Businesses rarely give the colour of their office serious attention, yet numerous studies have suggested that this may affect staff in many ways, including influencing productivity, creativity and retention. Moreover, 80 percent of office staff believe that the colour of their environment has a significant impact on both their performance and emotions.
Go into an office in London and it will almost certainly be white or off-white. White is modern and sophisticated; it also reflects light very well so is ideal for making an office feel more spacious than it really is. However, some colour psychologists argue that white is sterile, uninspiring and not conducive to work.
In fact, according to one study, the majority of workers prefer to work in blue or blue-green surroundings. This is important because people have been shown to perform ten percent better at problem-solving when tested in a room painted with their favourite colour.
Why are blue and green the most popular colours? The answer to this may lie in our connection to nature. Whilst we are kept away from nature in our offices, we still have a deep need to be in touch with it. Blue reminds us of the sky and the sea, whilst green brings plants and fields to mind. Because of this, we generally find both colours to be soothing and serene.
Of course, unless your boss is a hippy, these facts won’t persuade him or her to change the colour of your office. There is however evidence to suggest that blue and green do have a positive effect on performance. Blue has on several occasions been linked to high productivity and to enhanced brain function, whilst both blue and green have been shown to boost creativity. Why they enhance creativity researchers do not know, but they have theorised that blue makes people feel safe about thinking outside the box, and that green is associated with growth and may therefore serve as a cue to strive for new ideas and improvement. If you are also concerned about the image your office portrays to visitors, it is worth noting that green could associate your company with an environmentally-friendly culture.
Whilst blue and green are the most popular colours, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be right for your office. People’s reactions to various colours may vary according to their cultural background or their past experiences. For example, one person may dislike the colour green because it reminds them of a medicine they had to take as a child.
Other colours worth considering include red, yellow and orange. Red stimulates energy and has connotations of danger, so may keep staff motivated and on alert – perhaps useful for security staff and sales teams; yellow may bring out your team’s confidence and optimism; whilst orange can complement blue by adding a sense of warmth and sociability. Finally, remember that whatever you go for, colours are rarely seen in isolation and using one colour alone may be overpowering. Creating an optimal office design is like writing a piece of music – just as beautiful music is about how individual notes are put together, a beautiful room is about how individual colours are brought together.