Efficient lighting can positively impact working effectiveness, efficiency and ergonomic well-being

Task lighting provides added efficiency. These individual lamps offer high level lighting focused on specific areas for reading materials or items that are difficult to see for some reason. They are placed near or above that work area needing illumination without casting glare and minimizing shadows. Typically, these lamps allow adjustment in the direction and level of the light itself. They're useful in business offices, home offices, and also for various other specific tasks. The lamps can utilize any one of a variety of bulb types, such as incandescent, compact fluorescent, halogen, LED, full spectrum, or other specialized types.

When used as lighting for office these lamps are typically either a complete base mount that is placed on the desk surface, or grommet or c-clamp mounted directly to the work surface. These individual lamps are not meant to replace ambient lighting sources, however. They are supplemental lighting for office work and meant to focus on specific tasks and provide increased user comfort and efficiency.  A study performed by Cornell University in the late 1990s found eyestrain to be the number one office complaint in the study groups. The workers stated a desire for more control over the lighting for office work. Just as it is possible to have too much light in an office, it is also possible to not have sufficient lighting. Using an individual, adjustable placement lamp provides an answer.

Ideally the changes between task luminance and illumination of immediate surroundings should be gradual thereby avoiding harsh contrasts

Ideally the changes between task luminance and illumination of immediate surroundings should be gradual thereby avoiding harsh contrasts.
Different work projects require different illumination. 

Most offices are dependent on ambient lighting streaming down from a single ceiling light source. Whether incandescent bulb, banks of fluorescent tubes, recessed down lights, or natural light from windows, ambient light may be explained as being the general lighting of an area that softens contrasts between different areas in a room. Typically, this office lighting design is inefficient as the bulbs produce too much light and glare for many of the tasks being performed, while some areas of the desk are not receiving a sufficient amount. According to a study by the IES (Illuminating Engineers Society of North America), the lighting levels required for certain desktop tasks required 20% to 25% higher lighting than other office space. For example, reading the screen of a computer monitor requires 5 times less light than reading a paper document. For computer-based office workers, the single source ambient office light typically "over lights" computer work areas while their paper work may be clear and comfortable to read. This situation can produce physical discomfort for the worker as well as waste electricity while increasing a company's energy costs. Energy waste includes the production of environmental impacts due to excessive waste products being released by power plants.

How task lighting provides solutions. By simply lowering the ambient light in the office and placing adjustable position task lights in critical areas, employees can focus lighting when and where it is most needed -- on paper documents to which they must refer or type from. However, this does not mean that the office's ambient lighting should be turned off and replaced by task illumination so that the overall environment is dark. This creates too significant of a contrast, and working for long periods in darkened lighting conditions can lead to the development of eyestrain and employee fatigue.

Combining the use of a task lighting fixture while lowering other room lighting (either through dimmers, additional on-off control, or simply removing some bulbs) can also reduce the electrical costs. This energy saving can be increased dramatically by utilizing energy saving bulbs in all lighting fixtures, such as those that have earned the ENERGY STAR qualification.

These methods also answer the desire of workers to be more in control of their office lighting. Task units enables compensation for vision differences between different people or fluctuations with a person's own visual clarity on different occasions; there's also variations caused by light entering through windows (Blinds will allow workers to control light in the room or glare on their screen caused by window light).

Task fixture lighting for offices tips::

  • The highest level of lighting is created by placing these adjustable lamps as close to the job area as possible.
  • Reduce the potential of shadow with your writing hand. If you're right handed, place the task lighting lamp on the left side. If you're left-handed, place the lamp on the right side.
  • The lamp belongs on the side of the task. Don't place the lamp in front of the task being worked on as this may create a glare that can be reflected from surfaces such as the polished wood desk, shiny magazine covers, or other desk accessories. 
  • Use task lamps with some amount of ambient room lighting, never in a darkened room.
  • A recommendation for writing and reading illumination is usually 50 to 100 FC. Computer work only requires about 25 FC (FC stands for "Foot Candle," the standard of light based on the measurement of light emanating from a candle/candles on an object one foot away)
  • Focus the lamp downward onto the particular object being used, such as a report you are reading.
  • Do not point the lamp at or have it reflecting off your computer screen.
  • The lit bulb should not be visible to the eye of any person in the room; a complete hood and proper positioning downward onto the task surface are important.