Many operations managers and business owners are surprised to learn how much lighting can impact workplace productivity. A professional paper on business lighting from the American Society of Interior Designers, in partnership with 3M, Cooper Lighting, DuPont, Haworth and Masland Carpet, says that there are more than 57 million visual display terminals (VDTs) in US-based offices, and that the average worker VDT user “loses 62.5 hours of on-the-job time every year due to eye strain.” The culprit for this epidemic of eye-strained workers? Overlit office spaces. That’s right. The standard American office is too bright, and it’s bad for eyes, and for productivity. Here are some thing to consider, should you seek to make some different lighting decisions in the new year.

Think About Incorporating Natural Lighting

This isn’t always easy, depending on how your building is arranged. Windows are often the difference between a satisfied and unsatisfied worker, but not all offices are set up for everyone to be near a window. Skylights can help with this situation, but if it’s not in the budget to undergo a natural lighting renovation, you may have to consider a tip further down the list.

86 Fluorescent Lighting

A 2011 study by Drs. Helen Walls, Kelvin Walls and Geza Benke found that fluorescent lighting can cause an increase in eye disease, and that many fluorescent lights fall outside the safe range for ultraviolet radiations. That’s scary stuff, but it doesn’t mean that the fluorescent lighting in your building is dangerous to your employees. Of course, it’s a good idea to check out the levels, but it’s an even better idea to remove as much of the fluorescent lighting as possible. Even “safe” lighting like this can trigger migraine headaches, cause eye strain and even, in some cases, cause people to become nauseated. That’s not the type of environment you want to create for your employees.

Check Out Human-Focused Lighting

Lighting systems that utilize the full light spectrum are, in the long run, the far healthiest for employees and result in greater productivity. Recessed LED panels that can run through a pre-programmed light cycle that simulates the day’s light has shown to increase productivity, reduce fatigue, increase concentration, and result in overall happier and more alert employees.

Customize Lighting

Providing “SAD” lamps and other desktop lighting for your employees is one option, but retrofitting workspaces that allow employees to control the amount of light in their workspace is a much more preferable and safe option.

The cost of changing the lighting in your office building could seem too great. But, considering the amount of productivity lost, and sick time increased that artificial and fluorescent lighting cause, it is certainly worth consideration. Many companies have reported increased employee wellness and satisfaction, as well as increased revenue, after a facility upgrade to install better lighting.