The color scheme of your office design may not seem like a very big deal, but in terms of employee productivity, it can make all the difference. Studies show warm tones engender cheerful, energetic, productive, and creative attitudes, and cool elements boost creativity and teamwork while still being relaxing and soothing. So how do you choose what's best for your brand, company, and employees?

What are the best colors for your company culture?

The last thing you want to do is design your office around colors that contradict the environment you're trying to achieve. Cohesiveness, unity, and teamwork are all served by warm reds and yellows, while cool blues, greens, and purples give an air of creativity, ingenuity, and forward thinking, while also reducing stress. While neutrals, like gray and brown, can be drab and energy draining on their own, as a base for brighter colors, they can anchor a space and mute bright colors that might otherwise be overwhelming. You want your space to say everything your company is about, and choosing colors wisely is an easy way to make a big impact.

What Your Potential Office Colors Say About Your Brand

Blue

One of the most versatile shades, blue has the ability to be vibrant or soothing, calming in hectic environments, and yet help workers stay alert and productive. According to a study that measured human biometrics in different color environments to determine performance, reaction time, and alertness, the ideal blue is 460 nanometer saturation to simulate the daytime sky. This improves alertness, particularly for workers working at night, and reduces stress in busy environments. Take care of using too much blue, however. That produced fatigue, depression, and negatively affected melatonin levels in the employees.

The Beats LA offices uses blue throughout their building, not only to keep employees pumped and energized but to relax and calm, as well.

Red

This vibrant color energizes people, quite literally. Studies show red increases blood flow, boosts heart rates, and brain activity is recorded in a warm, red environment. The biometric study put the perfect red at 640 nanometers of saturation to improve alertness, spark ideas, and build energy. Like blue, too much red can have negative impacts, such as competitiveness and quicker tempers, since red is the color of anger. Red is also a color that inspires hunger, so proximity to a snack machine or lunch room might be beneficial to those in that environment.

YouTube's LA office uses red to great effect throughout the building, and the energy is palpable even from pictures. Even as primarily an accent color, red has a buzz that keeps people going.

Green

The color of nature and fresh air is associated with growth and renewal. This correlates to broader thinking and creativity and can feed the impulse of innovation and momentum. Softer shades also have the same soothing properties as blue, so for stressful environments, green can reduce anxiety and promote balance with the added benefit of being easy on fatigued eyes.

Yellow

Long considered the color of happiness, yellow is sunshine, smiley faces, and cheer. It promotes optimism, so for those companies hoping to add a pep to their employees' steps, yellow makes a great accent color. Too much, however, and you can have hungry employees again. There's a reason McDonald's color scheme has long been red and yellow.

The LinkedIn offices in San Francisco consistently use yellow and other bright colors as accents to add interest and uniqueness to their redesigned space.

Pink

Believe it or not, pink is a calming color, and such a powerful one it's often used in high stress environments to diffuse aggressive behavior. The upside is pink is also a happy, energetic color that doesn't come with the pesky hunger pangs of yellow. Whether used on walls or as an accent, pink brings focused energy not many colors can pull off.

Brown

Often associated with a desire to go unnoticed, brown is a wonderful color to convey steadfast strength and professionalism. Combined with the textures of wood or the outdoors, brown is an extremely versatile color when paired with almost any other color of the palette. Warm shades are ideal backdrops against more vibrant colors like red or teal, and doesn't have to be stodgy.

The Nike offices in NYC make great use of brown as a way to anchor a room while breaking up the monochromatic scheme of their building. The textures are also very inviting.

White

Despite being clean and modern, white is a color to be careful with. In cool tones, it carries cold, clinical connotations, and if it's too monochromatic, people become easily distracted and prone to errors. However, as an accent color, it can tone down brighter colors and add softness it cannot pull off on its own.

Gray

Another color one must take particular care with, gray is associated with blandness or depressing spaces. However, like brown, it's a wonderful anchor color, and can also mute other too-bright hues. Too much gray can be oppressive, but in the right amount, and with the right coolness, it can sooth fatigued eyes and frayed nerves and make those brighter colors really pop.

Color and Texture Influence Mood, Perception and Project Outcomes

It's not all about mood, either. Room color impacts temperature perception. People feel warmer in warmer colored spaces, and colder in cool colored environments. So companies in warmer regions can consider cool colors, and vice versa, to actually save on HVAC budgeting.

Texture, patterns, and materials have an impact as well, so says a report by Human Spaces. Productivity increases by 8%, and feelings of wellbeing go up by 13% in spaces that include natural textures, patterns, and materials.

The colors of your website and your logo are very obviously important for public perception of your company aesthetic, but the colors of your offices have the distinction of impacting your employees. Both are equally important, so why not take the time to consider which colors best represent your culture, values, and needs, and really invest in their implementation? Your employees will thank you for it.

Published on: Feb 8, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.