task lighting

The benefits of ergonomic LED task lighting

Recent research shows that incorporating positionable light sources in individual workspaces provides valuable benefits
Thursday, October 31, 2019
By Sergio Silva

As the workplace continues to evolve, employers are placing an increased focus on employee health and well-being. They are looking for ways to make their teams feel good and to create the most optimal work environment so that employees can put in their best performance.

Task lighting offers a simple and cost-effective solution.

Today’s workplace also calls for flexible lighting systems that can support the fluid nature of the modern office. Lighting design continues to move toward greater energy efficiency, while providing workers the freedom to position their light sources most comfortably. Recent research into the use of task lighting has provided evidence that incorporating positionable light sources in individual workspaces provides valuable benefits.


Lighting needs during the workday can vary by task. Many people find that backlit screens, such as cell phones, computer monitors, laptops and tablets, are in constant demand of their visual attention. Yet, there is still the requirement to read documents or printed materials. These two tasks require significantly different levels of light.

Task lights, when used as a supplement to natural or overhead lighting, enables people to customize light at their workstations to best meet their individual needs. It allows them to add quality light into daily life, which, in turn, helps to improve vision and comfort at work. Task lighting also helps to reduce workplace fatigue.

With individual lighting needs also varying based on age – most people in their 60s require 250 per cent more contrast to view the same documents than those in their 20s – task lighting allows for the adjustment of light to meet maturity levels, too.


With improved health and comfort comes increased productivity. Two of the most frequent complaints from desk-based workers are eye strain and poor lighting. With task lighting, these complaints can be reduced and at times even nullified. Task lights allow for employees to customize their individual workstation with the right quality light for each task performed.


Not all task lights are created equal. When choosing an energy-efficient task light, there are a few key features that require priority attention: light quality, light footprint and adjustability.

Look for a LED task light with a colour rendering index (CRI) of 90 or more. This will help render objects in their true colours.

If designed correctly, an LED light will minimize glare, create a uniform footprint of light and cast a single shadow. Many task lights create multiple shadows on the work surface, adding visual complexities that can lead to ocular fatigue. A task light that casts only a single shadow will significantly enhance eye comfort.

A premium LED task light will also include optical films that control how light is dispersed and help increase the throw of light over the work surface, significantly improving the user experience.

Adjustability of the light’s reach is crucial, too, as it allows the user to position the light where it is needed most. Task lights that offer a wide range of light output also enable employees to select the best brightness level for their task and then adjust as work requirements change.


Task lights not only help to boost employee comfort and productivity but they also promote energy and cost savings.

Because they are closer to the work surface, task lights are a considerably more effective means of lighting a desktop than overhead fixtures. A work environment can maintain lower levels of overhead lighting by illuminating desktops with energy-efficient task lights.

Task lights equipped with sensors that automatically shut-off when employees leave their desk also help to improve energy savings.

High quality LED task lights have a lifespan of 50,000 hours, which translates into a significant cost savings for the employer. In addition, maintenance and bulb replacement costs are less frequent. Research suggests that energy-efficient lighting technologies can reduce overall electrical use (for lighting) by half, a move that would significantly lower the amount spent on lighting by more than $20 billion annually and decrease power plant emissions by millions of tonnes.


Sergio Silva is a senior product designer at Humanscale, a leader in ergonomic tools for the workforce. 


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