Working from home has become something of a new normal for many professional Americans – and is very much here to stay as a result. Despite some high-profile misgivings proffered by major business leaders in the US, around a quarter of all jobs are now remote in nature, a number destined to increase. Naturally, though, this means that US citizens will be reckoning with another kind of new normal: the integration of a working space at home.
Having a spare room or space in which to work is all well and good, but lighting it well is also key for a professional environment. No one likes working in the dark, and no one likes Zooming with a shadow. So how should you light your home office?
No matter how many light sources you add to your space, or how many lamps you direct at your desk, the single most important kind of light you can introduce to any working environment is natural light. Natural sunlight confers a significant number of benefits to you, relating to energy levels, motivation, productivity and even your mood. Not only is it an important source of Vitamin D, but it can also keep your circadian rhythm well-regulated and keep you wakeful when you need it most.
As such, any office renovation decisions you make should put daylight front and center. Consider placing your desk right next to a window, or under a skylight if the room you’re using has one. Mirrors are a great way to redirect sunlight into your office from elsewhere in your home.
Of course, sunlight doesn’t answer your specific professional needs, and you will often find sunlit rooms too dark to focus in. With this in mind, you’ll want to introduce several different artificial light sources to help you illuminate your workspace and enable you to see what you’re doing. Lamps are a great way to do this, being smaller, more direct and easier to move around.
Angle-poise lamps are a strong choice, especially for artists or technical workers using paper and blueprints. For a more DIY approach, you could install a lamp socket directly onto your desk and create a quick desk lamp – which could also double as a lightbox if you place white Perspex over the top. Bigger floor-standing lamps can give your room a bit more depth, and also help wash your desk with light without straining your eyes too much.
This brings us neatly to the concept of ambient light. As important as it is to focus on your work, your overall office environment needs to be comfortable for you to work in. Ambient light ensures everything in your room is relatively well-lit, limiting the possibility of light contrast causing eye strain throughout the day. Ambient light is the most common form of room lighting, being the function of fluorescent bulbs in conventional offices and the point of overhead lighting at home.