural physiology, their mood on a particular day and the task they are working on. To cater to these constantly changing needs, employers should pay more attention to providing a range of working environments, including the ability to adjust workspace basics as required.’

The study was commissioned by office furniture manufacturer Steelcase.

  • The future of office lighting is one of the topics in this year’s programme at the LuxLive 2016 exhibition and conference in London on Wednesday 23 November and Thursday 24 November. Taking place at ExCeL London, entry is free if you pre-register. 


Main picture copyright Ripton Scott 2016