Continuing our series of guest blogs by speakers and supporters of our up-coming Workplace Trends Autumn Conference in London: People, Place, Performance, Durable’s Jonathan Brune introduces the concept of Visual Ergonomics.
Mega-trends like increasing digitisation, individualisation and urbanisation are rapidly changing the way we work. For example, it is no longer necessary to work in one place. Modern workplace designs and office furniture already strongly favour agile working, open office layouts and flexibility.
Ergonomic workspaces are playing an increasing role in today’s working world. Desk-sharing workstations must allow different users to adjust the desk height, seating and monitor position.
Acoustic systems are installed to absorb high noise emissions as well as improved ventilation and air-conditioning units to support better air quality.
However, lighting, which is also an essential aspect of workplace economics, often remains completely unconsidered.
Why we need ‘good’ light?
When planning a workplace, Lighting Designers often operate on the principle that the definition of ‘light’ is ‘enough to be able to see well and cope with the tasks that will be undertaken in the space’.
Yet, recent scientific research shows that ‘light’ is far from being sufficient to provide good vision. This becomes particularly significant when comparing people of different age groups.
As a result of the darkening of the eye lens with age, a 60-year-old requires approximately two to two and a half times as much illuminance as a mid-20-year-old to achieve comparable vision.
The importance of Biologically Effective Light
Everyone has a personal daily rhythm which is ‘circadian’, meaning that it is driven by light and roughly synchronised with day and night.
Clinical studies have proven that some modern LED lamps which can almost completely replicate the colour spectrum of sunlight have a biological effect on the production of the hormone melatonin, just like sunlight. So these lamps can give you the same biological ‘triggers’ as you get outside even when you are indoors.
Biologically Effective Light can:
- Provide the body with light signals which set its internal clock in an indoor environment
- Have a stabilising effect on our biological rhythm
- Help avoid the consequences of a disrupted circadian rhythm such as insomnia, irritability and lack of concentration
- Encourage longer and deeper sleep
- Encourage better wellbeing and performance
Are the current regulations for light enough?
Planning regulations exist for new and renovated buildings which ensure a minimum level of illuminance and uniformity of light distribution. But there are a few flaws in these principles:
- A single source of uniform light cannot be adjusted and therefore does not fit with the principles of agile working
- Uniform light does not consider that each user requires a different level of light illuminance to work
- They do not embrace the latest findings about the biological effect of light
So it can be argued that traditional lighting concepts are falling behind other areas of a workplace in adapting to modern working. They no longer fit the New Work Order. But increasing knowledge of the importance of Visual Ergonomics is set to change this.
What is Visual Ergonomics?
Visual ergonomics is providing flexible workplace lighting. Just as you can adjust an office chair to suit a user’s requirements, you can change the light over your work station.
Visual ergonomics allows you to:
- Individually adjust the light illuminance and colour temperature over your workspace
- Move the light to suit your working practices
- Use intuitive lighting solutions with presence and light sensors to turn lights on/off and adjust automatically
Unfortunately many lighting systems do not have these features as standard so remember to check and request them when specifying your lighting requirements.