Not only does glare cause discomfort for employees, reducing the overall productivity of the office, the government actually specifically mentions glare within their health and safety executive relating to lighting at work, stating:
‘Glare occurs when one part of the visual field is much brighter than the average brightness to which the visual system is adapted. When there is direct interference with vision the condition is known as disability glare. Where vision is not directly impaired but there is discomfort, annoyance, irritability or distraction the condition is called discomfort glare. The latter is related to symptoms of visual fatigue. Both types of glare can arise from the same source.’
There are a number of ways to reduce office employees’ exposure to glare:
Anti-glare coating on screens & glasses
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 stipulate that employees using Display Screen Equipment (DSE) daily, for an hour or more at a time, should be provided with an eye examination, funded by their employer, when requested. Providing those employees who wear glasses with anti-glare coating on their lens can reduce the effect of glare. Similarly, all employees could benefit from an anti-glare screen attached to their monitors.
Reducing time spent on screens
If possible, reducing the amount of time that employees spend on screens will reduce their exposure to glare. Obviously, in office roles that require full-time work on screens this isn’t a particularly viable solution. However, a compromise would be allowing regular breaks away from computer screens.
Rearranging the office layout
By analysing your office layout you can identify sources of glare and position your staff around them to reduce the effect. For example, ensuring computer screens are not facing direct sources of sunlight such as windows. The positioning of artificial light sources should also be carefully considered to reduce the chance of glare. Flexible office design, such as hot desking or agile working, allows employees to move around the office, sitting wherever they want to allow them to work in the most comfortable way. And special consideration should be taken when choosing the colours and types of paint and wallpaper used to decorate, as high reflectance values from the walls can cause glare.
Installation of window film & blinds
An incredibly simple and cost effective way to reduce glare is by installing glare reduction window film on the windows to improve visibility and comfort. Different types of films have varying tints which provide varying levels of glare reduction. With window films, no matter how bright or hot the sun shines, the windows can remain unobscured to let in natural light all day long if desired. Alternatively, if obscuring the window isn’t a problem, installing commercial solar blinds is another simple and cost effective solution. Sturdy, low maintenance and made from energy efficient materials and available in complete blackout, commercial blinds are a straightforward option.
If needed, both blinds and film can be used on the same window as they are complementary products. This solution works particularly well on split windows where it is possible to use blinds on the top half of the window and film on the bottom.