Stephanie Dwilson

Designing an Office: Choosing Colors That Fit the Company Culture

Designing an office can be fun — making decisions about fabrics and paint colors is a wonderful way to keep your office fresh and release a bit of creativity at the same time.

But, exciting as being the master of the paint swatch may be, it’s important not to let your creative expression get the best of you. After all, your design choices should be a reflection of your company’s goals and culture.

Here’s a look at how color choice in your office can impact your workplace’s mood and culture.

Color’s Effect on Your Employees

Color can have a surprising effect on people’s mood and productivity. Decide what feeling you want your office to evoke.

  • Purple. Violet and purple encourage contemplation.

  • Blue. Blues reflect a calm, clear-thinking mindset. These shades promote stability and help you feel more relaxed.

  • Green. Green is considered to be a balance of invigorating and restful. It’s easy on the eyes and may improve efficiency and reduce anxiety.

  • Yellow. These light shades evoke intelligence and energy. If overused or too bright, though, yellow (and even red) might make you feel tired and strained.

  • Orange. Orange spurs creativity. It’s great for a casual environment, and for kitchens in particular due to its association with food.

  • Red. This color is more active. It might suit a more competitive culture or areas where you’d like to promote stimulating conversation.

  • Pink. Pink is lively, fun and casual — but can overwhelm some people.

In general, warm colors like reds, yellows and oranges are cozy and radiate energy. They can also make a room feel more intimate. Cool colors like purples and blues are calming and make a room feel larger. Darker colors suggest wisdom and maturity, which may be why universities tend to prefer them.

Keep in mind that too much of any one color can be, well, too much. Focus on creating a neutral “canvas” for your main office color, and then highlight the space with accents that instill the feelings and moods you prefer. If you’re designing in a large office space, you might want to vary the accent throughout. One corner could be more relaxing, for instance, while another part of the workplace could foster creativity and focus.

Of course, color is just one part of your office design that can affect productivity. You also want to consider the rest of the environment — lighting, music, ambient noise. Natural light and greenery can increase productivity by as much as 15%. Add some plants and greenery to your office, and open those blinds if you have windows. Low-volume music or ambient noise can also boost productivity, along with good air quality and a cooler (but not cold) temperature.

Color Choice and Company Culture

Ultimately, your office should reflect the business itself. For instance, if your business is affiliated with children, maybe skip the white leather couch, no matter how nice it looks.

Perhaps the colors of the company’s logo can be incorporated in decorative accents. Or one wall in the office can be painted the color of the logo, while the rest of the walls are neutral. The wall with the logo color can be the location where you meet with visitors or have brainstorming sessions.

Also consider how functional design can complement employees’ typical use of the space. If your company focuses on creativity, maybe you can hang a giant whiteboard on one wall. If your business offers counseling or legal services, place calming blues in spaces where you’ll meet with clients. If your business centers on the environment, you may want to use green or yellow accents coupled with plenty of plants and natural light. If you’re designing a hospital or health-focused space, then use white as the main neutral color to project sterility and cleanliness.

Every office space is a blank canvas waiting to embody the business it’s home to. When you’re designing an office, the right color palette can be the icing on the cake that pulls your entire space together.

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