office fit out and refurbishment london

Choosing Colour for Productivity

It’s bad enough when it’s the lounge wall that needs painting. Let alone picking curtains to match the new sofa. As for the wallpaper for the kitchen….? How many of us have spent months with blobs of colour painted from mini pots all minutely different in shade to its neighbour deciding which one we want the wall to be?

Picking the colour of the office is no small task either. Taking the responsibility of choosing the colour that the majority will like whilst not just sticking to boring magnolia is not easy. But there is some science behind colour to help make your choices easier.

Colour can profoundly affect how productive you are. Research suggests that blue colours affect the mind, yellow the emotions, red the body and green your ‘balance’. A combination of colours can influence behaviours one way or another.

Angela Wright, author of The Colour Affects System and consultant to a variety of companies such as Shell, British Telecom, The Body Shop and Proctor & Gamble has been studying how colour affects behaviour for over 40 years. What she surmises is that whilst personality affects the interpretation of colour, on a universal level, colour does touch everyone and is deeply scientific.

Colour surrounds our everyday lives. It travels to us on wavelengths of photons from the sun. When they strike an object, the object absorbs only the wavelengths that match its own atomic structure, reflecting the rest, which is the part that we see. Different wavelengths strike the eye in different ways. In the retina, they are converted into electrical impulses that pass to the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which governs our endocrine system and hormones and much of our activity.

According to Colour Affects System, blue stimulates the mind, yellow inspires creativity, red affects the body and green creates a calming balance. Even more important, the theory continues, is the saturation and intensity of the colour you choose.  Highly saturated, bright colours will stimulate whilst softer, muted colours will soothe.

Chances are you can not change the colour of your whole office unless embarking on a complete refurbishment, so instead, opt for accents so that different teams are surrounded by the colours which best suit their type of work.

The right workplace can greatly increase productivity, but if you are not convinced by colour therapy, there are other ergonomics to consider when thinking of an office refurbishment.

Ditch the Detritus!

Keeping desks and office environments clear of clutter, unnecessary papers and holiday souvenirs from 1985 and beyond greatly increases productivity, organisation and positive mental attitudes. “Can’t see the wood for the trees” is not just a saying asking us to consider the bigger picture rather than getting bogged down with the details. Searching for files on an untidy desk can be time consuming and detract from the end game. Considering why a person’s desk is untidy is also important. If they are just generally scruffy, productivity training may be the answer, but if the scanner and any filing areas are simply too far away from the desk to make the journey productive, office layouts may also be to blame (along with that 1985 trinket seller in Tenerife!)

Bringing the Outside In

If a full colour-overhaul is impossible, consider pot plants to add colour and life. Two studies from 2011 and 2013 found that having a plant on your desk increases productivity and cognitive attention as well as filtering air to remove bacteria and mould, keeping employees healthy and reducing sick days. Perhaps the odd plant will increase the happiness rating of those who would much rather be tending their allotment than filing in spreadsheets too!


It is not often realistic to add natural light beyond that already available to many offices. But working with the existing natural light certainly is. This is one of the key drivers for our project designs at Stanway Interiors. By making sure that as many desks are in the window as skylight areas as possible, bouncing indirect light off ceilings and walls and using electric lighting to enhance the natural, we will always create open, light and bright spaces which it is proven increases productivity, energy, creativity and encourages dwell time for retail outlets.

Question the Open Plan

Although we have all been following ‘The Only Plan is Open Plan’ methodology for a long time now, taking a stroll through a room where 20 people work with their backs to each other is likely to involve at least 16 pairs of ear phones. Hardly anyone collaborates and talking is at a minimum, as the open space does not allow for small ideas to grow and develop. People feel they have to immediately solve company-changing issues to have the confidence to voice it.

Of course, open plan still has many, many positives but only when matched with private areas and meeting rooms that allow people to make a call or have a conversation without the whole office hearing.

Considering how to make the most of a productivity-fuelled office refurbishment? We can talk through all the options with you and progress a scheme that is unique to your building and considers the needs of its teams.

Stanway Interiors Limited