In this blog, we are discussing at length the various methods to increase companies’ efficiency by being a good leader (vs. even a great manager), by branding it and acknowledging that employees are the first customers, by being aware of poor human resources management that can be frighteningly destructive, by carefully paying attention to Sustainable Development / Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and more.
One aspect we haven’t yet discussed is… color.
We often overlook the importance of colors in our environment:
How this color depresses us while that one makes us feel happy and energetic.
Most companies have the tendencies to use neutral colors. This is a great mistake!
Think about it:
If a color has the power to depress or energize us, it has also the power to make us feel neutral – neither happy or unhappy; just there – therefore very poorly productive.
We all instinctively know this - this is why we always pay so much attention to pick the right color for the newborn room, or for our bedroom: It must relax and give us a feeling of well-being and security.
Now let’s look at the workspace environment.
You need to select the right color and design that will energize your workforce.
Some colors will make your employees more productive, while others will develop their aggressivity and more will make them careless, uninterested.
A 2007 study demonstrates that “colors (…) influence task performance over time, depending on the individual’s ability to screen distractions.”
The paper goes even further, showing that colors, mainly among other elements such as room design, impact employees’ behavior, productivity, moods and attitude.
More and more employers are looking for ways to make their workplace a better place to live in, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, and are turning to colors to increase their employees’ motivation.
Mark Woodman, President of Color Marketing Group, an industry group for “color design professionals,” says he’s seeing customer-complaint call centers combat stress with cool blues and greens, rather than “aggressive” reds.
Meanwhile, quieter workplaces may paint a wall a bright color to provide a pop of energy without overwhelming the subdued space.
A clear blue sky can make you feel more peaceful, a bunch of daffodils more optimistic.
So it is no surprise that the colors in your office can have an impact on your mood too.
“Red, for instance, tends to be stimulating, and blue, calming”, says color researcher Nancy J. Stone, PhD, a professor of psychology at Creighton University. “How pure and bright a shade is can come into play, too, as well as personal associations with the color”.
Professor Stone goes on, explaining that “vibrant colors such as red and violet excite adrenaline production in the body, which in turn, increases energy and creativity levels. Pale colors neutralize the mood with calming and relaxation as yellows and greens brighten up office workers. Black is an intense, bold color and use of the color, in moderation, creates a powerful atmosphere”.
A quite new science, visual ergonomics, allows to develop an office color scheme and design that will induce expected behavior and attitude in a predefined environment.
If you want to induce trust, calm and openness, you should use a combination of blue, purple and green.
A well-balanced mix of blue and green will increase focus, and give a feeling of lightness and calm.
Studies demonstrate that bright red used in employees lounges and cafeteria will ensure that people will not stay more than they need to, while a combination of blue and soft red will energize them.
In a stressful environment, like law offices or general public areas, cool colors that remind of the sky or the ocean will help people to calm down and allow them to better manage their stress level.
On the other hand, a mix of red and orange wakes up a room and everyone in it! They also help to pay attention to detail as they are powerful mind stimulators.
To promote concentration, olive color should be selected.
We could carry on and on with similar examples.
Let us summarize and make it simple – base colors:
Red and violet
Green and yellow
A combination of colors, designs, etc. are necessary to create the mood you need in order to achieve your goals.
What’s more, a proper use of colors will allow you to highlight a safety hazard, give the feeling that a room is larger than it actually is, turn a boring area into a happy and productive place.
It means also that in order to select the proper color / design scheme, you need to ask yourself what is the purpose of each room and how you want employees to behave and feel in it (remember the cafeteria example above?).
Much too often interior designers and office managers decide of the colors of a workplace for the way it looks at first glance, without considering the implication on the psychology of those working or visiting it.
That's a costly mistake in the long-term that should be systematically avoided.
How colorful is your own work environment?