How colors impact productivity in the workplace

March 18, 2015

In Management & Organizational Performance

colors at work

What color should you paint your office?

You want it to be beautiful, but what if I told you that your colors in the workplace affect decision-making, productivity, happiness, creativity, communication … In this article, I’ll show you how colors can impact your business.


You’ve decided to paint your office in white for the brightness and the clean aspect of the color and you’ve installed an iMac on every desk. It’s beautiful! But burnout risks have increased by 25 per cent.

Achromatic environments (like white and gray) are not vivid and are non-productive. The gray color doesn’t arouse any emotions. Just take old brown/beige offices from the 80s as an example!


Warm colors are very stimulating. Red is the right color for more productivity! An office with red elements activates the left hemisphere of the brain and increases productivity. But don’t overuse it, or else your employees may never leave the office and will end up feeling a little tired.


A yellow/orange environment fosters decision making. If you have important and difficult choices to make, try to confine yourself in a yellow room. Orange is the color for communication and happiness: perfect for your reception desk!


Blue increases creativity. It is the perfect color for rooms where people need to be creative on a daily basis, like graphic designers, researchers, architects, game designers, etc. If you manage an advertising agency, the space of your creative team should contain blue elements to help them generate the best ideas. A blue computer screen is also recommended! However, it must be combined with other colors such as red, yellow or pink, if you don’t want to cause a numbing effect.


Green has always been a relaxing color. It fosters concentration and it activates both hemispheres of the brain at the same time. It’s also the perfect color for reading! Think about it, wouldn’t you like reading a book in the grass, on your terrace surrounded by flowers, or under a tree? What colors are the lamps in libraries? Green! After a conference at Altrum on the impact of colors, a few colleagues of mine have suggested to create a private green room for employees who need to concentrate or read. Plants can also fulfil the same function.


If Edith Piaf chose pink (rose in French) for her famous song La vie en rose, it is not by accident. Pink activates positive emotions, soothes the mind and reduces stress. Purple also increases productivity, but specifically in … your bedroom. So I won’t talk about it here.


We must not overuse these colors, even if they fit with the context. Jean-Gabriel Causse (colorist designer who inspired me to write this article after his lecture on “The amazing power of colors”) advises to paint only one of four walls and to complete with colored accessories or furnitures.

Branding should not be confused with colors in the office. If the logo of your creative agence is red, you’ll probably want to put red everywhere. But your designers and copywriters… might be less creative. Natural light, appropriate colors and contrast will increase your employees’ productivity, creativity and happiness!


At Google, offices are very colorful (and it is not related to their branding). Employees gather in blue rooms to create and in yellow rooms to make decisions. There are also many colorful structures here and there in the office.

The influence of colors may be unconscious, but it is nonetheless effective! Properly used, colors help you innovate, reach your targets, and lower your turnover rates. Think about it when you’ll repaint your office!