Lighting - Well-being and Performance at Work

A challenge for employers and researchers is to design work environments that meet the needs of the 21st century workforce, and which ensure maximum levels of well-being and performance.This report reviews existing research on the impact of lighting on performance and well-being in the workplace.

With rapid development of information and communication technology, a growing emphasis on knowledge intensive work, and increases in globalisation and workplace diversity, workers today are having to cope with a far greater pace of change than before. Their roles are becoming increasingly complex, with more emphasis on service-oriented and customer-facing work. The challenge for employers and researchers therefore is to design work environments that can best meet the needs of 21st century workers, and which ensure maximum levels of well-being and performance.

Many important and interdependent factors can impact on well-being and performance at work. An extensive academic literature search has documented many different individual and organisational-level factors that can contribute to sustainable healthy productive work environments. Despite evidence that workplace lighting impacts on factors like worker safety, visual acuity and productivity at work, there have been surprisingly few systematic investigations of the impact of lighting on worker well-being and productivity. The limited studies which exist have been undertaken primarily by vision researchers, and as such there has been little attempt so far to link knowledge and practice from the two academic fields of management and vision research.

This report aims to address this gap in our understanding. It is aimed at chief executives and senior corporate decision-makers, as well as members of the wider research community, who may be looking for ideas and information about the impact of lighting on workplace well-being and performance. The main objectives in this report have been to (a) consolidate findings from existing studies and evaluate evidence regarding the relationship between lighting and employee well-being and performance, and (b) explore the ways in which work is changing and identify how new developments in the lighting field might assist in the design of work environments capable of enhancing organisational well-being and performance.

The report lists a number of key findings:

  • Research shows there is good evidence of an association between lighting and work performance, mediated by employee well-being.
  • Lighting is one of several factors that combine to create healthy work environments. These in turn help promote employee engagement, well-being and productivity.
  • There is growing evidence for a link between lighting conditions, shift-work and biological health conditions: an area likely to receive more attention from researchers in future.
  • Standards regulating lighting conditions have increased the focus on the importance of lighting and visual health among workers
  • Worker controlled lighting and lighting solutions tailored to the individual needs of workers have considerable potential for enhancing employees' work satisfaction and enhancing retention.
  • The increasing need for employers to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions may constitute an opportunity to look at how adaptable lighting schemes can create more flexible work environments and contribute to innovation and productivity.

In its conclusion the report recommends that companies invest in workplace lighting that can contribute to a workplace supportive of well-being and performance. Decisions on the role that lighting can play should be central to strategy for organisational performance and therefore made at board-level. Companies should strive to identify the needs of different employee groups and address them through company-wide, worker-focused initiatives.

Philips commissioned research into this area in 2010 and this report represents a review of that research. The full report is available for download below.


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