Lighting Your Productive Workspace

Posted on 28 September 2015

When I was a university undergrad I spent a couple of years living on campus. It had its conveniences – prepared meals and nearby classes – but it never felt like home. For that matter it never felt like work either. Why is that?

A bit of culinary snobbery notwithstanding, my mind serves up an image of my room: a stuffy, cramped space awash with the uncomfortable green-tinged glow of fluorescent lighting.

In hindsight I wish I had paid more attention to crafting a space that felt good to be in. Being focused on academics, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to do so. I could have avoided many headaches, low energy, and (at least some) moodiness. I could have had nicer makeup, too.

{ for a comprehensive review on the many effects of different types of lighting look at http://education.olemiss.edu/download/Philips-Research.pdf }

In a space like this sleep might be the only real possibility.

Yet many of us face these challenges as we try to carve out workspaces in small spare rooms, basements, and bedrooms whether for work or hobby.

So what would I do differently?

#1
Upgrade the main lighting to something with a more pleasing colour temperature. You need to feel good in this space to be productive. Ditto if the light level and/or placement is an issue. Ensure the entire space can be well-lit to eliminate shadows; typically a ceiling mount or floor lamp with uplighting will do the job.

Luckily we no longer have to trade quality of light for energy-consciousness. Try the Plumen for a pleasing warm white.

bonus: this bulb gets you instant style cred

#2
This one I learned from my future partner: task lighting makes the difference. Your immediate work area might have some shadows resulting from your main overhead lighting. Task lighting fixes this. Use it to help focus your attention on the work at hand.

I did have a desk lamp in my campus cube, but once again I gave no thought to whether it could be doing a better job. It was kind of bulky, had limited adjustability, and it got really hot long before I was done studying.

To really set myself up for success I’d ask the following of my future candidates:

  • Be flexible – a multi-arm design that can expand and contract to place the light exactly where I need it. If I can rotate the head as well that’s even better.
  • Be respectful – desk real-estate is at a premium. Keep yourself quietly in the background and out of my way. A small base will help a lot, but it should be heavy enough for stability.
  • Be green – no excuse these days! You should be using low-energy bulbs like LEDs, low-voltage halogens, or fluorescents. No standard incandescents. This will also solve the overheating problem.
  • Be stylish – let’s face it, you’re going to be judged somewhat on how you look. If I’m putting effort into the rest of my décor I don’t want you standing out like a sore thumb. A great finish will get you a second interview.
  • Be smart – the ideal candidate can multitask. I want easy on/off (no more fumbling around for that switch on the cord). I want to be able to adjust the light level. Can you give me warm or cool light depending on my mood? Can you sense when I enter the room and turn yourself on? You’re hired!

too good to be true? Koncept may have read my mind:

#3
Personalize the space. A dorm room is particularly challenging because it has to be both home and workplace at the same time. However all workspaces benefit from a creative touch that gets you in that groove that lets the genius come out.

Like a good piece of music, mood lighting can really kick things up a notch:

Had I taken care of these things as a university student would I have had more productive study hours? I think so. Would I have suffered fewer headaches? Undoubtedly. Would I have taken fewer naps? Hmmm…

{ for great tips on turning a dorm room into a home-away-from-home check out www.designsponge.com/2012/10/dorm-living-the-essentials.html }

What do you like best about your workspace?

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