The fact that colour influences mood and productivity is not a new idea. Even so, more than 68% of offices are painted white. If you want your employees to be as innovative, creative and productive as possible, it may be wise to consider colour theory before you opt for colours for the office.
Angela Wright, the author the book The beginner’s guide to colour psychology, has been studying the effect of colour on people’s behaviour for about four decades. She also assisted companies like Shell, Motorola and The Body Shop with corporate communication. According to Wright, personality does have an influence on how colour is interpreted, but that being said, there are certain associations with colour that can be applied universally.
Wright says blue is the colour that stimulates your mind the most, and therefore it boosts productivity. She also warns that it may not be the case with everyone: Accountants, for example, will probably benefit from a blue office since blue improves efficiency and focus. Other studies describe blue as having a calming effect on people due to the connotations with nature.
If your employees are required to do physical work, red would be the colour to incorporate in workspace interior. Red is associated with urgency and a high-paced environment. Due to the use of red in stop signs and emergency vehicles, we also associate red with danger and caution. A 2009 British study found that, compared to blue, red boosted the performance on detail-oriented tasks such as memory retrieval and proofreading by 31%.
Wright recommends the use of yellow in offices of creative people. Graphic designers, writers, artists and developers benefit from yellow environments. Yellow is a positive and friendly colour and stimulates innovation.
Another colour that boosts creativity and new ideas is turquoise. Turquoise also stimulates motivation.
If you are in a business where a sense of balance is essential, green is the colour to incorporate in office interior. Green is a good colour to use in the financial world, since it communicates calmness and reassurance. Using green in your office interior does not necessarily mean green walls ̶ the same effect can be obtained by adding indoor plants.
Purple is associated with loyalty, vision and future opportunities.
Painting your walls brown might sound unimaginative, but according to Wright, brown communicates reliability, harmony and support. Brown is a friendly and approachable colour ̶ use it in office environments where you want to encourage people to ask for assistance.
COLOURS TO AVOID
A study by the University of Texas found that grey, beige and white offices made especially woman feel depressed, while men disliked purple and orange. Grey offices also let employees feel uninvolved and tired.
Chris Bailey, 2013, The exact color to paint your office to become the most productive”, A life of productivity, http://alifeofproductivity.com/angela-wright-interview/.
Leah Arnold-Smeets, 2015, “Color Me Mad: How Colors Impact Productivity and Mood”, PayScale, http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2015/03/color-me-mad-how-colors-impact-productivity-and-mood.
Rebecca, 2011, “The science of colour: Which colour make you work harder? Be more creative?”, Smarta, http://www.smarta.com/blog/2011/1/the-science-of-colour-which-colours-make-you-work-harder-be-more-creative/.
Resene, [s.a.], “Colour personality”, http://www.resene.co.nz/pdf/Colour_choices/colour_personality.pdf.
University of British Columbia, 2009, “Effect Of Colors: Blue Boosts Creativity, While Red Enhances Attention To Detail”, ScienceDaily, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205142143.htm.