Office lighting: rules, regulations and recommendations

By: Secom
10 de March, 2021
Reading time: 12 min

Many people wonder why they feel so tired when they get home after a day at the office. The answer is simple: office lighting affects people’s mood and, consequently, their productivity.

So, what should office lighting be like? Lighting levels must be uniform and appropriate for the work in hand. The light shouldn’t be too bright, and there should be no glare. It is important to avoid flickering, so you want to use quality electronic components in your light fixtures. While these are the top priorities, you also want to ensure the room still looks nice. By taking both aspects into account, you will ensure a balance between a good image and the well-being of your employees.

This article addresses...


Regulatory requirements for lighting

The regulations on office lighting are contained in Royal Decree 486/1997, of 14 April, which establishes the minimum health and safety provisions for workplaces. Specific requirements for lighting levels for each room are found in standard UNE-EN-12464-1 of the Spanish Association of Standardisation and Certification (AENOR, for the Spanish acronym).

The main guidelines for the correct lighting of offices are:

  • Make as much use of natural light sources as possible. Use natural light from windows and skylights whenever possible.
  • Workspaces should preferably be lit with general, common or shared lighting. Exceptions include areas for tasks that are more demanding on the eyes.
  • Lighting systems should be properly checked and maintenance carried out on a regular basis. This includes checking equipment and fixtures, and replacing or cleaning them.
  • The minimum values of light uniformity must be complied with. This can be achieved with lights that have a broader beam, or by adding new light fixtures between existing ones.
  • Glare and reflection must be avoided. We use LEDs integrated into the fixture itself, and a polycarbonate diffuser to prevent glare. Recommendations also suggest using light colours on walls and ceilings, turning workstations round to ensure workers are not facing the windows, and using curtains to regulate natural light.
  • Avoid areas of shadow and flickering lights.




It is also important to take into account the time of day the space is being used for work. Apart from allowing us to see, light affects our well-being and capacity for work. Today we are lucky to have technology that can adapt light according to the time of day and work environment, such as our special luminaires that maintain the Circadian rhythm. In short, lighting has to be designed with people’s health in mind, ensuring it does not interfere with their biological rhythms.

Another important aspect to consider is the colour balance of light. This will depend on what the light is needed for. Extremely warm or cold light is not recommended for office work. A temperature of 4,000K is generally easiest on the eye.



Different lighting for different rooms

The regulations above establish the minimum levels required for offices. The specific recommendations by areas and use are:

  • Reading, writing and data handling: 500 lux.
  • Technical drawing: 750 lux.
  • CAD workspaces: 500 lux.
  • Conference and meeting rooms: 500 lux, with dimmer switches.
  • Reception areas: 300 lux.
  • Archives: 200 lux.
  • Toilets, halls and changing rooms: 200 lux.
  • Corridors: 100 lux.




Lighting uniformity is also very important here. While a minimum of 0.4 is the general requirement, this value is 0.6 in offices.

Innovation in office lighting

Thanks to modern technology, office lighting can now be a smart system that includes the system itself, the switches and the light fixtures. Lighting control can now be synchronised with the help of smart assistants, such as Alexa and Google Home. You can use voice control to turn the system on and off, dim the lights, adapt the intensity of outside lighting, and much more.

Drivers and power sources play a fundamental role in smart lighting systems. These devices adapt the electric current to the specific needs of each LED light.




This means lighting control systems have to be connected to a driver. The most comprehensive of these is DALI (the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface), as it provides individual digital control of luminous flux using a bidirectional communication protocol that sends and receives messages from each of the devices in use. It can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet (Apple or Android), online, or via Bluetooth.

SECOM boasts all this technology and we manufacture custom light fixtures for each client. Basically, we focus on two key areas.

  1. Complying with building regulations: we perform an initial study that tells us the lighting levels in the workspace and the glare values (UGR), as well as the energy efficiency of the system.
  2. Optimising consumption: reducing the amount of energy the system needs. We have several specific products for this purpose.

Our lighting systems are designed to avoid any negative impact on users. They also guarantee a 70 % reduction in energy consumption.

Energy efficiency criteria and system management

Energy efficiency in lighting can mean major savings for companies. The top five ways to achieve this are:

  1. Installing more energy-efficient elements, such as LED lights.
  2. Using natural light as much as possible.
  3. Introducing dimmers and lighting control systems.
  4. Performing proper maintenance on the system.
  5. Raising awareness among employees.




It is important to remember that the greater efficiency of LEDs means they have a longer life. They last up to 10 times longer than traditional fluorescent systems.

LEDs give a brighter, crisper light. They light up immediately, without blinking, and are very easy to install. Another major advantage is the option of controlling light intensity remotely. They also have no filament, which makes them more resilient, and they do not contain mercury, so they are much more environmentally friendly.

SECOM has worked on many national and international lighting projects, following the parameters, regulations and recommendations discussed above. These projects include Gade law firm (Murcia), Tencer offices (Castellón), Cajamar head office (Almería), Huelva Town Hall, and an office building in Neuilly-sur-Seine (France).

These are the basic guidelines to follow when installing a modern office lighting system, which will undoubtedly be more sustainable, safer and more environmentally friendly.


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