How Does Lighting Improve Productivity?

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Not only does being productive leave you filled with a sense of purpose, it can also be mood-lifting, flooding a person with endorphins that give energy and motivation. The science shows that the companies that get the most out of their employees curate a workplace environment that encourages feelings of productivity. And – for all the happy hours, yoga DJs, and fortune tellers – it can be as simple as using your ceiling. 

By and large, the data shows that employees with the most exposure to natural light report the highest levels of happiness and rates of productivity. But what if large amounts of natural light aren’t on the table for your facility? Some of the most common productivity killers include lights that flicker, are too dim (or too bright), and/or don’t allow employees to focus. How do you decide on the best lighting for productivity?

How Does Lighting Improve Productivity?

A 2010 LumaStream study showed that high-quality LED lighting not only improved employees’ moods and feelings of wakefulness but also brought an 8.3% improvement to all visual and cognitive tasks completed. A related study concluded that appropriately selected and installed LED light fixtures improved employees’ moods by 33%, resulting in a 5.76% increase in work efficiency and an 8.34% improvement to work performance. 

Better light is better for eyesight. Better visual conditions lead to better task performance as it pertains to speed and mistake rates, accident rates, absenteeism, and other well-being metrics. But good light is about more than good eyesight. Daylight conditions have an intricate relationship with a human being’s central nervous system, sending signals to our biological clock that regulate a lot of bodily functions, like: the sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, and hormonal balance of cortisol and melatonin. 

It’s easy to cast off this information as impossible to apply to your operations. Some buildings are just cut out better for daylight exposure than others. Yet evidence shows that the benefits of natural light can largely be recreated by using the right kind of indoor lighting system. And, in workplaces where these conditions are met, the results are consistently workforces with elevated moods, focus levels, and production rates.

Different Types of Lighting and Their Effect on Productivity

It’s important to remember that not all light is good light. The harsh UV cast by fluorescent light contains toxic mercury and can cause eye issues. Fluorescent lights are also omni-directional, meaning that up to 70% of the light given off is wasted. High intensity discharge lights (HID) contain hazardous radioactive materials, take a long time to turn on, and only convert 36% of their consumed energy to light. Incandescent lights are even more severe, expending 90% of their energy on heat, which causes short lifespans, require repeated maintenance, and a real risk of fire hazard. 

The closest you can get to duplicating natural light is by installing a smart LED lighting system. LED light is the closest to natural light, and LED systems come with powerful tools that let you precisely control the lighting throughout your facility by customizing secondary optics to different workplaces based on individual need. LED lights are shown to improve light quality to a degree that it boosts employee mood, morale, and productivity, and they can last up to 50 times as long as other lights on 75% less energy.

Smiling worker in well lit, productive work environment

How to Optimize Lighting for Productivity

Understanding some of the basic science behind good lighting is key for optimizing the role light plays in your workplace. Your first priority should always be to increase your facility’s exposure to natural light. Then familiarize yourself with large-scale artificial lighting measurements and recommendations. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) provides recommended footcandles – a footcandle is defined as the illuminance on a one square foot surface from a uniform source of light – for a range of workplace environments, as do other sources. Consider how different fixture types, sizes, and shapes will have different strengths throughout your building. 

One of the most important things to remember about an LED retrofit is that no single system is a catch-all solution. The secret lies in using the tools to configure a custom setup for your situation. When you partner with a team of LED experts, you work with a team that can identify the unique pain points in your system and design a system that specifically solves your challenges, saves you money, and reduces your waste. From initial audit to post-project support, at PEC we take you through a multi-phase installation process, leaving you with a system built to last that doesn’t need regular, costly maintenance.  


Amidst a global market shaped by rapid change, tireless competition, and unavoidable truths about the environment, to be efficient – to do more with less – has never been more advantageous for businesses of any kind. It’s common to do a lighting audit and discover an old lighting system that wastes energy and potentially creates other negative byproducts. Any business looking to gain a competitive, operational advantage should assess its lighting systems. A few straightforward lighting changes may not only cut down on energy bills, but could also influence employee productivity to a degree that creates considerable value for the company as a whole. If you think the lighting in your facility could use a lighting upgrade, get in touch so we can learn more about your needs.

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