Human Centric Lighting Shows Promise for Improving Workforce Productivity

Lighting Studies Reveal Why Human Centric Lighting in the Office is so Important

How Humans Respond to Lighting


Human Centric Lighting (HCL), is based on the knowledge that we respond to light and have a basic need for light.  This need is both visual and non-visual. Without light we are unable to see – this is the visual need for light. The non-visual need however, is not as easily understood.  In the early 2000’s the discovery of Intrinsically Photosentsitive Reginal Ganglion Cells (ipRGCs) was announced.  

The ipRGC cells are in the retina in addition to the rod and cone cells, and they respond to light stimulus because of a light sensitive protein called melanopsin.  The “color” and “intensity” of the light is important. When the light has a high blue color, melatonin is suppressed and we feel more energized, think of how you feel on a bright, blue sky, sunny day.  There also needs to be an “intensity” of light so that there is enough light to reach these cells.

This lighting is still in the early adaptation stage, however early research is showing it provides the benefits of higher productivity, fewer sick days, improved sleep-wake cycles, and more satisfied employees.

Intelligent Lighting Designs

I have been using a task lamp that has an adjustable range of light color and intensity with a number of clients. The feedback has been improved visual acuity, a reduction of headaches and eye strain. A couple of workers who had medical conditions that were exasperated by the overhead lighting are happily working now with this task lamp.


We now have options for commercial ceiling fixtures, can lighting, and A19 bulbs that are tunable and suitable for an office. These can be manually adjusted or programmed to meet the needs of the workers. These fixtures, as well as the tunable task lamp, can be effective for employees who experience SAD (Seasonal affective disorder), symptoms which include fatigue, depression, hopelessness and social withdrawal. Light therapy is often the recommended treatment.

How Human Centric Lighting Impacts the Workforce

With lighting it is very important to listen to the employees to understand the workplace environment they need. This is also critical for employee retention.

A recent survey found that the #1 item that employees would like changed in their workplace environment was the lighting. In this survey 43% reported feeling gloomy because of the lack of light. (Workspaces September 03, 2018). This report also stated that some European Union countries mandate employee proximity to windows as part of their national building code. They recognize that an absence of natural light hurts overall employee experience throughout the organization.

The importance of Natural light (daylight) in the workplace is becoming more apparent. Research by Cornell University Professor Dr. Alan Hedge revealed that workers in daylight offices reported a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and a 56% reduction in drowsiness. Human centric lighting solutions can provide indoor light that matches the lighting found outside which is critical for workers who do not have access to daylight in their offices.

Modern Lighting Systems are Starting to Incorporate HCL into Commercial Lighting Product Lines

We are entering a very exciting time in the lighting world, where our biological need for light is known and understood. Now, with new LED lighting and control technology we are able to meet this need for all of us who are working inside!