Tunable Lighting Improves Performance and Morale in Workplace

Published May 2020 by Madison Anonick

 

When your priorities are employee health, happiness and productivity, tunable lighting may be your secret to success.

 

 

Tunable Lighting – Getting Personal

Lighting has a profound effect on the human body. It regulates our biological clocks, effecting our physical and emotional well being. Tunable light mimics natural light indoors. A combination of light quality, color and intensity helps regulate melatonin and cortisol levels in the human body.

Advanced Masonry Restoration (AMR), of St. Paul, Minnesota, unlocked the potential of personalized lighting by upgrading their office to the latest LED Tunable Lighting, fully equipped with customized controls in every room. Tunable LED lighting is the new standard in businesses, proving to be versatile, long-lasting and highly efficient.

Tim Miller, President of Advanced Masonry Restoration, recognized that their LED upgrade a few years ago throughout their office space provided sufficient energy savings, but wondered if there were even more features that could improve his workplace. Can we achieve increased employee engagement through lighting? Will we see a few more smiles around the office? What else can I do for my employees?

 

Warm to Cool Tunable Lighting in Office
2700K to 6500K (warmer to cooler) is displayed in a conference room. A full spectrum lighting installation controlled on the wall or on a mobile device.

 

 

In December of 2019 we decided to upgrade our lighting; the newer technology enables everybody in the office to fine tune the light to their own preference.”

– Tim Miller, President of Advanced Masonry Restoration

 

 

 

The Experience

The goal of this lighting upgrade was identified as not only an energy efficiency project, but even more-so allowing employees to have some control over their environment and overall improving employee morale. Tunable lighting options are available for a variety of needs and spaces. For example, some rooms, based on type of usage etc., may be better suited for tunable white, and some rooms may be better suited for full-spectrum tunable options. AMR quickly identified that they wanted a fully customized environment in every room, making the full-spectrum lighting a perfect solution.

 

Tunable Controls

 

Individuals are at their best when they can control their surroundings, including the color, quality and intensity of light to suit the types of tasks they are performing.

 

Tunable lighting controlled on mobile device
Tunable lighting can be controlled via mobile device.

 

AMR worked with The Retrofit Companies, Inc., a custom lighting and design company in Minnesota, to implement the latest tunable LED technology throughout their offices, fully integrated with controls in every room.

 

Employees can change the LED color temperature from 6500K (coolest) down to 2700K (warmest), and everything in between, while also adjusting the brightness or intensity from 1-100%.

 

 

 

Light levels and color temperature can be adjusted on-demand through controls on the wall, or remotely by using a mobile app. Is the focus of your meeting shifting gears to a video presentation and you need to adjust the lights? Simply open the mobile app and adjust from your seat.

 

It’s important because in this day and age, for productivity, the old fluorescent lights and the old single-source light created issues for some of the employees; they couldn’t see as well. When you get older you need different lighting, when you are younger you might have a different lighting need, and depending on what you are doing, if you are working with your computer or screens the lighting has to change, particularly in the accounting functions. They might go with a milder light because they don’t want all that glare” says Miller.

 

 

Tunable lighting controls in an office
An office in AMR’s St. Paul, MN location showcases the full color spectrum available to every employee.

 

Project Details

  • Tunable controls were installed in a total of 10 separate rooms, each with a 6-button wall switch with ON/OFF function as well as individual control of light level and color temperature.
  • Each office varied in size between 8’x10′ to 12’x13′.
  • Occupancy sensors added to every room to ensure proper usage. This helps keep energy bills down.
  • All fixtures are LED and high efficiency

 

Sample Schedule

Below is a sample schedule of what an employee may choose for their lighting throughout the day. Controls in every room were installed allowing for simple ON/OFF, light dimming and color temperature tuning. The changing daily needs of life in an office or meeting space are met with easy to change functionality.

 

7:00-8:00 AM | Relaxed

2700K: A calm, comforting, warm light gently welcomes employees into the office allowing for a smooth mental transition into the work day.

10:30 – 11:30 AM | Presentation

5000K: An even more crisp and blue light shifts to peak alertness, maintaining employee engagement.

12:30-4:30 PM | Focus

4000K: Cool, white light focuses the mind to power through afternoon tasks

8:00-10:30 AM | Focus

4000K: An energizing, cool white light to engage mental alertness.

11:30-12:30 PM | Relaxed

2700K: A warm, amber tone returns to relax employees during lunch time.

4:30-5:00 PM | Wind Down

3000K: Mimicking late afternoon sunlight, a wind down setting helps to mentally wrap up your tasks and reduce cortisol levels.

 

“In my particular case I need a little bit more light to see better because as you age your eyes get a little worse. This technology allows me to set my office to what I need,” shares Miller.

 

Employee Response

Miller has reported increased employee engagement, fewer complaints of headaches from employees and even a few more smiles around the office. With family member employees at AMR, Miller receives unfiltered feedback and has shared that multiple staff members provided positive feedback on having the ability to adjust their lighting exactly how they like it.

When TRC visited AMR after the lighting installation had been installed and in use for a few weeks, we heard feedback from an employee (who has asked to remain anonymous) sharing that they enjoy asking around the office to see what other people are setting their lights at throughout the day. Different job functions try different light levels and colors, allowing everyone to find the settings that work just right for them.

 

The Science

Color Temperature

Color temperature, an important part of visible light, is measured in Kelvin and helps describe how warm (red/amber) or cool (blue/white) a light source is. The lower the color temperature, the warmer the tone. The higher the color temperature, the cooler the tone. Full-spectrum lighting controls were installed at Advanced Masonry Restoration, however some settings are better suited for tunable white light.

Tunable white options are more cost effective, typically only display 3,000K – 5,000K, and are appropriate for more commercial settings such as manufacturing or plant floor spaces, warehouses, storage facilities and other similar settings.

Kelvin Color Temperature Scale 2700-6500

Everyone has a preference for their desired color temperature. This is a primary feature that interested AMR in this technology. Allowing employees the ability to customize not only the brightness (lumens) of their work space, but the ability to adjust the color temperature according to their personal preferences, has proven to boost morale and has produced extensive positive feedback from staff members. Employees have the ability to adjust their settings according to what type of task they are working on, the time of day, or simply to experiment and discover what works best for them.

 

Lumens

Perceived as brightness, lumens measure the total amount of visible light from any given source. The higher the lumen output, the brighter the light, and the lower the lumen output the dimmer the light. Science shows us that lumens and color temperature may even be harmful to our health, if exposed during the wrong hours of the day. A fully customized lighting layout throughout the offices at AMR allows for peak performance, mental alertness, and overall health and wellbeing of the staff.

 

Lumen Chart

 

Non-Utility Benefits

A 1% increase in office productivity can offset your entire project investment and your annual lighting costs. Below are examples of tunable lighting that improved the quality of workspaces.

 

Improved Workplace Productivity Through Improved Lighting Design

  • Providing workers in an insurance office with individual lighting controls of their lighting and thermal comfort resulted in a 2.8% increase in the number of claims processed, equating to $364,000.00 in avoided payroll costs.
  • Multiple case studies point to a median improvement of 3.2% increased productivity.
  • Across these studies, productivity is measured by improved working speed, reduced error rate, improved reading comprehension, improved short-term memory and local reasoning, and by self-reported productivity.

 

Improved LED Lighting Can Reduce Headaches

  • A recent study found a 27% reduction in the number of headaches allowing for more productivity, reducing the amount of sick leave taken and boosting morale by making employees more comfortable in their workspace

 

Tunable LED Lighting Can Counteract Negative Moods

  • Senior care facility – Tunable lighting provided the ability to simulate light colors with circadian rhythm, and, decreased yelling, agitation, and crying by an average of 41%.

 

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