Can Office Lighting Be Too Bright? (A How-to Guide)

We all know that office light that is too dim creates a low-performance environment.

The question is can office lighting be too bright? The answer to the question is yes, offices can be too bright.

The retinas of the human eye focus on objects using the variations in the intensity of light. When the light in an office space is too bright, it will strain the eyes.

This will lead to fatigue, headaches, and ultimately low productivity. Offices that are too bright are not ideal.

Today, modern offices use technological gadgets such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. If the lighting in an office space is too bright, it will reflect on the screens of these devices. The glare produced by this reflection will make the screens hard to view. Excessively bright light will reduce the quality of workers visuals.

Office Lighting

The cognitive performance of workers is affected by lighting. Using dim lights, flickering lights, or excessively bright lights impedes the productivity of workers. However, light is a necessity for all human activities. It affects the physical, social, and psychological aspects of all human life. 


According to several studies, exposure to dim lighting causes dysfunctional human behavior. When this happens during an activity or at work, the performance of the individual(s) involved will be affected negatively.

The eye is the only organ with which the body can detect color and light. This information is then sent to our brains for interpretation. It is the brain that transforms color and light signals into recognizable images.

Studies have shown that the biological rhythm of humans operates according to lighting. This is why people feel sleepy when the lighting is poor. Light stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for alertness and other physiological responses. 

This is why office space must be adequately lighted. However, if the space light is too much, it will lead to further complications.

Efficiency through lighting

Blue lighting Is the most suitable for enhancing human productivity. Advanced lighting technologies such as LEDs can also improve the productivity of workers within the office space. 

The level of brightness available in a room determines the aesthetic perception of people. Therefore, the brighter a place, the more comfortable workers will be within the space.

Although man needs light for his physical and emotional wellbeing, excessive lighting is highly detrimental. When there is a varying level of brightness in a room, the human eye’s retinas will be weakened. 

This will cause many discomforts, and the body may attempt to conserve energy by going into a resting state. It is important to note that excessive lighting is not just the result of bright light bulbs. 

The reflection of sunlight through office windows can cause excessive lighting. Companies must incorporate proper solar management into their building plan.The glare produced by lighting is an essential factor that leads to excessive lighting. 

You have to position the seats within the office space so that sunlight and office light do not bounce into the eyes of workers. This is the key to maintaining the thin line between proper lighting and excessive lighting.

The quality and intensity of your office lighting can have a significant effect on your ability to focus, concentrate, and live a healthy life. That’s why it’s so essential to work under the proper amount and intensity of lighting at all times. 

Here, we explore the various ways your office lighting affects your professional life and general well—being and how to optimize your office lighting to improve your productivity and health.

The intensity of light within an office space will affect the concentration and health of your workers. Now we are going to discuss how the productivity of your workers will be affected by excessive lighting.

Your productivity

According to CCOHS, the best office lighting systems combine natural and artificial lighting. And ideally, the intensity and position of the artificial light should be adjustable. 

That way, you can personalize your lighting, considering the time of day and your individual preference. Furthermore, if you are exposed to proper lighting in the morning, your day will be very productive.

How Bright Should Office Lighting Be?

We have discussed the ill effects of dim lighting and excessive lighting at length. Now we want to solve these problems by stating the type of office lighting that will guarantee workers’ optimum productivity.

Note that you have to consider your desk’s location within the office about lighting glare while following these suggestions.

Standards in the United States

There are specific lighting standards that apply in the United States. You can use these standards in your office space for improved performance. The standards set by the General services administration in the United States cover different kinds of working environments. 

For regular workspace stations, the standard lighting requirement is 500 lumens per square meter. The illumination standard for other areas of a company is lesser. For instance, a conference room requires 300 lumens per square meter, while elevators and entrance lobbies require 200 lumens per square meter of office space.

These standards were set to ensure that an equal amount of lighting is supplied to every square meter of office space. Lighting ought to cover all areas of office space. It is also expected to eliminate equipment shadows existing within the office environment. 

However, going beyond these standards results in over-lighting, which causes a different set of problems.

Standards in Canada

Eye discomfort within the office was once a cause for concern in Canada. As a result, specific standards were set by the Canadian Centre for occupational health and safety (CCOHS) to ensure that the lighting within the office space does not exceed the maximum required illumination levels.


Excessive lighting leads to eye discomfort, which decreases the level of staff productivity. It is essential that the lighting within an office space is neither too much nor too little. 

The office space illumination should be enough for people to view both printed and hand-written documents without being blinded by the glare. Excessive lighting will inhibit the focus of the staff. 

When the illumination within a room is too much, the retina’s will not distinguish between images. On the other hand, low lighting impedes the functions of the ocular system. Management must provide proper lighting for workers to carry out their activities.

According to the Canadian lighting standard, overhead lighting within the office space should be between 300 to 500 lumens per square meter. If you take a closer look at the Canadian average, you will see that it is merely a generalization of the American lighting standard. 

You can vary the lighting within the office space by dimming or diffusing overhead light rays using filters. The Canadian standard also considered the effect of the reflection of sunlight within the office space. 

It recommended that windows be fitted with adjustable blinds and that matte paint should be used on the building. Adherence to these standard office requirements will ensure proper lighting within the office space.

Standards in the United Kingdom

The lighting regulations of the United Kingdom are closely related to those recommended by the United States. The only difference is that they gave a range of fair values rather than providing specific illumination values. 

For example, the standard illumination requirement for the office workspace is between 200 and 500 lumens while that of the United States is simply 500 lumens.

The lighting standards of the United Kingdom prefer natural lighting as a significant source of light within office spaces. Fluorescents and overhead lightings constitute secondary sources of illumination. According to the workplace regulations act of 1992, secondary sources’ usage should be minimized to the lowest minimum.

What Type of Office Lighting Should Be Used?

Based on the standards reviewed above, it is clear that the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom all measure proper lighting within similar illumination levels. In this section, we will discuss the best ways in which adequate illumination can be achieved within the office space.

The United States made no recommendations on how 500 lumens of lighting can be achieved within the office space. However, Canada favors the use of task lamps, which will decrease the illumination required for the office space to about 300 lumens, while the United Kingdom tends the natural light sources.

Overhead Lighting

In light of these recommendations, it can be concluded that task lighting and natural lighting are the best light sources for office work. This fact does not mean overhead lighting is utterly useless within the office space. These light sources can still be used, but they should be dimmed down.

When overhead lighting is used to supply light, it causes glare, discomfort, headaches, eyestrain, and health issues. This light source is meant to serve as an alternative suitable for the late hours of the day. It is not the go-to solution to excessive lighting problems.


Excessive lighting within the office space can lead to workers’ discomfort, which ultimately affects workers’ morale and productivity.

To solve this problem, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom proffered standard illumination levels that will serve as proper lighting within the office environment.

These standards were discussed as well as suitable light sources for the implementation of these standards.