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A Bright Idea: Light Therapy in the Office

Are you familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Living in Melbourne, it can be a somewhat common experience. SAD is a type of depression that usually affects people during the autumn and winter months when there's less natural daylight - particularly in southern regions.

As many of us spend most of our day indoors - especially due to the pandemic and hybrid working - the lack of exposure to natural light can further exacerbate the effects of SAD.

However, there's a solution, Light therapy can help improve mood, reduce fatigue, and even treat the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by exposing your eyes to a specific type of light.

Colour theory suggests that different hues can evoke different psychological reactions in people. Cool colours such as blue and green tend to be calming and create feelings of tranquillity, while warm colours like yellow and red can create feelings of energy and enthusiasm. Colours like orange and purple can be used to create a balance between the two, as they contain elements of both warm and cool colours.

Typically it’s up to the employee to invest the time and resources to undergo light therapy, though since hybrid working has seen our work infiltrate our personal lives, you could argue that it’s time for the workplace to improve parts of our personal life and wellbeing.

Whilst I’ve seen some premium workplaces invest in circadian lighting schemes, I’m yet to see a ‘Hue Room’ within a workplace.

It is a room equipped with coloured lights that promote relaxation, energy, and mood improvement, often used in light therapy. It could be a game-changer for employees who struggle with SAD or other mood disorders. By providing a space for light therapy, employers can help improve employees' mental health and well-being, leading to better productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction.

Moreover, with increasing commercial office and retail vacancy rates across large cities due to hybrid working, maybe it’s also the responsibility of landlords to activate their surplus and vacant spaces during winter months as pop-up light therapy spaces to improve foot traffic and well-being.

For example, Harbourside Campus in New Jersey underwent a $100 million transformation to improve the quality and public amenities of its design to improve the well-being of occupants and visitors.

The attached images are concepts I created using Midjourney about how a Hue Room looks and feels.

As we approach the end of daylight savings in Australia with dark and cold weather around the corner, I secretly hope that one-day workplaces will pay extra attention to lighting and its effect on employees, productivity and well-being.

Have you experimented with light therapy? Would these concept spaces entice you?


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