The Psychology of Colour in Office Design

Colours have the power to influence our thinking, and spark our imaginations. They can also have a profound effect on our moods, and the ways we behave in the office.

The colour choices we make to showcase the energy and identity of our office spaces say a lot to employees and clients – choose the wrong colour that helps manifest the wrong emotion, and they probably won’t want to stick around to do business with you.


Colours Affect People Differently

While colour psychology and theory isn’t a universal science, using the right colours in the office have been shown to motivate employees to ramp up their energy and think creatively and collaboratively. The wrong colour has also been shown to do the opposite.

A study from the University of Texas has shown that bland and drab colours in the office – like white, beige, and grey – help induce feelings of sadness and depression – particularly in women. Strangely enough, men felt the same way when exposed to purple and orange workspaces. Other studies have successfully shown that certain colours also impact productivity – both for better and for worse. This is tied to the way humans interpret colours and the firing of brain receptors.

Low-wavelength colours, like green and blue, for example, are two of the most common colours found in nature, and being as views of nature and greenery have shown to increase workplace satisfaction and overall happiness, it’s no surprise that blue and green in the office have been shown to boost efficiency and focus, as well as a general sense of happiness and well-being.

High-wavelength colours, like red for example, are immediately tied to intensity, alarm, and even chaos. Consider the colour of fire, fire extinguishers, and passionate objects meant to get the heart racing, like Valentines, lingerie, and exotic sports cars. Red and other high-wavelength colours are perfect for drawing your employees eye to something – like an empowering and motivating company mantra or brand statement.

Certain Colours Provoke Certain Emotions

Yellow is an interesting colour that triggers a hugely beneficial set of office emotions: innovation and optimism. Known to colour psychologists as the “Optimism Colour,” yellow is perfectly suited for use in offices that rely on the creative impulses of their staff members who work in the creative field:

  • Writers and content creators
  • Designers
  • Developers
  • Artistic Directors
  • Producers

Green has been proven to help combat fatigue and invigorate the spirits of offices, meaning that use of green in spaces that can consistently benefit from the refreshing of spirit.  Turquoise is often mentally associated with mass communication, and can play a good role in a conference room or a training room, while dark green is often associated with wealth and prosperity.


Others Can be Restful

Blue is a good stimulator of the mind – it’s used in chromology to support clear thought and aid concentration, so it has a beneficial calming effect that’s useful in environments that require deep and transparent thought. Blue has even been shown to physically slow heart rates, and decrease appetite.

Pink has a similar effect. It’s been shown to settle people down for about a half hour, after which, the colour can help keep someone in a more tranquil state – which may be beneficial to offices that are typically high-strung or filled with a perpetual sense of urgency.


Different Room? Different Colour

One of the key pillars to using the psychology of colour in the office is to utilize it where you need it – one aspect of colour theory doesn’t have to run rampant through the entire office – it’s better to give employees and clients the opportunity to use specific environments to cater to different needs.

Blue to help facilitate feelings of confidence and honesty in one section of the office, green where the creative minds need to focus on collaboration and innovation, and red to help your brand stand out and grab the attention of a potential customer.

A study called “Impact of Colour in Marketing” found up to 90% of knee-jerk reactions towards a product or space were based immediately on the colour of the company’s branding or packaging. Depending on your specific business industry and/or model, colour psychology can help an office to cater certain advantageous emotions and feelings to achieving certain business goals – the key is understanding which colour to use where, and with which types of employees.



The key to harnessing the power and psychology of  chromatic colour theory, is sitting back and first asking what type of emotion and working environment you’re trying to portray. The aura you create with colour can be directly linked to the success of your organization, and to the benefit of your office culture. Aura Office Environments has made it our business to help companies and brands develop distinctive and energetic office atmospheres. Just like colour, an office aura has a profound power and psychological impact on the way its occupants think and act; it’s the subtle art of being able to control these separate energies that allows us to harness the power of colour, and the productiveness and collaboration that come with them.


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