Bright alone is not enough


The right lighting in the workplace not only promotes concentration, but also well-being. This finding reflects industry trends such as HCL technology or luminaires with individual lighting scenarios. The office planner Stefan Kleinhenz explains in an interview why this topic is important, which legal requirements exist and what an ideal lighting in the office looks like.

What significance does the topic of light have in the office?


Lighting in the office plays an important role in two ways. On the one hand, it is of course an incredible feel-good factor. In my opinion, a pleasant working atmosphere is directly related to the right light. Particularly in modern office concepts, where classic workplaces are supplemented by zones such as work cafés, green islands, retreats, etc., each room or zone must be given a suitable light situation for use. On the other hand, light is an efficiency factor, especially in computer work. If you z. B. constantly blinded by a reflection in the monitor or in the handwritten work does not have enough light, which complicates the already exhausting and tedious visual tasks in the office.

Which legal requirements apply to the lighting in offices?

First there is the Workplace Ordinance, in which basic requirements are formulated. In addition, there are concretions z. As in the technical rules for workplaces and various DIN standards. The specifications relate, inter alia, to the minimum illuminance, the aspect of glare-free lighting or the matching of the lighting to the type of visual task and the eyesight of the employee. If there is paper to work with, there must be other light than screen work, and a person with glasses has the right to lighting conditions that consider this tool. As a result, each workstation would need to have individual lighting. Corresponding systems exist but often cost many times as simple solutions as e.g. Direct lighting via mirror grid lights on the ceiling. And since most decision-makers are more concerned with the initial investment rather than the long-term cost-benefit ratio, they often choose solutions that only meet the minimum brightness requirement - 500 lux in the workplace. This is not enough for a good and compliant lighting, but due to a lack of control by the authorities and a lack of knowledge of the staff and internal audit institutions, the disrespect usually has no consequences.

 

How is it that employees do not know the specifications or their rights?

The user just does not deal with the subject of lighting. In the normal case, it is sufficiently bright in the office due to daylight and / or artificial light. At first, many employees are not more interested. Only when a problem arises do they try to solve it concretely. For example, anyone blinded turns their screen or creates an improvised glare shield. However, as part of our work, we have found that employees very well use and appreciate the possibility of individual lighting control - if available. I think that every person already has a feeling for which light conditions are optimal for him personally in the respective situation.

What distinguishes good workplace lighting from your point of view?


First and foremost, it is important to make the best possible use of daylight. Only then does the artificial light come into play. This should be easy to use, which can be achieved, among other things, via automatic functions such as presence detectors and daylight sensors. In addition, the user should always have the opportunity to change his lighting scenario spontaneously and easily. Glare-free office lighting should be taken for granted today. The light color should always be as close as possible to the daylight. Daylight is dynamic, constantly changing, so it is our clock and timer and so artificial light should ideally be dynamic. Therefore, I support in principle models with the so-called HCL technology (Human Centric Lighting), even if the preprogrammed color curves are often too manipulative for me today and do not really simulate daylight.

In recent years, more and more luminaires with HCL technology have been launched on the market. Is this feature the current trend in the industry?

 

Yes, absolutely, you can see that at the fairs like the "Light & Building" or the "Orgatec". Luminaires with HCL technology also correspond to another trend in the world of work - individualization. This concerns the whole room or the complete equipment and shows itself among other things in height-adjustable desks or individual air conditioning. From this point of view, there will be further developments in lighting, in my opinion. For example, with apps that store an individual lighting scenario that automatically sets when you reach your workspace. This makes sense first and foremost in finding desk sharing more meaningful, because then my settings "follow" me virtually to any desk. Also for this there are already first series ready systems in the market.

 

A luminaire that has taken the trend of customization and is also available with HCL technology is the Attenzia Space floor lamp by Novus Dahle. You have tested a model for several weeks. What is your impression?

What I like best is that I can control the light exactly where I want it. At the moment I do not know any other lamp that makes that possible. Thanks to the three individually adjustable LED panels, the light can be directed precisely to the workplace and into the room. I've turned the panels around so my monitors are not nearly hit by the cone of light anymore, just the keyboard and the area of the desk where I work with paper. So I have achieved a very good lighting for a VDU workstation and also for the room. At the Attenzia Space, the manufacturer has perfectly taken up and implemented the subject of customizability because every user can create their own lighting scenario. A small icing on the cake would be, if you could turn the panels not only on its own axis, but also to the side, then you could control a little more precise, where the light falls.

They said that costs are an important decision factor for investors and operators or employers. What do you think about the price level of Attenzia Space?

 

The models are in the usual price segment of the market for floor lamps. An added value, however, are certainly the individual adjustment options over the three panels. Especially since a general advantage of floor lamps is added: they can be positioned flexibly, not only in the area of the desk but in the entire room. So z. B. in a new room layout and the lighting conditions are adjusted accordingly. But this possibility guarantees to a certain extent individual lighting scenarios. In a room-based lighting does not work.

What further developments or trends will you see in the area of workplace lighting?


From my point of view, the tendency has always been in the same direction for years, namely towards artificial light that is based on human needs. HCL technology is the biggest current development in this regard, and I firmly believe that it will become established and become the standard. In addition, new research results are expected. Researchers will continue working to better understand how light affects the human organism. The resulting findings will be used by manufacturers to develop appropriate technologies and products. Another novelty that will certainly occupy the industry is the OLED technology, which is today used for B. already found in televisions. Because it has many advantages of the classic LED but even less dazzled by its surface light, OLED will probably eventually replace the classic LED technology.

What can manufacturers do to prepare for these trends?


Manufacturers, in my opinion, have to work closely with, and perhaps promote, research. Because there are just a lot of unanswered questions. For example, on the subject of HCL it should be clarified how the ideal light curve looks during the course of the day, that is, which light color and intensity is best at what time. Now the curve is highly manipulative in many lights. This means that there will be a cold light peak at 9 o'clock in the morning and at 14 o'clock at noon to increase the efficiency of the employees. Daylight is characterized by another, very homogenous curve: warm white in the morning, bluish light at lunchtime, and warm white in the evening. For example, research here should find out if it actually leads to a sinking performance if one uses the natural light curve. Maybe there is not much difference, then the manipulative light would not be necessary. In my view, the ideal artificial light is simply a copy of the daylight. For example, I could imagine that there is a sensor on the outside of the roof that measures the light color, and that the lighting inside is automatically adjusted by a control.



Apart from the advantages of the right lighting: Are there disadvantages for the user due to bad or wrong lighting conditions?


In any case. In my consulting practice I have just an extreme example. One customer decided to statically illuminate his entire office with a light color of 6500 Kelvin. This is a light color that is more likely to be found at lunchtime with a high amount of blue activating light. The reason is obvious for the employer: at this midday light employees tend to perform better. However, he accepts that he messes up the biorhythm of his employees. The consequences can include sleep disorders. This is known from the smartphone: modern devices take the blue light portion of the display back at certain times, so that the user can surf in the evening and still sleep well afterwards. Even if the above example is an extreme case: In general, simply buyer and user interests should be balanced.

How can an improvement of the situation be achieved?


Basically, all wheels must mesh with each other: the research says which light scenario is ideal, the legal requirements explicitly represent the corresponding requirements and the manufacturers offer suitable solutions.

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