In our earlier post on improving office productivity, we mentioned the effect that colour can have on the office environment. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at this fascinating subject, and how you can use colour within your office design to improve productivity and morale in your workplace.

We all understand the psychology of colour on an instinctual level; we know that some colours are exciting, some soothing, and that they can make us feel happier, more focussed, or (if done poorly) overwhelmed. It’s natural, then, to want the right colour scheme in your office. If you search the internet for the best office colour, you’ll find plenty of sites telling you that it’s blue – but that’s an oversimplification. In fact, there’s a wide range of factors that you need to consider.

Stimulating or Soothing?

Different workplaces have different requirements. Some may benefit from an exciting, stimulating atmosphere – others, such as healthcare providers, may prefer a more soothing environment. How you achieve this, however, is not so much a function of the colour but of the intensity of that colour. A bright colour, such as those on the left of the image below, will be stimulating; a less saturated, lighter version, such as that on the right, will have a more soothing effect.


The Psychological Primaries

In colour psychology, there are four primary colours; red, yellow, blue and green, each relating to a different area. Red affects the body, yellow the emotions, blue the mind and green promotes balance. This is the key to creating the right colour scheme for your particular workplace; establish which areas you want to stimulate or soothe, and choose the right colours accordingly.


Red: The Body

If there’s physical work to be done, red is a great colour for productivity because it stimulates the body. It’s also often connected to dominance and aggression; this is one reason to use it sparingly, but it can also be used to positive effect when your work requires staff to be fired up and energetic.


Yellow: The Emotions

Yellow is an excellent colour to bring into the workplace, because it makes people feel optimistic; it reminds them of sunshine. It stimulates the emotions, so it’s a great colour for creative workplaces where you need to go with your instincts more than your mind.


Blue: The Mind

Blue is the best colour for stimulating the mind; if you have intellectual work to do, then blue is absolutely the right colour to boost that, and that’s why you’ll so often see it named as the best office colour. Choosing a vibrant blue will stimulate thought, whereas subtler shades can soothe and create a calm space – which can be a bonus for stressful workplaces.


Green: Balance

Green, as a colour abundant in nature, evokes a sense of balance and harmony which can be very beneficial to a workplace. It is also a very reassuring colour, so can be used to create a sense of trust and reliability.

Combine and Conquer

You will often find that a combination of colours creates the best effect; that’s why we said earlier that “blue is the best office colour” is an oversimplification. Yes, it’s a great colour for stimulating the mind, but focussing entirely on blue without using the other primaries means that you’re overlooking the body, the emotions, and that important balance. That’s one of the reasons that it can be seen as a cold colour. You can balance it by combining the emotional yellow and the physical red to make orange; not only does this harmonise the psychological primaries, but as they are opposing colours on the colour wheel they really pop and create an effective contrast. (This is why you’ll so often see the two colours together on movie posters!)

Here at Officescape, we’re experts in office design in London; whatever kind of workplace you want to create, we can help you with a unique and personalised design-led solution. For more information, get in touch with us on 01553 811 833 today.

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