Personalised lighting for working

Henrika Pihlajaniemi, post-doctoral researcher, Oulu School of Architecture, University of Oulu

A cloudy Saturday in mid-January Oulu, daylight is still scarce and the daylit period of a day lasts only 4 hours and 51 minutes. A suitable day for shooting a video in the second pilot office of InnoStaVa project to be presented in Stockholm Light and Furniture Fair, and a great opportunity to test the office and the personally controllable work-station lighting.

The research group arrived at work in the early morning before the dawn and spent the day with typical activities associated with knowledge work in different parts of the pilot office. My program consisted of writing an article by a working desk, a design meeting in “Pavilion” about the fair department lighting with a colleague, and another meeting with the whole group in “Café” (names refer to the specific areas of the office space with different character). In addition, working day was supplemented with a couple of coffee breaks and a lunch together. During the day, each researcher adjusted the lighting every now and then to support one’s own working and the lighting of Pavilion and Café were also altered to suit the use and the time of day. A photographer spent the day with us, controlling three time-lapse cameras directed towards different areas of the office space.

It was valuable to test in a real working situation the intelligent lighting solutions designed for the pilot and to gain personal experience and support for further applications of theoretical knowledge of the effects of lighting. In earlier studies, it has been indicated that tunable white lighting with controllable intensity and colour temperature can have various effects on alertness and well-being in, for example, working environments. In tests, cool and bright lighting has been detected to improve concentration and performance, whereas warmer and milder lighting increases social behaviour and decreases hyperactivity. The possibility to control lighting individually has increased workers’ satisfaction in studies. In the pilots of InnoStaVa project, it has been possible to study both personal lighting control and the effects of lighting that imitates circadian rhythm of daylight, as a part of holistically designed real knowledge-work environment. The general target has been to increase with lighting, among other environmental factors, workers’ well-being and support individual and group work – to increase creativity and innovativeness in start-up companies.

Understanding of the experiences of the real workers of the pilot office with personal lighting control will demand further analyses of the valuable feedback gained with qualitative research methods – those results will be reported in future articles. My subjective experience of the day in pilot office was only positive. Lighting control with a smart phone was convenient and a suitable lighting for each situation was found easily. I could sense the influence of light in a tangible way. For example, adjusting lighting temporarily to bright and cool setting after the sushi lunch removed my fatigue and made concentrating to writing more easy – I could even sense my posture getting better. On the other hand, when it was getting dark outside, it felt good to level down the lighting from neutral standard office lighting setting to a milder and warmer tone of light, anticipating the evening atmosphere.

On Monday, back again by my own work desk under and old luminaire with fluorescent tubes, I noticed soon that I missed the personal control for lighting. •