Apart from the pretty obvious aesthetic advantages of good office lighting, it has also emerged as the necessity for employees’ health and better work performance
Office – A term that automatically portrays a place, where 100s of employees are busy on their workstations, performing the jobs they have been assigned, according to their respective KRAs. And the space brings forth a very bright picture with all-round illumination including the corners. But are they well-lit or properly illuminated to help employees enjoy the lighting and feel more energetic than exhausted?
This is an important question when it comes to lighting spaces, especially workplaces. Lighting has an inevitable impact on human beings. Since most of us spend much of our daytime hours at work, it becomes important to have quality lighting in the workplaces. It is this necessity that keeps not only the lighting designers but also the manufacturers exploring a lighting solution that can help employees feel good, concentrate, and be more efficient.
No wonder, the office lighting trends continue to evolve with time and technological developments. Further, it closely follows the structural change, taking place in the office building, to not only match the aesthetics, but also the illumination requirements. However, despite the fact that LEDs have conquered almost every lighting application; it failed to take over and prevail in the office environment.
For instance, the most recent switch is over to LED from T5, wherein offices have been slower than others to mark the change, largely because of the prevailing technology – T5, which is still highly efficient for diffused area lighting, and way cheaper than LEDs. Another example in the league is the louvers, a trend which came following a guideline that was written in the 1980s to prevent glare on computer screens. Recessed louvered fittings that create a cave effect became the norm in offices that still exist in most of the workplaces.
However, the latest guidance for workplace lighting puts the focus where it belongs, i.e.; on people. As rightly pointed out by Rakesh Zutshi, President, Elcoma, and Managing Director, Halonix Technologies Pvt. Ltd., “With open-plan spaces becoming the new norm in the offices, the trends of office lighting has also witnessed a sea change over the years. From work lamps to ceiling lights and spotlights everything has gone through complete transformation as per the requirements of the modern workplaces.”
This, together with the design freedom offered by LEDs, louvers are getting replaced with some kind of crazy modern designs or LED panels. Though slowly, but the tide is turning with LEDs, which are getting more and more efficient and highly controllable with each passing day, featuring quicker paybacks. As big manufacturers go all LEDs, it may soon be the only choice.
As Zutshi suggests, “Office designers have now started using advanced LED lighting for illumination into modern offices and these lights are loaded with such inspiring features that the office workers can even adjust their temperature and colour rendering index as per their requirements.”
According to V. P. Mahendru, CMD, Eon Electric Ltd., over the period of last few years, the LEDs have transformed the way lighting was perceived with the conventional light sources. “Fluorescent lights which at one point were the most popular choice for their high visibility and cool feature, have now been replaced by LEDs which have more variants than simply being cool with enhanced visibility and are even more efficient and economical.”
Anirudh Kajaria, Business Head, Century LED Ltd. opines that earlier, people used to be only concerned about the illumination in their offices. “But, the time has changed now as they have started following the contemporary trends in the office lighting. Today’s corporate culture not only demands well-illuminated offices, but also asks them to look aesthetically advanced. Office lighting has now taken a centre-stage to create a more joyful and healthy work environment for optimum productivity.”
Tushar Gupta, Executive Director, NTL Lemnis too advocates that over the years, lighting in offices has got a complete facelift. “Instead of generic coverage of office space, activity-based lighting is preferred, turning the whole concept of illumination in the office. The focus has shifted greatly from aesthetics only, to the specific-activity being performed at the workspaces thereby providing optimal lighting for the task that the employees are performing at that particular point in time.”
Impact of LEDs on Office Lighting
Office lighting has improved dramatically over the last 25 years. Gone are the days of flickering fluorescent lighting systems, which contained tar, mercury and polychlorinated PCBs, which are harmful to the environment and can adversely impact human health.
Almost all the lighting solution providers are favouring LEDs for it being the most efficient and flexible for creating a perfect environment, irrespective of the spaces– be it office, residence, commercial establishments, hotels, hospitals, etc. This clearly shows that the advent of LEDs have fully changed the way lighting was used few years ago.
According to Zutshi, introduction of LEDs in lighting has totally revolutionised the lighting system. “Their exclusive features like energy-efficiency, durability, cost-effectiveness and ‘environment-friendliness have played a major role in making them preferred choice for modern offices. Not only this, LED lighting can provide illumination that is very close to the natural one and so their usage results into increased work-efficiency of the employees.”
While Kajaria highlights another interesting angle when he says that LED lights provide right degree of intensity and brightness to create a conducive work environment, Gupta goes in a little more detail, “LEDs are a very versatile light source and offers clear, focused lighting with very little wastage. LEDs are not only energy-efficient, but are also maintenance and hassle-free owing to their long lifespan. With the onset of newer technologies, it is way easier to integrate with controls as the complete fixture comes from one source. LEDs have totally changed the aesthetics and design of office lighting.”
Mahendru favours that with the introduction of quality LED lighting, the life of lighting system as well as the quality of light have improved drastically. “LED bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer better quality of light than traditional or conventional lights of the past. In addition, LED lighting can provide a wide range of colour temperatures to create desired ambience, many of which are fully dimmable with an extensive range of beam-angles that can be tailored to suit the desired distribution.”
Current Trend in Office Lighting
In today’s world, office spaces are designed and developed to function according to the specific needs of various businesses and enhances the performance of those who work within its walls. This has made the design of office so important and that’s why design trends are constantly changing and adapting to the demands of the businesses.
Amidst all this, the role of lighting must not be ignored as it truly complements the design parameters as well as the purpose, which may get defeated in the absence of proper illumination. There’s no denial of the fact that lighting directly impacts our ability to work and be at our most productive, attentive, and creative every day that we step foot in our workplace. All this, when put together, defines the trend of office lighting.
“In today’s time, the structure of the workplace is changing from a closed environment to a more open space to encourage collaboration and team working in the most efficient way. This has affected the lighting needs of a workplace. People now prefer integrated ceiling, where lighting system is used to create a channel of lights that gives an uncluttered and uninterrupted look to the place,” says Kajaria.
Being a bit elaborative, Gupta adds, “For new offices, the current trend is to ensure maximum natural light, while designing the workplaces. This can be undertaken by using design features such as glass extensively. It has been scientifically proven that mimicking natural light properties can enhance the feeling of well-being and comfort.”
He continues that since we know light impacts mood and performance, offices today can prefer to have the right fixture and the right LED in terms of CCT (Correlated Colour Temperature), CRI (Colour Rendering Index), SDCM (Standard Deviation Colour Matching) etc. This has actually become the trend with LEDs wherein the choices have become endless.
Going further, Gupta points out, “With evolution in technology, we believe that LiFi will become more accepted, which is at a nascent stage and will take some more time to be pervasive. However, soon the connected office will become a reality. A large number of companies are already experimenting with IoT lighting, indicating it as the future game changer. This will also promote employees’ well-being and enhance productivity, which in turn would become the growth driver for the lighting industry as a whole.”
Zutshi opines that individual spaces being allocated to the employees are gradually declining in the modern offices. “Proper illumination has become the need of the hour. For this purpose, state-of-the-art connected lighting system is being introduced in the modern offices. Such lighting system allows employees to personalise the lighting and temperature at their workspaces using a specially designed smartphone app.”
Stressing on the need of connected lighting, Sumit Joshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Philips Lighting India, underscores that as India’s business landscape matures, expectations of a new generation of employees from their workplaces have increased. “We see employers adopting new technologies to boost their employees’ engagement and productivity. These developments have led to the emergence of smart and connected offices, where the ‘IoT’ (Internet of Things) drives new ways to collaborate, innovate and socialise,” shares Joshi.
According to him, it is not surprising that in today’s fast-changing business environment, new ideas such as Connected Lighting are being implemented in workspaces that facilitate a culture of innovation based on collaboration. “Applications of light continue to grow, redefining the role of light but also the way employees can optimise and interact with their respective workplaces. Therefore, with connected lighting, offices can offer employees the ability to personalise the lighting in their immediate work area that can have a profound effect on their wellbeing and effectiveness,” explains Joshi.
Issues in Office Lighting
There is hardly any doubt that the evolving landscape of the workplace requires innovative thinking. While offices focus on issues such as ergonomics and adequate breaks, lighting is one thing that they consistently overlook. There are a number of ways that lighting in the workplace can affect employees. In today’s corporate world, the main concern is proper illumination in the absence of which employees generally become the victim of stress and fatigue due to inappropriate lighting arrangements in the contemporary office spaces. This adversely affects employees’ health and productivity.
High glare due to increased use of laptops and high-performance monitors’ screens, are not letting them work continuously. Adding to these, are the frequent power cuts and voltage fluctuations, followed by high cost of maintenance, which together have emerged as the major issues in today’s offices. Also, continuous surge in the energy cost has become one of the important factors to consider. For all these to be addressed, thanks to the country’s lighting giants, who are ready with their respective portfolios to tackle such issues. They promise the solutions that are majorly designed to withstand dire Indian conditions.
Factors to Be Considered for Office Lighting
Various factors are considered while planning illuminating keeping in the way an office or work space is evolving. “There are some really important factors that one must keep in mind while illuminating the office spaces. For instance, the overall cost to install and maintain the lighting products in the entire office. The construction and style of the space should also be taken into account, while creating a perfect balance between the direct and indirect light. In order to restrict or reduce mental fatigue and tiredness, lighting with low glare must be used in the office space,” suggests Kajaria.
According to Gupta, there are three main factors that are to be considered for illuminating an office – luminance requirement, light distribution and glare quotient. “Increasing the level of illumination enables people to work safely and efficiently. This does not change from office to office. However, there is a difference between lighting requirements of densely populated offices and those with wide open spaces. The focus is more on functionality in small offices, while along with it, the aesthetics is also a large contributor to the overall lighting design in big corporate offices.”
Delving further in this, Zutshi advocates that creating a combination of various types of lighting for proper illumination is a must. “Colour, illumination levels, light output, proper lighting needs in each zone of the office – like reception area and the open office spaces, etc, are the major factors that are considered while going for illuminating an office. Be it a small office, or a big corporate one, not paying attention to any of these factors will not allow meeting the objective of proper illumination.”
Mahendru insists that the placement of the light sources and the illumination level relevant to the eyes of the people are important to avoid glare or shadows. “Large offices have invariably large number of light sources, and hence, their placements with reference to the illumination requirement based on the activity performed in that particular area is more important. This problem does not exist in the case of smaller offices, as there are very few light points that too are more or less centrally placed for an evenly spread illumination level.”
There are quite a few components adding to the growth of office lighting. It’s not only the new establishments but also the renovation markets that are showing great potentials. “I believe that the biggest factor is still the fact that LEDs help rein in the energy requirements. Today, with the focus on environment, a larger number of offices are shifting away from the typical energy guzzlers at workplace and moving towards energy efficient lighting,” says Gupta.
According to him, the cost of acquisition of LEDs has been going down drastically and then there are faster ROIs that have together made the replacement market more attractive. “Besides, the focus on new infrastructure development has also led to an increase in lighting requirements with visible growth in this segment,” he adds.
Speaking about the potential, Gupta informs that for NTL Lemnis, it is a combination of both new establishments as well as the renovation market. “However, the quantum is more for the renovation or replacement market. A larger number of workplaces today are looking at replacing the energy guzzlers like halogens and CFLs with the more energy efficient and maintenance free LED options and this is what we provide through a very robust product line,” he shares adding that most of NTL’s LED products can be easily replaced in the existing conventional lighting fixtures.
“Out of the around 250 different types of products that we have in the NTL portfolio, over 100 are for office lighting, meeting any type of lighting requirements. Currently, we have adequate product range in our portfolio with which we can target major chunk of the market. But at the same time for the new office establishments we are putting focused effort on the development of new product range,” explains Gupta.
Zutshi expects this office lighting segment to grow tremendously over the long term on account of the demand coming from massively growing modern offices and the new trend of shared offices especially across the tier-I and “India is passing through a phase of complete transformation in terms of modern office space creation due to the growing market of IT, ITes, BPOs and multinational companies. We are witnessing major demand coming from new office establishments all across the country,” he avers.
Halonix is looking forward to capture major market share in office lighting segment with its latest range of products. “As a brand that stands for ‘The Right Light’, Halonix continues to push the boundaries to develop better solutions and adapted to Indian conditions across the spectrum of home and institutional lighting. With pan-India distribution, sales and service capabilities, we are delivering these efficient, energy-saving and environment-friendly lighting products to all the corners of India,” Zutshi asserts.
Kajaria believes that if the office lighting solutions that you offer consume less energy and help in recreating a healthy work environment, then nothing can stop you from growing. “For Century LED, there is a lot of potential in the renovation or replacement market, where offices are switching from traditional lights to LED. And to capture, we have come up with productsthat are specially designed for small as well as large office spaces, with low Unified Glare Rating(UGR) and high energy savings,” he says.
Going in similar line, Mahendru highlights that high efficiency, reliability and longer lifespan are expected to drive LED lighting demand over conventional technologies. “High brightness level, condensed size, low power consumption and robust nature of the sources of light are some of the factors projected to trigger lighting industry growth. Besides, the demand for the office space is on continuous rise, as the net space use is estimated to rise to 41 million sqft with annual growth of around 1.5%,”he informs.
He strongly feels that demand for office and commercial space is expected to be driven by occupiers from IT/ITeS, banking, financial& insurance (BFSI) sectors. “Apart from these, start-up co-working companies and data centers focusing on digitisation would bring huge potential for our updated lightning sector with the support of LED lights.With all these in favour, we are very optimistic. Further, the infrastructure setup requirements by large MNCs facilitate us to bridge the gap by providing the best of smart lightning solutions to such companies. We offer products which are of global benchmark with best in quality at affordable prices as they incorporate best of technological and innovative products,”he asserts.
Portfolio of Solution Providers
So for all these, what our lighting solution providers have in their respective bouquets? Where do they have an edge over their competitors? Do their offerings have everything that is required to match the contemporary needs of modern offices or for renovating the existing workplaces? Where do they have the competitive advantage over others? How are they making it easier for the occupants to make more from their offerings? However, most of the lighting solution providers claim that they have products that can withstand Indian conditions.
The goal today is to go beyond creating an illumination that is sustainable and energy-efficient. The lighting requirement today is not only to gel with the architecture but to let occupants/employees feel energetic, making them more efficient, productive, and inspired. With well-being firmly in place as a lighting design staple, new products have been developed from the trends of yesterday that are being implemented in offices, making people happier, healthier, and more excited than ever to walk into work each day.
Halonix claims to have created a competitive edge to beat the competition in the office lighting segment with its keen focus on innovation and quality control. “We have robust pan-India presence with our depots and service representatives available all across India. The success of Halonix has been built on the back of its unparalleled ability to develop, test and deploy lighting solutions because of the keen focus on innovation and quality control,” says Zutshi adding that as for now connected lighting systems are frequently in use for illumination purposes in offices. “These systems support sustainability goals and provide base for the growing push towards smart buildings across the country.”
NTL emphasises that it has been the first and the foremost lighting electronics company, wherein its key USP is the robustness of the electronics. “Our wide range of product offerings helps us reach out and meet the requirements for any kind of office lighting. In addition, the Unified Glare Rating (UGR) of less than 22 helps our products provide optimal lighting for any workspace requirements,” asserts Gupta adding that for now ceiling and downlights are prevalent in office spaces. “Within the ceiling light category, there are various options for illumination like direct and indirect lighting, or a combination of both. Among the options of sizes, the most sold are 2X2 and 4X1. The lights could be mounted as recessed, surface or pendant.”
Century LED boasts about offering a wide range of superior quality and energy-efficient LED lighting products at highly competitive prices. “Low glare downlights, tile lights, accent lighting and PLL–retrofit solutions are generally preferred to be used in office spaces,” opines Kajaria.
Eon Electric vaunts its lighting products for offices as per global standards at competitive prices. “Our finished products pass through various stages of tests before coming into the market such as R&D and multiple level of testing, thus giving us an extra edge over our competitors,” avers Mahendru adding that recessed down-lighters are commonly used in number of offices and commercial settings, while the high-efficiency and directional nature of LEDs are very commonly used for industrial purposes. “We are the leaders in the energy-efficient lighting domain and we try to provide highly efficient and best of lighting solutions to our customers to facilitate them keeping a good balance between natural and artificial light to avoid shadows and glare in offices.”
Amidst all this the global lighting major, Philips marks it as the era of connected lighting. “We, at Philips Lighting offer a wide range of connected office lighting solutions such as Power over Ethernet connected lighting that enables employees to customize their lighting and helps building managers gain valuable insights into the building usage. At the same time it gives office workers more control of an open plan environment, aiding comfort and productivity,” says Joshi.
Highlighting why Philips is insisting on connected lighting, he explains that with a profit orientation, organisations are also focusing on building energy-efficient green offices, enabling optimal use of available resources. “Connected LED lighting also allows building managers to monitor and analyse building usage data in real time, enabling them to identify efficiencies and control other facilities such as air conditioning, heating and meeting room availability,” he elaborates adding that this can drive down energy consumption by up to 80% compared to conventional lighting, allowing businesses to slash their carbon footprint and drastically reduce their running costs.
Since the impact of lighting is directly proportionate to employees’ productivity and efficiency, the focus of the lighting manufacturers have started shifting from merely offering products to becoming one among the solution providers. This automatically augments their purview to include wider perspective in their respective portfolios. The aim is to avoid bad lighting that causes several problems, such as headaches and eye strain, which can lead to more serious health issues later on. It can also cause neck, back, and shoulder pain because people strain their bodies to see things. Gloomy lighting can also cause depression and lead to more concerned state of mind.
Now being reasonably scientific, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a paper detailing how inadequate lighting can contribute to the poor response to treatment of and exacerbation of psychiatric conditions, including mood disorders; while light can have potent biological and therapeutic effects. This is why it is vital to get workplace lighting right.