Shades of meaning in the office décor

The Telegraph, UK

You can paint your workplace red and stay in the black. Catherine Quinn looks at the effect of a change of hue on staff productivity

Look around you. If you work in an office, what you are likely to see is great swathes of off-white or cream walls. They can be uninspiring, to say the least. Staff may long for a splash of colour to lift the mood, but corporations tend to opt for décor that is cheap and easy to keep clean.

But the neutral whitewash favoured in offices is being challenged by bolder shades and brighter tones. Companies are discovering that colour can have a genuine impact on the mood and efficiency of their staff.

One company who knows this first-hand is design agency Aquent. They conducted a six week trial painting their offices a different colour every week as part of a psychological experiment on how different hues could impact on staff mood and motivation.

Starting with a vibrant red in week one, the interiors were covered in wall to ceiling. Week two brought out blue, through to yellow, grey, green, and finally black. At the end of each week, staff filled out a questionnaire designed to test their reactions to the new colour, and the data was then correlated by business psychology consultancy Pearn Kandola. “The results were actually quite surprising, and very complex” says Binna Kandola of Pearn Kandola.

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