Survey: This everyday thing makes 40% of workers uncomfortable in the office

If lights are too dim, lack of light exposure can lead to serious mood changes and contribute to seasonal affective disorder.

In the winter, it can be easy to get down in the office. It’s cold. It’s dark. It may even feel oppressive. There’s a reason for all that.

There is a workplace crisis facing our world today. That crisis can affect your mood and become a heavy burden to carry. And that crisis is office lighting.

According to a recent survey commissioned by the United Kingdom-based company Staples (which does indeed sell office lighting) and conducted by independent research agency Arlington Research, the problem is widespread and affecting employees across Europe. 7,000 office workers from Sweden, the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Finland weighed in on the debate, and it turns out office lighting matters to a lot of people.

Thirty-two percent of office workers said that “better lighting would make them happier at work,” according to the survey. Meanwhile, 40% said the lighting in their office was uncomfortable. And 80% of UK office workers said their office’s lighting was important to them.

Why do people care?

Lighting can have a lot of different effects; fluorescent lights can even be a reason some employees suffer from migraines at work. But one distinctive problem emerges in the winter. If lights are too dim, lack of light exposure can lead to serious mood changes and contribute to seasonal affective disorder.

What to do?

Never fear! Staples not only cites a lack of good lighting as a “harsh reality” in too many offices; it also offers “a way forward.”

“For employers that want to make a difference, solutions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps are proven to help workers that might otherwise suffer from light deprivation at darker times of the year. Research has also shown that in the morning, a cold-tone light with high illuminance values is best for productivity. Biodynamic lighting will then allow this to transition to reduced brightness and set a relaxing warm-tone light in the afternoon/evening,” the company’s December 2018 report suggests.

When 40% of office workers are frustrated by having to deal with poor lighting, there’s a convincing argument for doing something to fix the problem. And perhaps good lighting is what will make employees happier and more comfortable at work. Only time will tell.

Alexandra Villarreal|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at avillarreal@theladders.com.