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Psychology of Colour in the Workplace

Many people will have a favourite colour but few will realise the subconscious effects colours can have. There is a wealth of research in psychological fields into the effect colour can have on factors such as mood and productivity. Although findings can be somewhat specific to an individual or those from the same culture, some universal similarities have emerged. This article shall look at these psychological associations with different colours and how they can be used to encourage positive effects in the workplace.

Psychology of colour in the workplace


Green is calming colour with positive connotations of nature and being outdoors. This has been supported by research from the University of Georgia which found, out of 13 colours, green was rated as evoking the most positive emotions such as relaxation and comfort. Green would therefore be a good colour for an office environment as it could help workers feel positive, happy and relaxed within their workplace.


Blue colours in an office are popular due to their calming feel and undistracting nature. From a working standpoint, findings from Dr Stone of Creighton University concluded studying in a blue environment was associated with an increased positive mood, compared to a red study cubicle. Additionally, research from the University of Glasgow found blues were amongst the most emotionally positive colours, rating highly for being ‘pleasant’ and ‘calming’. A blue coloured office, or an office with blue accents, could therefore aid positivity, calm and productivity in the workplace.


Yellow is a bright colour with associations with optimism and cheerfulness which can be utilised, to some extent, in an office environment. Research has supported that people find a saturated yellow to be stimulating; this may be why people claim it enhances creativity. However, too much yellow can become an eyesore through over-stimulation and subsequent eye strain and can even lead to increased irritability. To get the positive benefits, it should be used sparingly in an office or in paler shades.


Red is a bold colour which draws the eye and has connotations with danger and passion. Although red may be used effectively to draw attention to things, it should be used sparingly. Psychological research from Elliot and colleagues found that exposure to the colour red impaired subsequent achievement in tasks; similarly, further research from Dr Stone found performance in reading tasks in red environments was significantly reduced. This reduction in performance could be due to the colour being distracting and therefore, not a colour you would want to be widespread in your office if you want to get the best from your employees.

What to avoid

As discussed above, prevalent reds may not be conducive to an optimal working environment. Another colour to actively avoid is a yellow-green mix as this is consistently found to be an unpleasant colour and can inspire negative connotations and emotions – not something you want in your workspace!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, too much white and grey in a workplace is also a no-no. Too much white in offices often ends up looking clinical, bland and uninspiring. Furthermore, the colour white reflects light, leading to glare which can cause eye strain and headaches. On the opposite end of the scale, combining a lot of dark colours should also be avoided so as to avoid a gloomy, dismal and confined feeling workspace.

If you feel your office could be improved or is in need of refurbishment, get in touch with CPS Interiors to help you revitalise your workplace. We can help you make the most of the space you have and create a stylish and practical office space. In addition to the aesthetic benefits, a great office can improve employee satisfaction and your company identity. Please contact CPS Interiors for more information on our wide range of high quality interior design products and services.


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