PENDANT LIGHTING could solve a perennial problem in the workplace that affects productivity and wellbeing. In addition to constant jarring by emails and phone calls, knowledge workers in typical office set-ups endure a barrage of visual and aural distractions throughout the day. The total time lost as a result can amount to more than a quarter of their working day, creating a huge hidden cost to employers and causing workplace stress. Recent research, though, at a school in Denmark suggests that creating islands of light could help mitigate these effects and might enable adults to get more done. Surprisingly, this includes reducing office noise.
To be fully productive people have to experience what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called flow: ‘a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.’ But this is almost impossible to achieve in most workplaces, where, as design process expert William Belk put it ‘everyone is distracted by everything.’
Belk conducted an anonymous survey of 700 self-styled 'high-performance employees’ in jobs such as architecture and financial services and found that nearly 60 percent regarded their workplace as distracting.