The science of colour: Which colours make you work harder and be more creative?

Everyone knows that light has a huge impact on our mood and happiness. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects two million people in the UK each year. But the idea that colour can also change the way we feel is often treated with amusement and derision.

Most employed Brits spend more time in the office than they do in their own homes. So, on the off chance that a splash of colour can brighten the lives of the UK workforce, here are a few basic principles of colour theory:


More than 68% of offices are currently painted white. But what if a simple lick of paint could boost creativity at your firm?

The colour to go for if you want to make your staff's synapses sizzle is turquoise. According to research by facilities management firm, Principio, turquoise came out tops as the shade that helped to 'stimulate new ideas' and boost motivation.

What the hippies say:

The colour turquoise creates emotional balance and stability. It combines the peace and tranquility of blue and the stimulation and growth of green with the uplifting energy of yellow. Turquoise heightens levels of creativity and sensitivity.


So you want your employees to work harder? There are two schools of thought on how to get the best results. Blue has long been known to help with focus and endurance.

Research has shown that weightlifters can lift more weight in a blue gym. In an office environment, the right shade of blue can help staff to stay calm in a crisis: seeing the colour blue actually makes the body produce chemicals that are calming. Stick to paler blues throughout and accent with navy or more vivid blues.

Recent studies have also found that red can boost energy levels in office workers. Jane Eyre fans might remember the red room from Bronte's novel, but apparently, the shade doesn't inspire hysteria and anguish as a rule - just in fiction.

What the hippies say:

Red is an energiser. It motivates us to take action. The colour red can stimulate a pioneering spirit and bring out innate leadership qualities, promoting ambition and determination.


Can using a particular colour on your office walls help with staff retention? We're not sure the tactic works in isolation (a pleasant workplace overall, good benefits and great leadership far outweigh the effect of a nice colour scheme). But, here for the sake of argument, are the colours that will make your staff want to stick around.

Cream walls, less stark than white, can make staff more likely to hang about. Why? Because against the blank but soothing background, their own personal possessions - family photos, trinkets, notes and cards - are highlighted, so that they feel they are more in control of their personal space.

Purple has also been shown to encourage staff to stick it out. It's an unusual colour to find in an office and perhaps reflects the unique aspect of the firm itself.

What the hippies say:

Purple and violet represent future opportunities, stimulating the imagination and helping people dream of better times to come. Purple can also calm the spirit and settle the emotions. The colour violet has also been known to inspire unconditional and selfless love.


To keep office relations tickety-boo, paint your walls a soothing brown. Why? Apparently, this is the shade that denotes stability, harmony and - most importantly - support.

Brown is a warm colour that makes people feel more comfortable with asking for help, offering assistance, or even doing the tea round. It's a base shade that is easy on the eye and doesn't distract from the work at hand.

What the hippies say:

Brown is a friendly and approachable colour. It inspires loyal and trustworthy ties with colleagues and friends. It is solid and dependable. Brown encourages a sense of belonging.

Have you tried out a clever colour palette in your office? Tell us about it below.


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