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The 3 Best Colors for Office Productivity

Want to keep your employees chugging away in their office cubicles? (By which we mean, chugging like productive little choo-choo trains, not drinking beer like it’s their job.) The answer might be to redecorate the place. As strange as it sounds, studies have shown that the color of the walls can affect the productivity of the people who work within them. Here are three great colors to pick for your office space — and three you might want to avoid.

The Best Colors for Office Productivity

1. Blue

We may be “blue” when we’re feeling down, but a blue room probably isn’t the cause. That’s because blue is one of the more emotionally comfortable colors you can choose for a work environment.

2. Green

Ditto green, which is another soothing, natural color ideally suited for creative environments. More energetic and less conservative than blue, green will probably become an increasingly popular color for offices, thanks to the growing green movement. You can’t really have any kind of ecologically-based business and avoid the green-themed office.

3. Purple

This is the dark horse of the color race. Most people just don’t think of purple as a corporate color. It seems a bit too showy and dramatic for the average office — which might make it a good choice for a certain type of creative industry. Purple can encourage creativity and teamwork, which makes it a good choice for design firms.

On the Fence:

1. Red

Norbert Schwartz, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, says that red environments make people more excited and more energetic, which in turn makes people better at paying attention to the small stuff. For some reason, agitated people seem to be better at detail-oriented work. Which is great, if you’re an accounting firm and also don’t care about raising your workers’ stress levels, and not so great if you need creative work from people or want them to be, you know, happy.

2. White

Have you ever stared at a white wall until your eyes started doing that strobe effect thing? You’ve just proved a point, which is that white is not exactly a relaxing color for a work environment. Basically, as this article points out, you wouldn’t want your therapist’s office to be painted bright white, but it might be reassuring in a hospital setting.

Always a Bad Idea: Yellow

Most of the colors on this list are if/then propositions. If you’re an ad agency, you might want to think about purple. If you’re a hospital, white might be OK. The exception to this rule is yellow, which seems to always be a bad idea for work environments. Unless your goal is to make your workers angry, agitated, and unable to concentrate, then yellow is not the color for you. Come to think of it, we did see a lot of yellow the last time we were at the DMV.

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