Using colour psychology to design the workplace

Employees spend such a big chunk of their lives at work, so you want to make sure you’ve designed your workplace in a way that gets the best out of them for your business.

Colour psychology explores the emotions that different colours trigger in us. The emotions we feel influence our decisions, our moods and our actions.

Colours are often used in retail settings to encourage people to buy a product or to evoke a particular feeling towards a brand. E.g “Sale” signs are often red to give off a sense of urgency that makes customers want to make an impulsive purchase. But how can you use colour psychology to encourage the emotions you want employees to experience within your workplace?

Understanding Colour Psychology in the workplace

One thing most workplaces will have, whether it’s an office, factory or a retail setting, is clear branding for employees and customers. Often, the colours used in your branding are the same colours used when designing the workplace.

Before you can use colours to influence emotions and behaviour in your workplace, you should have a basic understanding of what emotions each colour triggers. What does your brand or workplace say about you?

Making colour psychology work with your brand

After seeing the colours above, you might be thinking that your brand colours don’t trigger the emotions you want in your employees – so what should you do now?

The first question you should ask yourself is “how consistent do you need to be with your brand?”. While brand consistency can give some a feeling of familiarity and comfort, some employers choose to have different designs in different locations to relate more closely to the demographics in each area. If you’re a retailer, you should also consider that while your customers may need one thing from your brand, your employees may need another.

If your employees and customers tend to share much of the same space (e.g. a shopfloor or a hair salon), consider how you can design the employee-only spaces with colours that trigger the emotions you’re after, even if they may not be present in your branding. If your brand colours include a lot of red and yellow, the customer-facing spaces could be triggering a lot of high-energy in your employees – consider using greens in your staff room to give employees a chance to unwind.

Applying colour psychology around the workplace

Really think about the emotions you want to trigger in your employees in each different part of the workplace. E.g. in a traditional office setting, you may want the entrance to have orange colours that welcome employees in, blue tones in the main work area to encourage productivity and yellow in the meeting rooms to lead to more creative sessions.

When it comes to physically applying colour psychology in your workplace, you should think strategically about the best way to do this. I.e. Maybe painting all of your walls green isn’t the best way to get your desired psychological impact – instead, you could use green plants for the colour impact as well as the physical benefits of nature in the workplace.

Some colours, like red or black, can have a negative impact on our emotions or physical wellbeing when used too much – for example, black retains heat which can cause an uncomfortable office space in the Summer while red can fatigue the eyes and cause headaches.

Consider the other elements that are part of your workplace design that you could use to inject your desired colours into the workday – furniture, posters, blinds, even the colour of the cutlery in the kitchen space…

Colour psychology is one of many areas that affect how well your employees work, how well they feel and how well they represent your business to your customers – getting it right can be key to your business’ success, while getting it wrong can be seismically damaging to the brand, the image, the culture and employee engagement, and not to mention -expensive!

At Resolution Interiors, we’ve designed workplaces for different types of employees – from retail to offices, food outlets to factory workshops, small staff to large – we’re experts at creating workspaces that work. We can help you design and build a workplace that suits your brand and business objectives – discuss your workplace design project with our expert team.

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