Office Color Schemes: The Psychology of Productivity

Vibrant colors do more than show people that your business is creative and dynamic. Colors influence how we see and respond to our environment and have a psychological effect to employees. Some colors tend to inspire creativity and productivity, while others can produce feelings of depression and sadness.


As a business owner or manager, it’s important to understand how color choices, from your logo to your walls, can impact both your employees’ and your target customers’ perceptions. In this article we will focus on the employee side and will explain what colors affect people’s focus, energy, and productivity.


Which colors are best for your workspace?

Before we run down the list, let’s understand the basics of color psychology. Studies have found that colors impact factors such as productivity, creativity, and communication.


Research has also shown that each color affects a different part of us. The four psychological primaries are: red, blue, yellow, and green. And they affect the

  • body (red),
  • the mind (blue),
  • the emotions, the ego, and self-confidence (yellow),
  • and the essential balance between the mind, the body, and the emotions (green)

Interestingly, when you combine more than one color, you get the effects of both oft hem. For example, if you combine a highly-saturated yellow with a highly-saturated blue, you will get a color that stimulates both your emotions (yellow) and mind (blue).


NASA conducted also a study during the design of the Moon and Mars Transfer Habitation Space Module about how color affects the mood & productivity of workers in high-density work environments. This is not only applicable to workplaces like call centers or dense open offices, but also to generally all office workplaces.


White & natural colors


White – or natural colors – such as creams & beige is often used by corporate and more serious types of businesses such as Banking/Finance/Insurance/Legal to create a refined & sophisticated look. But these colors can also give the impression of being boring & safe – staid & dull. Workers in close quarters were found to be least productive in a monochromatic white office environment.


Black – Gray – White


Research shows that all-white walls make employees more error-prone. However, white can also promote creativity and create a sense of spaciousness. When used as an accent color, white can either tone down bright colors or make them more vibrant, depending on how it is used.

Gray has been found to generate sadness, depression and a lack of confidence, which you definitely don’t want in your office. However, gray is a good accent color to highlight the bright colors you want people to notice, and to anchor an otherwise light or brightly colored environment.



color_yellowThe color of sun and fun, yellow is a welcoming, energising, color. It’s best used in creative, active environments. Yellow stimulates your ego and spirits, and makes you more optimistic.

It takes guts to be creative and come up with something new – that’s why yellow works in a creative environment.

  • Encourage optimism
  • Supports focus and direction
  • Promote innovation
  • Stimulate creativity
  • Welcoming and energising


Don’t go overboard, though. Too much yellow can increase anxiety or even your appetite. So feel free to paint the break room yellow, but limit yellow to accents and decor elsewhere.


Soft yellow is great for a Telephone Sales office – where the staff needs to maintain a positive frame of mind while managing cold call rejection. Soft yellow is cheerful & happy – increases cardiopulmonary activity – increases energy flow – and enhances productivity.



Blue may be the healthiest color. Blue lowers heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Like green, blue is great for brainstorming and detail-oriented work.

For a lot of routine office work and to stimulate your mind, blue will be the most productive color. For example blue probably would make an accountant more productive.


If you do mind-work all day, we recommend some blue elements in your office, but spicing it up with a some orange to introduce a bit of emotion into your mind-stimulating rooms.

  • Ideal for detail-oriented work
  • Calms and soothes
  • Promotes trust and communication
  • Improves efficiency and focus
  • Lowers heart rate, blood pressure


Blue is also ideal for a high call volume Telephone Answering Service/Order Entry Dept. – where Agents must focus & concentrate under pressure to accurately transcribe the information being provided to them by callers. Blue helps to maintain keep a calm atmosphere – slows the heart rate – suppresses hunger – and reduces blood pressure.



color_greenIf you’re in an environment where having a strong sense of balance is the most important, green might just be the color that makes you the most productive. Because it’s so balanced, calming, and reassuring, it’s great to use around anywhere money is changing hands. On the downside green can also be very stagnant and inert.


Adding some plants is a simple way to include green in your color scheme.

  • Promotes harmony and balance
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Calming, and reassuring
  • Reduces eye strain
  • Tend to be stagnant and inert


Green is a good choice for a Customer Service & Support Contact Center. Green – a mix of blue and yellow – is a well balanced color that helps workers weigh the pros & cons of a situation – and to show more empathy with callers. Green also helps to maintain a tranquil & calm work atmosphere.



color_redIf you want to be more productive doing something physical, red would make you more productive than either blue or yellow, because it stimulates you physically. Red can make people feel that a room is warmer than it actually is. Red works well in spaces that involve physical activity or nighttime work.


A red accent wall in the lunch room/cafeteria can increase the appetite – generate a feeling of excitement – and create a social & talkative atmosphere.

  • Increase brain wave activity
  • Boost heart rate and blood flow
  • Incite activity
  • Physical strength and stimulus”.



color_orangeIf you find yourself feeling exhausted at work, orange may be the pick-me-up you need. Orange inspires energy and endurance, making it perfect for creative spaces.


Too much orange can stimulate appetite, so use it as an accent color on walls or in decor. You don’t want your creative process derailed by a snack attack.

  • Inspires energy and endurance
  • Stimulate appetite
  • Good for creative spaces




color_turquoiseTurquoise in light to medium tones is appropriate for walls in training rooms. Turquoise helps in calming the nerves of trainees and is a good color for a teaching environment.

  • Calming the nerves
  • Teaching environment



color_lavenderLavender is a calming & relaxing and a good choice for washrooms.

  • Calming & relaxing
  • Washrooms




Color combination

Colors hardly ever exist in isolation; they’re usually surrounded by other colors. Color works exactly the same way as music, as Thelonius Monk said, ‘there are no wrong notes’. Music and color work in the same way. There are no wrong colors either. It’s how we use them.” A color or musical note “doesn’t actually evoke much of an emotional response until it’s put with other colors, or other notes. And then, in both cases, whether you get a positive or negative emotional reaction depends on the relationship between the colors or the notes.

It is not only the color itself that affects your behavior, it’s how intense a color is that affects how you respond to it. A strong bright color will stimulate, and a color with low saturation will soothe.



Article by Lukas Guy Schnider,
Managing director of regroup co., Ltd.,
M.Sc. ETH Architecture


About regroup architecture

regroup architecture is a Bangkok based architecture design firm. 2014 founded by Michael Chompookas Hansen and Lukas Schnider, focusing on contemporary, innovative, and sustainable architecture and interior design.

regroup architecture covers the whole design and planning process including construction management and contracting as turn key solution.

We see us as a mediator between Europe and Asia, a combination of Swiss design, European knowledge, and local Thai experience.

Beside residential and commercial projects, we did in the recent years many office fit-out projects for established and start-up companies like Asian Tigers Mobility, eatigo, foodpanda, sevenpeaks software, rabbit finance, MAQE, gogoprint, HotelQuickly, and PlanB media.