Can colour make you more productive?

While we might be conditioned to work in offices with white painted walls there are a number of other colours that can be used to promote productivity.


We are aware of different colours around us all the time, but do we always know how they affect us? We all know that being in a lush, verdant environment can make us feel more at ease, but in addition to the abstract appreciation of colours, there is scientific evidence to back up the way we perceive and experience different colours. While we might be conditioned to work in offices with practically white painted walls, with the variety of colours available and the amount of research into colour psychology, there are a number of other colours that can be used in interior design to promote productivity.

In general, while we know that certain colours might have particular effects on ourselves, the truth is that we experience colours in the spectrum differently. The common conception is that a wall painted a certain colour might lead to a desired emotional state, for example, a cool blue painted wall within an office might be a good option for creating a relaxed and soothing environment. This is backed up by research by Angela Wright and the colour affects system that suggests that the four primary colours affect a different aspect of ourselves. Red affects the body, blue affects the mind, yellow affects ego and self-confidence, and green affects the balance between the mind, body and emotions.[su_pullquote align=”right”]As the way we perceive colour is physiological, it makes sense that having to consistently process this colour in a contained environment would have a direct effect on our behaviour. [/su_pullquote]With this knowledge, it is easy to make the connection between the way in which a blue room might be ideal for an office and for getting work done. In addition to this, it is actually not only the colour that influences our behaviour but also the intensity, so the brighter the colour, the more stimulating. A calming blue colour seems completely appropriate for improving productivity then, as a lower saturation of this colour might prove less stimulating and allow for deeper concentration.

While primary colours in isolation can be used to target different aspects of the human mind or body, combining different primary colours can lead to an even greater variety of intentional effects on psychology and well-being. Combining red and blue, for example, to create a shade of purple could create an environment that both appeals to the mind and the body, which may be perfect for an environment intended for stimulating conversations and interaction. As purple is associated with royalty, a purple room could also emphasise associations with wealth and prosperity, which could potentially be highly appropriate for a business environment.

With an awareness of colour and how it influences behaviour and mood, we can create optimal work environments for ourselves. For those who subscribe to the idea of the left and right brain, colours could also be used to accentuate different aspects of employee’s cerebral functioning. For example, those with a more left-brain oriented work style could perhaps be stimulated more creatively with red or orange hues, and those with a right-brain orientation could be encouraged to be more logical and structured with the use of blues or other cooler shades.

In addition to painting walls, there are many other creative ways to use colour to optimise your work environment. For example, using orange accessories could add a touch of spontaneity and boost creative performance, such as scatter cushions on a workbench or orange coloured artworks. Other ideas for incorporating colour accents include lightboxes on the walls, or even different coloured carpets or Perspex wall panels in meeting rooms.

However, the truth is that while all of this may make sense in theory, the application of colour is related to our own preferences, as Wright’s research into colour psychology suggests. So whilst there may be colours that appeal to a wider variety of people who conform to different psychological groups, it is only by recognising which colours work best for you that you can make the most appropriate decision on how to use colour to enhance your productivity. Have a play around and see what works for you and your team.

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