Color Influences Productivity, Creativity and More

Filed Under: Toolbox Articles

By Sheldon Stewart
If you think you struggle with choosing the “right” color for your walls at home, try choosing colors for your workplace! Everyone in the office has an opinion and no one can agree. We suggest taking a more scientific approach. Color is more than a visual experience. It is also a psychological one that effects emotions and moods.
Color can also bring on physiological changes. Don’t believe it? A painting rep once shared that an office full of workers complained after a client changed the color of the office to a blue that it was too cold in the office. The company changed the color from blue to a peach color and these same workers started to take off their sweaters even though the thermostat was on the exact same setting. Amazing how the mind can play these tricks on us!
Science of Color
There is actually a science to this and it is called the psychology of color. While reactions to color are subjective, research has actually been done to prove that certain color patterns pro- vide certain reactions in humans.
Studies done by the University of Texas have shown that bland gray, beige and white offices created feelings of sadness and depression, especially in women. Meanwhile, men had similar gloomy reactions to purple and orange workspaces. Similar studies have shown that colors don’t just change moods, they profoundly impact our productivity and creativity.
Not all businesses will benefit by using office colors that are good for corporate businesses. You need to choose colors appropriate to the age of your clients (or employees if your business does not often have clients visiting), their cultural background and gender, and the type of business you are promoting.
What the Colors ‘Mean’
Now that we’ve covered some of the science, let’s get back to the colors themselves. Keep in mind that it’s not just the color that makes an impact; the intensity of each is also important. So, regardless of the hue you opt for in your office or business design, remember that high intensity will stimulate, while low intensity will soothe.
Blue is an intellectual color. It represents trust, logic, communication, and efficiency. Use blue as the primary color in office areas that require focus and mental strain.
Red is a physical color. It represents courage, strength, and excitement. It’s a great color to use in areas of the workplace that demand physical exertion.
Yellow is the emotional color. It represents creativity, friendliness, optimism, and confidence. Incorporate yellow when you want to stimulate positivity, creativity and happiness.
Green provides balance. It represents harmony, nature, and restoration. Green proves to be a great color in offices that require people to work long hours, since it’s the easiest color on the eyes (requiring no adjustment). It’s also a great color to use anytime a sense of balance is top priority, which is why it’s commonly found in medical offices.
Purple is often associated with spirituality or luxury. It can promote deep contemplation or luxury, but should be used carefully, as too much (or the wrong tone) can have an opposite effect.
Orange blends the physical (red) and emotional (yellow), creating a sense of comfort. It is often associated with food and warmth, and is therefore a natural choice in kitchens. When used appropriately, it is also a fun color, making it an option for a casual office lounge.
Gray often represents neutrality. We commonly see it used in offices attempting to look sleek or modern. However, when used inappropriately, it suggests a lack of confidence and can stimulate a depressing mood. As a result, be cautious when incorporating gray in certain spaces.
Some Advice From the Experts
First, you want to consider the primary function of the room. Second, you’ll want to pick a predominant color — the one that will be the key color in your color pattern. Color patterns are those combinations that create a friendly balance in the room. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use other colors in conjunction or as a decorating feature.
Consider using some online tools such as Sherwin Williams ColorSnap® tools for the website, iPad, or iPhone and Android, or Benjamin Moore’s PERSONAL COLOR VIEWER® to help you find the color you think you want. You can then get a sample and try it on the wall you want to put it on and try a small section to see if you really like it before purchasing large cans of paint.
Don’t worry about the time of year you paint. Once upon a time paint odors made people wait until it was warm enough to keep windows open to air out the house. Most of today’s paints are made using low to no VOC (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are solvents that get released into the air as the paint dries. So low-VOC and no-VOC paints mean that painting indoors can be done anytime.
Finally, Choose Wisely
According to current research, 80 percent of what we mentally absorb is visual. So choose the right colors and shades to achieve what you want your employees and customers to feel.
Sheldon Stewart is President of Stewart Painting, Inc. in Hyannis and Hingham. Learn more at or 508-362-8023.