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Color Me Mad: How Colors Impact Productivity and Mood


Your favorite color might not be the best choice for the paint in your home office. Research shows that certain colors are capable of boosting productivity and mood, while other colors have more of a negative impact on disposition. Read on to learn more about how different hues send different cues to your brain and how that affects your every day.

effects of color

(Photo Credit: Andrei Zmievski/Flickr)

Studies have confirmed that color has the ability to influence a person’s mood, energy level, productivity, and more. One such study performed by the University of Texas “found that bland gray, beige, and white offices induced feelings of sadness and depression, especially in women,” according to an Entrepreneur post. Men, on the other hand, had similar dismal feelings towards the colors purple and orange.

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According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and founder of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, we mainly associate colors with how we are most familiar with them in everyday life.

“We have a repository of information about a color,” Eiseman says in The Huffington Post. “For example, the color blue is almost always associated with blue skies, which when we are children is a positive thing — it means playing outside and fun. Evolutionarily it also means there are no storms to come. This is why it is reminds us of stability and calm.”

This very same concept applies to an office setting where employees are expected and encouraged to be cheerful, productive, kind, creative, and energized. What colors promote this type of work environment? Let’s take a look.

Green – This color causes the least amount of strain on the eyes and is also associated with nature (e.g., grass), which is calming. Green is also a good color choice for people who sit in front of their computer screens for long periods of time. A great way to incorporate green into your workspace is to add some indoor plants that add a touch of life and greenery — bring nature to you.

Blue – As with green, blue is another color that has a calming effect and is also associated with nature (e.g., blue skies or water). Blue is also representative of being stable, and Eiseman suggests that men wear this color on dates because, as she puts it, “Women love seeing stable men.”

Green and blue are also associated with improved efficiency and focus in a workplace setting.

Red – The color of love is also the one that is most associated with a sense of urgency, high-energy levels, and an elevated heart rate. Red should be used sparingly in an office setting because of its intense effects. In this case, too much of a good thing can backfire and result in anxious, high-stress employees who may become irritable and angry after a while. For this reason, keep the crimson accents in areas of the office where employees don’t spend too much time, like hallways, bathrooms, or the break room.

Yellow – Want more cheerful employees? Use yellow around the office, then. Mellow yellow is a great hue of choice if you want to create a cheerful, positive, and friendly environment to work. According to Entrepreneur, “It is believed to trigger innovation and is best used in work environments where artists, writers, designers, developers and other creative professionals work.”

What colors should you absolutely steer clear of in the office? Studies show that bland, neutral tones such as gray, beige, and white have adverse effects on a person’s psyche than the other colors listed above. For instance, gray encourages individuals to be passive, be uninvolved, and have a lack of energy. If your office space does incorporate these lackluster colors, then add some pops of color to accessorize and liven up your space so it promotes a more positive, energetic work environment for you to tackle your career goals.

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What color(s) could you use in your workspace? Share your reasoning with our community on Twitter and join the conversation. 

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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SG Staley
SG Staley

Funny how I followed in Kathleen’s steps. I chose a aqua- seafoam like color for my office and love it!

Kathleen Duval
Kathleen Duval

So true! I ended up choosing aqua for my office color and am very pleased.

Laura Nass
Laura Nass

Why is it that so many people talk about red/green /blue’yellow, and completely ignore purple and orange? Granted, you did talk about grey and neutrals in general, but there are many more colors than just those four.

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