As the nature of the way we work evolves, the influence on office space design is becoming more modular and flexible, with more social space and colour.
A research paper by Kalyan N. Meola, with the University of Hawaii at Hilo, states that visual elements including colour, can have an influence on employee behaviour.
Colour can make you feel like you are in a better-designed environment. It can change the perception of space as well as create an ambience. Interior colour design or ‘visual ergonomics’, has become an important consideration to the manufacturing workrooms and company offices, as to the corporate boardroom. Appropriate use of colour can not only maximise productivity levels, but it can also stimulate collaboration, creativity and cooperation.
Pioneering this revolution of work-space design is Google who are currently researching the effect of colour on their employees. Early findings in to which colours make employees and departments more productive indicate “a clear link between colour and satisfaction within a person’s work area, which in turn can boost employee creativity and productivity.”
Whilst the Google brightly coloured ‘Crayola’ approach to colour in the workplace may not appeal to all company CEOs, Google have recognised that a work environment needs to be stimulating and support employees in a way that in turn encourages positive performance.
David Radcliffe, vice president of Google’s Real Estate & Workplace Services whose job it is to create the perfect working environment, has been overseeing the research in to the impact of colour. Radcliffe said of the trial of purple,“We actually get a negative response out of this colour so you probably won’t see it popping up in other parts of the company. … I don’t know what it is but it doesn’t work in the work environment.”
Determining the function of a workspace and deciding how you want your clients and staff to feel in their environment, or what you’d like to encourage them to do, is key to developing the best colour scheme. In the case of the colour purple, its effect can be a little inhibiting, perhaps causing one to feel a little introspective or even introverted.
So exactly how does colour affect the environment and which colours are the best to use?
In general, strong, contrasting colours can be visually exciting and stimulating, whilst softer, muted tones can promote a calmer atmosphere. Certain shades of the right colours have the ability to increase productivity, communication and stimulate ideas.
For example, red is a colour that essentially activates, so it’s a useful colour to use in areas where a lot of energy is required.
Lighter blue tones can be mentally soothing, whereas stronger blues are more mentally stimulating, so can be suitable for admin/office areas to encourage better thought processes and efficiency.
Yellow inspires self-confidence, optimism and friendliness and so can be an ideal colour to think about using in ‘welcome’ areas and dining rooms etc. and green is a colour that can be reassuring and restful.
Brighter green colours are more refreshing and so can be great colours for rest room areas, kitchens etc.
In general, different palettes of colour lend themselves better to certain ‘styles’ of environment. E.g. a modern/contemporary facility or business may suit being decorated in clean, clear, brighter colours. A period property or more traditional business will lend itself to be decorated in either more muted intense shades, or lighter, softer muted tones.
As well as being mindful of corporate and branding colours – design and colour trends influence choice too.
Sustainability and economic consciousness have been a key theme for office interiors over the last few years, reflected in the creation of a more natural-looking environment with simple, down-to-earth colour schemes and more latterly, the introduction of some intense neon-like colour.
Future interior and furnishing trends indicate that bold colours will still feature but more saturated and intense. More fluorescent ‘acid tints’ will feature too. Both these colour palettes will work well mixed in with the third colour trend towards a simple and sophisticated palette of grey, stone, charcoal and black.
Inky-blue will also be a very strong colour trend. Highlight it with a flash of something crisp and fresh such as lime-yellow – another key colour trend – which will lift it in to something more modern and forward-thinking.