How To Use Colour In The Workplace

It's no surprise that different colours influence different moods and behaviours. However, with so much of our time spent in the office, is your workplace designed effectively for productivity and collaboration?


Decades of academic studies have deduced that colour influences our moods and behaviours in all its various forms. Colour psychology and its associations are becoming more studied due to its positive effects on workplace productivity, its effectiveness in anger management, and its practical uses in psychological treatment. By understanding colours and the emotions they inspire, one can help optimise colour pallets to match the activities and function of workspaces, communal areas and interior design.

As we encroach towards the end of the pandemic, hybrid working and sustainability are taking precedence for workplaces and employees worldwide. Over time interior design, our work environment and will prove influential and impactful for talent-retention, wellness and overall work-life balance. So how does the general population react to specific colours?

Here are a few possible effects and reactions from published case studies.

A Brief History of Colour Psychology

The history of colour psychology dates to Carl Jung, a renowned Swiss psychologist whose work has been influential in psychiatry, anthropology, and literature. Jung's work set the foundations for the basic principles of colour therapy; colours have specific meanings, a person perceiving a colour automatically evaluates it, and the evaluation of the colour causes behaviour induced with the colour.

A TEC centre workplace with blue colour design


The colour blue evokes calmness, serenity, peace, and security. Whether it's due to its resemblance to the sky or the ocean, the similarities to nature aid in reducing stress via the lowering of heart rates and blood pressure. Additionally, studies show that productivity increases within blue rooms - however, darker shades of blue may induce more melancholy moods. In short, blue may be able to help slow down the rhythm or pace of a space.


The most used colours in workplace design are those that can be witnessed in abundance in nature. Green in all its varieties and shades evoke serenity, refreshment, and peace. Having strong decals of green in the office may promote a sense of restfulness, security and calmness. As opposed to blue, green may help energise and vitalise a space.

A TEC centre workplace with green colour design


Predominantly seen in creative industries, yellow brings forth the most positive emotions of any colour and is associated with feelings of happiness and optimism. However, when used brightly – the colour yellow symbolises caution and can over-stimulate the eyes, causing annoyance and irritation.


In Colour Psychology, red provokes the strongest emotions of any colour as it has so many opposing emotional associations. Linked to passion and love but also power and anger, red is an uncommon colour in the workplace. Still, it is commonly used in branding and advertising to capture attention, be energetic, and stimulate consumers' eyes.

Workplace Designs To Avoid

According to Robert W. Lucas, author of ‘The Creative Training Idea Book", one should avoid stripes, checks, plaids and other bold, geometric patterned designs as they are distracting and dramatic. Furthermore, he states these designs are often monotonous and divert attention to work.

Moreover, the authors of the book “Office Space Planning" implore readers to avoid strong and bold colours such as bright red, yellow-green, vivid yellow, violet and purple as they overstimulate, overpower and intimidate.

Colour Psychology In The Workplace

One thing to note is that colour associations are not universal and can have different interpretations across different cultures, age groups and demographics.

Companies looking to utilise colour psychology in their workplace should do so only after evaluating their current office layout and business ethos, as there are many variables to consider. Company branding, the type of activity performed in that workspace, location, and weather are all factors that need to be evaluated to ensure an efficient and productive workspace design.