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Office Color Schemes: The Psychology of Productivity

Imagine rows of gray cubicles, in a room with gray walls and gray carpet, and every worker wearing some shade of black, blue or gray. Could this be a lost episode of the Twilight Zone?

Words like “boring” and “bland” likely come to mind.

Maybe your office isn’t full-on, Twilight Zone gray, but if you’ve not given consideration to color in the office, you could be doing yourself and your team a disservice.

Vibrant colors do more than show people that your business is creative and dynamic. Colors can have psychological effects on your employees. Some colors tend to inspire creativity and productivity, while others can produce feelings of depression and sadness. Which would you rather have?

Color basics: Why is color important?

Colors influence how we see and respond to our environment. As a business owner or manager, it’s important to understand how color choices—from your logo to your walls—can impact both your employees’ and your target customers’ perceptions. And sure enough, many studies show that colors have an impact on how customers perceive brands. Colors that fit the personality of your brand make customers more likely to purchase.

How does color affect us?

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Colors can affect people’s focus, energy, and productivity. Do you or your team members feel sluggish at work or have trouble concentrating? If you’re surrounded by oceans of gray or beige, a color makeover may be the solution. Refreshing your work spaces with color is an inexpensive energy boost for your employees and customers.

Which colors are best for your work space? Before we run down the list, let’s understand the basics of color psychology.

What is color psychology?

Color psychology is the study of colors and how they affect people. Scientists observe changes in the body and brain that occur when people view certain colors.

Studies have found that colors impact factors such as productivity, creativity, and communication. If you want to increase output, inspire creative thinking, and promote harmony at work, here’s a quick and handy guide to choosing colors that will produce the effects you want.

Specific Colors and Their Effects

The four psychological primary colors are green, blue, yellow and red (Google’s logo is an excellent example of incorporating these powerful primary colors). How do these and other colors influence your work environment?


To boost creativity, incorporate green into brainstorming spaces or places where computers are used. The color green also:

  • promotes harmony and balance
  • reduces anxiety
  • reduces eye strain

Try adding some plants for a simple way to include green in your color scheme. Green office furniture or decor can add a pop of color.


Blue may be the healthiest color. Blue lowers heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Like green, blue is great for brainstorming and detail-oriented work. Blue also:

  • calms and soothes
  • promotes trust and communication
  • improves efficiency and focus

Bring some zen to your office by choosing decor and furniture in shades of blue.


The color of sun and fun, yellow is a welcoming, energizing, color. It’s best used in creative, active environments. Yellow is also known to:

  • stimulate optimism
  • encourage focus and direction
  • promote innovation

Don’t go overboard, though. Too much yellow can increase anxiety or even your appetite. So feel free to paint the break room yellow, but limit yellow to accents and decor elsewhere.


Red can make people feel that a room is warmer than it actually is. Red works well in spaces that involve physical activity or nighttime work. Red can also:

  • increase brain wave activity
  • boost heart rate and blood flow
  • incite activity

Use red as an accent color to create a sense of warmth. However, red can also rouse feelings of anger or hostility, so don’t overdo it.


If you find yourself feeling exhausted at work, orange may be the pick-me-up you need. Orange inspires energy and endurance, making it perfect for creative spaces.

Too much orange can stimulate appetite, so use it as an accent color on walls or in decor. You don’t want your creative process derailed by a snack attack.


Research shows that all-white walls make employees more error-prone. However, white can also promote creativity and create a sense of spaciousness.

When used as an accent color, white can either tone down bright colors or make them more vibrant, depending on how it's used. Incorporate white as an accent wall or in office decor to create balance.


Gray has been found to generate sadness, depression and a lack of confidence, which you definitely don’t want in your office. However, gray is a good accent color to highlight the bright colors you want people to notice, and to anchor an otherwise light or brightly colored environment.

How can I get started with color?

Now that you know the effects of different colors, you can choose colors that create an effective, enjoyable environment. Select a couple of colors to try and see if they generate the desired effects.

Need help incorporating color into your work space? Our team can help you design an appealing, functional environment. Call us at 877.779.3409 or use this form to send us an email.



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