BGES explains: How lighting can boost employee wellbeing

BGES explains: why we should learn from New Zealand about workplace health

There is now compelling evidence that effectively controlled and consistent lighting systems can contribute significantly to employee wellbeing – and therefore to increased productivity. Our managing director, Gareth Barber, explains.

Lighting can boost employee wellbeing. One of the most positive trends of the past few years has been an increased awareness of the ways in which our working environments impact upon our physical and mental health. For more progressively-inclined businesses this has translated to a review of building systems with regard to such critical parameters as air quality, thermal comfort and environmental noise.

To which list we should also add lighting given that the weight of study about its impact on wellbeing and productivity is now substantial. Poor lighting has many potential symptoms and effects, including inadequate lighting levels, poorly distributed light and flickering light. Flicker can be particularly troubling as it can trigger ailments including headaches and visual impairment.

Lighting for health

Produced by UKGBC and issued by the WGBC in 2017, the landmark ‘Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The next chapter for green building’ report pointed to lighting conditions as being one of the most important elements in delivering working environments that are conducive to good health. Along with the huge potential for energy savings, it is for this reason that so many companies have moved across to LED lighting, which makes it much easier to achieve consistent and high quality output. In addition, the last few years have seen a notable increase in the number of tunable LED systems that can be adjusted to match circadian rhythms – in other words, the 24-hour cycle that synchronises bodily functions in humans and animals.

In conjunction with sensors and sophisticated control systems, it is not difficult for the latest generation of lighting solutions to be optimised to suit day-to-day working patterns and the requirements of specific activities. By taking this sort of pragmatic and methodical approach to lighting, companies put themselves in a stronger position from which they can look to reduce days lost to illness and, therefore, minimise any dips in productivity.

The right amount of light when and where required

Here at BGES we have long been aware of the value of effective lighting. Our in-house lighting division can offer new or retrofit installations of LED and emergency lighting. Based around a non-proprietary and scalable design concept, our lighting control system has been shown to deliver a consistently comfortable quality of illumination, as well as lower CO2 emissions and reductions in electricity bills of as much as 75%.

Looking ahead to ‘forthcoming attractions’, we are also in the final stages of work on V2.0 of our popular real-time energy optimisation solution. Due for a formal launch later in 2019, the new version of VISTA will deliver significant new features that allow existing building management systems to be further optimised in a way that enhances their efficiency and improves conditions for employees. Widely praised for its user-friendly front-end and access to real-time information – meaning that potential problems can be identified and addressed quickly and easily – VISTA can often be implemented with an RoI of less than two years.

With developments such as Brexit placing a renewed emphasis on output, and British businesses losing a troubling £4bn more as a result of health-related absence in 2018 than in the previous year (source: Vitality’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study), wellbeing is certain to become an increasingly charged battleground over the next few years. But along with air quality and noise control, lighting is one of the areas that can be addressed most effectively – and with some of the most enduringly positive results.

More than ever, the lighting solutions that make this possible are within the reach of most companies, whether they be primarily office-based or involve manufacturing or product assembly. In every sense, taking better control of lighting is the very definition of what might be termed a ‘no-brainer’.