HR & Management

The seven colours that can have an impact on workplace creativity

5 min read

03 May 2016

Every kind of organisation can benefit from a workforce that thinks and tackles tasks creatively – and one of the most effective ways to foster creativity is to give personnel a colourful and stimulating environment to work in.

But which colours should you use and how should you apply them?

Separate research studies conducted by academics at the University of British Columbia and professional workplace psychologists at Human Spaces, both found that the following colours have a significant impact on creativity, inspiration and enthusiasm:

(1) Blue

Associated with “openness, peace and tranquility,” it helps individuals subconsciously take a creative and open-minded approach to their work.

(2) Red

Commonly associated with danger and mistakes, red can make employees more hesitant and risk-averse, making it better suited to detail-oriented tasks.

(3) Green

Refreshing, revitalising and calming, it’s great for keeping a cool and creative head in the face of demanding deadlines.

(4) Orange

Symbolic of energy, endurance and vitality, it’s ideal for stimulating original and perhaps unorthodox approaches to completing tasks.

(5) Yellow

Signifying freshness and optimism, it can help promote a positive approach to tackling creative responsibilities.

(6) White

Creates a physical and psychological space to move and think freely in.

(7) Purple

Associated with mystery and luxury, it can encourage imaginative, aspirational thinking.

However, whilst each of these colours has the potential to boost creativity in the workplace, they only work when applied creatively and with care.

Too much bright, acidic yellow, for example, can contribute to eye-strain and tension while too much red is thought to make an environment stressful.

In order to successfully utilise colour to boost creativity in your workplace, you’ll need to employ a selection of complementary and contrasting tones in three ways, as a canvas, a feature and an accent, to create an overall, colourful environment in which perhaps one or two colours dominate.

The hard part is not selecting the palette, it’s choosing how and where you apply it to interiors, equipment and accessories and bring the colourful design to life with light and textiles.

Read more on the office environment:

As an example of how this works in practice, we applied feature and accent colours to a grey canvas in the offices of MoneySupermarket.com.

A reception area was brightened with chairs and office partitions that work to complement the company’s branding and spark creativity, while the mix of exposed brick and frosted glass add interest.

A colourful, private workspace was made available for employees to escape the general office floor and focus on creative tasks.

A grey meeting room, which could be drab and uninspiring when filled with standard office furniture, was brought to life with colourful seating designed to help stimulate imaginative discussion.

By using colour to define and differentiate productive, break-out and rest areas, it’s possible to tailor the environment to the task in hand and sustain creativity throughout the day.

In the offices of creative marketing agency, Racepoint Global, blues and yellows of various intensity were applied to help personnel take fresh, original approaches to the creative yet detail-oriented tasks their organisation specialise in.

On a spacious white and light grey canvas, gentle blue tones were used to promote calm, open-minded thinking in meeting rooms while pops of bright yellow were used to create a feature wall and as an accent in light fittings to trigger creativity in rest and break-out areas.

Ultimately, the secret to constructing a workplace interior that boosts creativity lies in the careful selection and application of colours that combine to make the environment stimulating yet harmonious and inspiring yet functional.

Jitesh Patel is the CEO at interior design specialist Peldon Rose

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