Unconsciously, the color of our office walls, and in some ways, our furniture, will affect how productive we are. There have been millions of articles written about the psychology of color and the influence it has on employees. Before making decisions based on how you want to influence your employees, also keep in mind the context of the space (an advertising agency will be great painted in vibrant colors, while a muted green might be a better choice for a doctor’s office) and the culture of the company and its environs (maybe you want to use the colors of the local baseball team).
An authority on the psychological impact of color on our personality and productivity is Angela Wright, who came up with the Color Affects System. She states that even though a person’s personality will affect how they interpret color, there are certain ways in which color influences everyone universally.
There are four psychological primaries:
- Red = BODY –> Stimulates the body, so perfect for physically active jobs
- Yellow = SELF-CONFIDENCE –> Stimulates the emotions, so great for creative jobs and it makes people more optimistic
- Blue = MIND –> Stimulates the mind, so perfect for office jobs and it will probably raise productivity the most. It can come across as cold, so add some emotion by introducing some orange.
- Green = BALANCE BETWEEN MIND, BODY AND EMOTIONS –> Great in places where money is changing hands, such as banks or trading floors. It has a calming effect, but it can be stagnant, so certain people might be put off by the color, especially if they are very active
Surprisingly, if you combine any of these colors, you will get the effects of both of them. However, Angela points out that it is not actually the color itself that has the most impact on us, but the intensity of the color.
- A strong, bright color will stimulate while a color with low saturation will soothe
So if you are choosing colors for your office:
- First decide on the main color or combination of colors depending on whether you want to affect the mind, body or emotions.
- Then pick the hue based on whether you want the color to stimulate or to soothe.
If you can’t change the color of your whole office, opt for accents so that different teams are surrounded by the colors that will best suit their type of work. You can change up the color of your office furniture, but make sure the colors are in synch with the general decor of the office, such as wall and panel colors.
It is also important to keep your lighting in mind when deciding on the color of your desk:
- If you don’t have a lot of windows in the space, it is best to go with light colors to make the room look bigger; not only for the walls but also for the furniture.
- If you are using indirect light fixtures, you want the furniture and walls to be highly reflective, which can be accomplished by using white or light colors.