Light Impacts Your Productivity

25.10.2020 |

Episode #8 of the course How to set up a productive working environment by Melissa Chu


Yesterday, you learned about the impact of colors on productivity and how to implement the most effective colors in your workspace. Today, we’re going to look at how different types of light impact your mood, and therefore your working ability. From this, you’ll learn to use the right lighting to create the proper ambiance.


Light Temperatures and Their Effects

As the temperature of light changes, the light emits different colors, ranging from red to white to blue. Light temperature is measured in Kelvin or K for short.

There are three different ranges of color temperatures:

• High color temperatures are 4,600 K and more, appear bluish and are called cool colors.

• Mid-range color temperatures are 3,100 K to 4,500 K and appear white.

• Low color temperatures are 3,000 K and below, appear red, orange, or yellow, and are called warm colors.

Since light changes color according to its temperature, this impacts the way we act and feel. Here’s a breakdown of those color temperatures, their effects, and how best to use each color range:


K range 3,000 and below 3,100 to 4,500 4,600 and more
Color description Orange White Blue
Similarity in nature Sunrise, sunset Early morning light, evening light Daylight
Effect on mood Comforting and relaxing Welcoming yet vibrant Invigorating and alert
Suitability Break and leisure room Meeting room Workroom


A study was performed on how color temperature impacted employee well-being and work performance. Researchers found that when high color temperature fluorescent lighting was installed in the building, employees experienced increased work performance. They reported less fatigue, less sleepiness, greater alertness, and increased mental health.

It seems surprising that a change in color temperature can impact employees’ well-being and productivity. But when you look at the results from a biological perspective, it makes sense.

According to our circadian rhythms, our bodies undergo biological changes on a 24-hour basis in response to light and darkness. During the daytime, the increased light leads to a decrease in the hormone melatonin in your body, so you feel more awake and invigorated. During the night, the decreased light leads to an increase in melatonin, so you feel sleepier.


How to Create the Best Lighting for Work

Both natural and artificial lighting impact the way we feel, behave, and think. Higher color temperatures similar to daylight are most conducive to productivity. Using this knowledge, you can implement better light in your workspace.

Here are some ways you can create that natural daylight:

Work nearby a window. There’s nothing better than having actual daylight streaming through where you work. The added benefit is that you can periodically look outside at the scenery, which brings me to my next point…

Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Looking at a screen for too long can strain your eyes. To prevent this, use the 20-20-20 rule when working. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Try looking at a tree or building outside your window. If you’re in a windowless room, try focusing on an object on the opposite side of the room.

Opt for glass over drywall. If you’re doing interior design, it can be a good idea to use glass walls instead of drywall. This is actually something I did recently. I found that not only does glass let in natural lighting, but it also has an elegant effect and makes the workspace look bigger.

Choose light bulbs that produce the desired effect. When purchasing light bulbs, pay attention to the Kelvin (K) on the product description. Rooms meant for relaxing and entertaining should have warm lighting at around 2,500 K. Meeting rooms and rooms with mixed usage should aim for a white light around 3,000 K. Office spaces should opt for daylight bulbs at 4,000 K or higher.


Don’t Underestimate the Power of Light

Don’t underestimate the power of light on your mood. It’s in our very nature to be affected by the angle and brightness of light in our surroundings. We rise with the sun, get our work done during the day, and wind down as the sun sets.

The best part about using light to boost productivity is that it’s a passive method. You don’t need to actively create better habits or make significant changes to your day. Once you put in the right lighting, you will feel, think, and work better.

Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at another passive, yet proactive way to improve our working environment. We’ll be figuring out the role that nature plays in productivity, and how we can let more of the outdoors into our workspace for a better day.



Recommended book

The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Friedman PhD


Share with friends