The clocks went forward last weekend, which means it's now lighter earlier as our alarms go off, but we have lost an hour in bed. We've probably all read lots about adjusting to this from a sleep perspective and how an awful lot of people suffer from seasonal depression, but how important is light to our workplaces and the people who use them and how can we make sure we get it right?

Research shows that light has a profound impact on people. Our physical, physiological, and psychological health, and on our overall performance - particularly at work. Despite the fact this is proven, often it isn't considered adequately when planning and designing new workspaces.

Like many other factors of the workplace we tend to take light for granted.A little like air quality...

There aren't a lot of jobs that don't involve a computer in some way or another nowadays. While they bring an ease and speed to work, they also can create some physical challenges, particularly because a lot of traditional offices support lighting for paper-based work…Remember florescent lights? Because of this, we struggle with adjusting our eyes as we move from computer screen to white paper to glossy magazines or reports.And let's be honest, we all flick between tasks pretty much all day long. This leads to headaches, physical stress, and in a nutshell - lost productivity.

designing new workspaces

It's become common place to invest in great architecture, design, furnishings, furniture and even state of the art tech,but without good quality lighting you may not realise the full value of your workplace investment.

When asked to think about lighting in the workplace we default to the obvious physical effect it has. Eyestrain, for starters. While the physical impact of lighting is obvious, its physiological and psychological impact can be just as strong. Light sends a message to our brains that can affect mood and motivation levels. Light also affects our circadian rhythms, such as sleep cycles. Understanding the importance of light quality is one thing but achieving it in your work environment is something else. To get there, you need to understand what it means to have quality lighting, and how to plan for it.

Too often, lighting is treated as an after thought in FM and workplace design. Early design decisions such as ceiling height and window size in new builds are all critical to the effect lighting will have on that space, so it really needs to be considered as early as possible. The finish your surfaces have also has a significant impact on lighting design.

Any good designer should know this, but it's good to keep in mind that light can stimulate our brains and awaken our creativity. At the very least you should allow for natural light in your office space as frequently as you can and also encourage your employees to get up and take breaks, outside if possible, so that they can reap the rewards of not only movement, but also natural light. It's spring now after all – there should be plenty of it!