How connected lighting can make your ears more comfortable


    September 04, 2019


    Study finding show surprising ways connected lighting can reduce noise distribution in the workplace


    Most office-dwellers are used to noise disturbances at work. Chatting colleagues, loud coffee machines and printers, even awkward silences – all are factors in what can be called ‘acoustic discomfort in the workplace.’ Findings from the 2017 survey, undertaken by Leesman and involving more than 250,000 respondents, revealed a strong need to improve acoustic comfort in the workplace. To better understand the challenges in achieving an acoustically comfortable workspace, Signify conducted a qualitative study. We spoke to 30 office workers, facility managers and HR managers about their needs and how our connected lighting systems ( could provide a solution.


    Connected lighting to resolve acoustic discomfort

    The relationship between connected lighting and acoustics may not seem obvious but think of it this way: since lighting is everywhere and each light point can be equipped with an advanced sensor, it can generate precise and valuable data (e.g. noise monitoring, space utilization, climate data, etc.) about a specific area. 

    These data can be translated and visualized in smart tools to gain a better understanding of the work environment and how workspaces are used. This can help determine the most suitable lighting and help improve the work environment.

    Since lighting is everywhere and each light point can be equipped with an advanced sensor, it can generate precise and valuable data"

    Better workspace
    Here are four ways that connected lighting can contribute to a better workspace for your ears (and concentration levels).

    1. Invest in the right acoustic-enhancing technology

    Retrofitting an office with sound-absorbing materials is often seen as the holy grail in solving all acoustic problems. Though it can support acoustic comfort in the workplace, such materials are often installed too late, after the damage has been done, or have too little impact because the root cause of the disturbance is overlooked.

    Having greater insight into the work environment and how spaces are used, will prove more effective in addressing the root cause. It will also help prioritize complaints, allowing for faster and more effective interventions. And by identifying the cause of the disturbance, it can prevent unnecessary investments. This leads us to the next points.

    2. Design the workspace to support activities and (acoustic) needs

    One of the reasons why many open plan offices fail in terms of acoustic comfort is that there are too many different needs, personality types and activities in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ space. And there is often too little variety in spaces that support different activities and acoustic needs.

    Insight into how spaces are used can help to define the right mix of spaces, and how they should be laid out in terms of furniture, lighting, IT facilities, etc. to support the needs and activities of employees in the best way possible.

    Knowing how different spaces are used can also help to define whether spaces are positioned smartly or not. For example, a large lunch table that’s also used for meetings, located next to a silent desk area, is unlikely to enhance productivity.
    Open Office Meeting Room

    3. Ensure that employees use available spaces efficiently

    Having the right spaces in place is one thing but ensuring that employees will be able to find them is equally important. Sometimes people will benefit from stepping out of their workspace/comfort zone to explore other available workspaces that may be more suitable for their (acoustic) needs.

    Employee apps with indoor navigation enabled by our connected lighting systems can guide people to the most appropriate workspace for their activities and needs. Specific lighting can also help indicate the purpose of a workspace and help enhance the activity at the same time, with bright energizing light in focus areas and warmer dimmed light in hospitality areas.

    For instance, when you need to finish a report, instead of booking a meeting room, the app can guide you to a silent area on a different floor where you can work undisturbed, with perfect lighting for focused work.

    Interact office 1
    Signify Office SME Campaign

    4. Engage with employees

    Engagement with employees is incredibly important to create and maintain a comfortable workplace. Fellow employees are often a source of acoustic discomfort yet at the same time they know what causes their own acoustic discomfort.

    Providing employees with insights into their work environment, through indoor navigation apps, can result awareness and a fact-based discussion to address and solve issues. Taking this further, we’re examining options for a feedback tool that will support dialog between (facility) managers and employees.

    Secondly, an office without clear rules and social control is a breeding ground for noise disturbance, as everyone will have different ideas of what behavior is considered ‘normal.’ Indoor navigation apps can support communication about office rules and intended purposes of different workspaces; for instance, by displaying this information in the app on a digital floorplan. Another concept could be the use of notifications. For example, when it is getting too noisy in a silent area, people within that area could receive a notification with a polite request to be quiet, or to be guided to a space that is suitable for collaboration.

    lighting in combination with an IoT platform can offer solutions in surprising areas, and we’re only beginning to unlock all the exciting possibilities"

    And finally…

    As you can see, lighting in combination with an IoT platform can offer solutions in surprising areas, and we’re only beginning to unlock all the exciting possibilities and discovering all the potential use cases.

    More possibilities will arise as available data increases and artificial intelligence advances. Imagine being able to generate a design for the perfect workspace based on data from comparable buildings, or modelling and predicting how a certain intervention in the workspace will affect efficiency and wellbeing.

    At Signify, we will keep sharing our knowledge, experiment and co-create, as doing this is fundamental to determining what makes a great place to work! Please share your thoughts! We are very interested in your experiences and opinion.

    Please feel free to reach out!
    Anne Brevoord Tel: +31 6 39084350 Email:

    About the author:

    Anne Brevoord

    Anne Brevoord
    People Research

    Peter Fuhrmann

    IoT Applications Research

    Vasilis Paschos

    Product Management IoT Applications

    For further information, please contact:

    Anne Brevoord
    Tel: +31 6 39084350

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2023, we had sales of EUR 6.7 billion, approximately 32,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for seven consecutive years and have achieved the EcoVadis Platinum rating for four consecutive years, placing Signify in the top one percent of companies assessed. News from Signify can be found in the Newsroom, on X, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors is located on the Investor Relations page.

    Meydan Bridge

    More blogs

    • Signify’s Philips Outdoor multisensor was ranked as the best multifunctional sensor

      May 23, 2023

      Signify’s Philips Outdoor multisensor was ranked as the best multifunctional sensor

    • Guidehouse Insights’ top smart street lighting vendor

      April 07, 2023

      Guidehouse Insights’ top smart street lighting vendor

    • New ultra-efficient LED tube for energy conservation

      September 08, 2022

      New ultra-efficient LED tube for energy conservation