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Effects of Poor Workplace Lighting and How to Improve It

22 September 2023

What is the one thing that can make a workplace look different? Is it the furniture, color theme, or office layout? While each of these factors contribute to how your office looks and feels, none of these has an effect as profound as the office lighting. Poor workplace lighting can make your office look dull and gloomy. You've got to ensure the workplace lighting is just right to make your office a likable place for current employees and a catch for new ones!

Office lighting is one of the crucial factors that also have an impact on employee health, well-being, and productivity. Not many people give workplace lighting much thought because they don't know how it may affect them.

This blog highlights how poor workplace lighting may affect you and how you can improve it.

How Poor Workplace Lighting Affects You

By poor workplace lighting, we don't only mean a dimly lit workplace. If the lights in a workplace are too bright, that also falls under poor workplace lighting. Lighting, either too dim or too bright, directly impacts you in ways you never really thought about.

Let's look at some ways in which poor workplace lighting may (or is already) affect you.

Eye Strain

The first and biggest problem that poor workplace lighting can lead to is eye strain. Eye strain can make it difficult for you to work and this can affect your productivity big time. If your workplace is too dim, it'll be very difficult for your eyes to focus on something, especially if you've got to do a lot of reading. When you try too hard to focus, your eyes get strained, and you'll experience headaches. Continuing to work in poor lighting will eventually lead to the weakening of your eyesight. The eye strain can be worse if your office is dimly lit and the brightness of your computer screen is set at high.

Even if your office is too brightly lit with harsh lighting, that can also cause eye strain. Let's look at it this way; when you walk outdoors into the harsh sunlight during the sun's peak, do you feel your eyes getting strained? That's what harsh light can do. Constant exposure to bright light will affect your eyes and your eyesight.


As we've already mentioned, working in a poorly lit workplace will cause eye strain and make it harder for you to focus on what's in front of them, whether hard copies or soft copies. With that, you're bound to experience headaches. One can't focus on work with a headache. This will affect your productivity and efficiency at work because you'll be constantly distracted.

Increased Work Stress

Everything is closely related. When your office is poorly lit, you'll experience headaches which will directly impact your productivity and efficiency. When you're unable to deliver the expected results within the expected timeframe, you'll feel more stressed at work. Stress will further decrease your efficiency and performance, and things will only go further downhill from here. Your mental health and overall well-being will also get affected.

Increased Risk of Posture-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

If your office is poorly lit and you're unable to read properly, you'll bend forward towards the documents or your computer screen to get a clearer and closer view. Sitting with your head bent forward and your back curved for long hours every day puts strain on your neck, shoulders, and lower back muscles and puts you at a high risk of developing posture-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Increased Risk of Accidents

Another common consequence of poor workplace lighting is a higher risk of accidents. If the office lighting makes it difficult for you to see things clearly, the chances of you getting into work-related accidents is quite high.

Improving Workplace Lighting- What Can You Do

As we said in the beginning, poor workplace lighting can affect you more than you can ever imagine. But now that you know, it's wise to look into what options you've got to Improve workplace lighting.

We've listed some ways you can improve workplace lighting and make your workplace safer, healthier, and more comfortable.

Ensure Your Workplace is Adequately Lit

The first and best way to ensure your workplace is adequately lit is to arrange your workstation near the windows. Working near the windows to take advantage of natural light is one of the most effective and pocket-friendly ways of improving workplace lighting. Arrange your workstation so it's not directly in front of the window, which can cause eye strain when light falls directly on your eyes. It would help if you didn't even sit with your back to the window as it'll result in the light shining on your computer screen and affecting visibility.

If your workplace doesn't have large windows to light up the workplace with natural light, ensure that there are enough right lights.

Experts suggest that workplaces should have 300 to 500 lux illumination. You should choose light bulbs with a higher lumen (light output or brightness level). These light bulbs provide better light. Having a task light on your workstation will also make a difference. Task lights like Task lamp TA1004BK have a higher lux level, and the light coming from these light sources is more concentrated, making it easier for you to work on documents.

Get Rid of Shadows and Dark Spots

If the workplace has very bright lights, there'll be a formation of shadows and dark spots. Shadows and dark spots worsen the lighting ergonomics further and increase the risk of eye strain, headaches, and other related problems. It's critically important to eliminate these shadows and dark spots to improve workplace lighting.

Use a combination of indirect and direct lighting. This will help eliminate unwanted shadows and dark spots in your workplace. It ensures that your workstation is illuminated well.

If you don't know what direct and indirect lighting is, here's a brief explanation to help you get your workplace lighting right. Direct lighting is when the light from a light source falls directly on a specific area. Direct lighting sources spotlights, task lights, and overhead lights with shades. These lights cast their lights downwards. Indirect lighting provides light outside the direct scope, and the light from these types of lights spreads farther. They cast light upwards towards the ceiling.

When you combine direct and indirect lighting in the workplace, you get consistent ambient lighting from indirect sources. Direct lighting provides illumination to a specific work area, ensuring that both the workplace and workstation are adequately lit.

Adjust the Color Temperature

Another important aspect of workplace lighting is the color temperature. Not all lights deliver the desired effect. Adjusting the color temperature will make a significant difference. Color temperature is how cool or warm a light is. If you install lights with a warmer color temperature, they'll promote sleepiness, which is something you wouldn't want. Cooler color temperatures are known to increase productivity, so you should consider installing this type of lighting in your workplace.

Reduce Glare

When a bright light falls directly on your eyes or comes from an opposite direction and shines off the computer screen, it causes glare, resulting in eye strain. It also affects your ability to see duller areas of the office properly because your eyes are strained by the brightness of the incoming light. But there are many ways to reduce glare and improve your visibility.

You should arrange your work desk at a 90-degree angle with the window so that the light doesn't fall directly on your eyes or your computer screen. Adjusting the monitor brightness to match the surrounding brightness also reduces glare.

Other ways to improve workplace lighting to reduce glare include:

Use multiple low-intensity lights instead of a single high-intensity light source

Don't place your computer monitor directly below an overhead light

Install convectional fluorescent lights with diffusers to soften the light, so it doesn't strain the eyes

Cover bright bulbs with shade to soften the light and cast it outwards and away from the eyes

Adjust the Contrast Between Foreground and Background

The contrast between the foreground and background is how bright the foreground is in contrast to its background. If the contrast (color and brightness) between foreground and background is poor, it can make it difficult for you to see the objects in the foreground difficult.

To adjust this color contrast, you can start by adjusting the contrast of your computer monitor because that's what your eyes are focused on most of the day. See which contrast on the screen provides the best visibility.

As for the lighting contrast, ensure that the contrast between the foreground and background isn't too much. Start with ensuring that the lighting in the background is consistent and similar throughout, and then make your workstation brighter. You can do this by installing a task light.

Closing Words

Poor workplace lighting puts your well-being and productivity at risk. Ensuring adequate workplace lighting will help you safeguard the health of your eyes and boost your productivity.