4 Key Lighting Design Considerations for Post-COVID
Here's how is Earth that survived a COVID pandemic will impact tomorrow's lightning designs of offices.
When we think of the offices of the future, an image comes to mind: Computer screens are projected whenever and wherever we want. Spaces that can be instantly reconfigured to accommodate a single employee or many employees. Automatically adjustable seats to combat fatigue. We can see all of these and more. But a crucial element of any workplace is poised to have more impact on our future workspaces than any adjustable furniture or sci-fi computer monitor. So what is that key element? It is the light itself.
Although light is a basic necessity for daily life and work, it has often remained in the background in the design of workspaces. On a sunny day, in a modern building with large windows, you might not think about office lighting at all. But slide your seat into the interior of that building, or factor in smaller windows and a longer workday, and that's when the importance of lighting becomes more prominent.
Office lighting can often be an afterthought for workplace designers, but careful integration of lighting into the design from the start can result in a lighting design that not only supports productivity and workplace health, but also creates additional functionality for the space, providing enhanced navigation and even functionality. A bright, adaptable (and cost-effective) environment can be created to strengthen corporate identity and branding.
In offices of past years, lighting was often accomplished by rows of pendant fluorescent fixtures with controls that offer two settings: all on, humming, in their dazzling splendor, or completely off. The modern lighting design has been transformed with LED technology and advanced controls that allow for features such as dimming according to today's energy regulation requirements. Today's common open-ceiling office construction, which saves on ceiling construction costs, also has various effects on lighting design. This should be accomplished with fully finished fixtures that look good from any angle and are carefully tailored to illuminate work areas without emphasizing the mechanics visible in the ceiling above. Lighting has become part of office branding and decor, with luminaires doubling as art installations or dramatic visual focal points in central gathering places and entry points.
While the widespread closures accompanying the current pandemic have changed our thinking about what offices should and will be like in the post-pandemic future and have created widespread uncertainty over the design of offices, several overarching focus areas have emerged and each has been affected. with lighting.
Future workspaces will need to respond to the desire for greater flexibility to change the space or reconfigure it on the fly to meet different work styles or needs, or to respond to something like the coronavirus pandemic. New lighting technologies and advanced controls allow a system to be reconfigured via software, eliminating the need for rewiring should a workspace change or serve a new function. In some cases, these systems allow control from a remote location – even from home – and can be used to shut down unused parts of the system or set up to maximize power savings, reducing the cost to building operators. The advanced technology will also facilitate troubleshooting of lighting systems, for example by flagging a faulty fixture and allowing maintenance teams to respond before a repair alert is generated by users in the field.
2. Individual Selections
Developing the ability to allow individuals to control their own work environment will become more important in the offices of the future, become a key enabler, and allow companies to become more inclusive. These changes will not only allow end users to track their preferences, but may also allow people with disabilities or neuro-diverse to customize their environments in ways that enable them to achieve greater success and engagement in the workplace.
Lighting has an important role to play, with advances in fixtures and controls allowing end users to seamlessly control them from a workstation, phone or even a mobile device. Employees will be able to control the color setting and dimming, then adjust an individual light quality if a new area is assigned, shifting their settings to the new area and tracking them. Obviously, best practices for these systems will include some limitations in end-user control, but the ability to create settings that fit individual workspaces is virtually limitless.
3. Health and Wellness
Health and wellness are concerns that have taken on a new urgency during the pandemic and are likely to remain in mind in every area going forward, including our office spaces. One aspect of creating a truly healthy office is to create the appropriate light quality.
As mammals, our bodies want to connect to the sunlight. We must experience the daily rhythm of morning, noon, night, and a physical connection with light helps promote health. Yet we can't all be near a window in a workplace. Advanced lighting systems allow white balance to mimic daylight and can be calibrated to any position based on distance from actual sunlight. This has been shown to protect worker productivity and health, and is a simple way for employers to invest in the well-being of their workforce as they strive to create a quality environment for their workers. Digital lighting protocols make it easy to install and maintain, meaning that future offices will pay more attention to this detail.
Improved workplace safety will continue to be a concern in the future, and lighting offers a variety of enhanced safety features in the workplace. Luminaires with built-in sensors monitor the movement of people and portable equipment, as well as space usage, providing an additional layer of safety and security. Lighting can also be used to improve wayfinding techniques and to encourage certain traffic patterns that can help establish social distancing. Sensors can also save costs: Studies have also shown that with one sensor per fixture, users are less likely to override them, resulting in greater energy savings. By paying attention to the overall lighting design, these sensors can be implemented without affecting the quality of light in an area.
As we look to the next chapter in the lives of our workplaces, change is inevitable and optimism about what these future offices can be seems to be well-founded. Creating a healthier, more inclusive and smarter workplace has never been easier – and updated lighting designs are sure to play a big role in guiding the way.