Home office colour theory: how colours affect your productivity

Is your home office colour scheme stopping you from excelling at work? Studies suggest the colours around you can affect how you feel and behave - even if you're not consciously aware of it. In this blog post we explore the psychology of colour theory to identify some of the best colours for your home office.

Green walls and pink chair

Usually when we offer advice on this blog, it's about choosing the best ergonomic equipment to help keep you comfortable and injury-free. But workplace ergonomics isn't just about the equipment you use. It's also about making sure the environment as a whole is optimised for your health. Working in a room that's too hot, cold, bright, or dark can affect your mental and physical health.

But what about the colour scheme? Could something as simple as the colour of your home office walls really drain your productivity and prevent you from knuckling down to work for the day? According to Fsome studies - yes.

What does the science say about colour theory?

One report reviewed 40 published studies on the affect of colour on workplace wellbeing and productivity, and concluded that:

"Colour in the work environment plays a significant role in people's perception and behaviour, especially mood, wellbeing and performance. The use of colour in the workplace can enhance positive mood, contribute to a sense of wellbeing and lead to a positive outcome." - Asian Journal of Behavioural Studies

Some key findings:

  • Good workplace colour combinations increase comfort and work capacity (Lebedkova et al., 2012).
  • A colourful workplace tended to enhance performance more than a workplace with a dull scheme (Öztürk et al., 2012).
  • People made more errors in a white environment (Kwallek & Lewis, 1990; Kwallek et al., 1996).
  • Staff respond most positively to green, which they associated with relaxation and happiness (Kaya et al., 2004).

While colour clearly seems to impact how we feel, behave and perform at work, there are contradictory findings. For example, in some studies cooler shades like blue and grey increased creativity, while in others these same colours reduced it. The report's authors reasoned that different jobs require different environments. Employees in an architect firm may have different needs to those in a call centre, for example.

How you respond to colour depends on your culture, personality, experiences and the nature of the tasks you carry out as part of your job - so the best colours for your home office will be the ones that evoke the state of mind you need to undertake your specific role.

Best colours for home office productivity

While our psychological connection to colour appears to be subjective, there are patterns that show up time and again. Some colour associations might be instinctive, passed down through evolution as a survival mechanism. Red is the colour of blood. Some animals flush red when angry, or aroused. Typically, yellow and black indicates that a plant or creature could be venomous. Green is the colour of healthy, verdant life; blue is the colour of the sea and sky - vast, mysterious places that we associate with abstract concepts such as spirituality and dreams.

Colour is used as a secondary language in signage, cinema, art and advertising. By playing with the associations we have with colour, images and scenes can communicate hidden messages. The same applies to the rooms we spend time in. So how do we manipulate our home office colour schemes to get the best out of our work hours?

Blue home office

Blue is one of the most popular colours for offices. It's perceived as a calming, intellectual colour that soothes the mind, encourages clear thinking and reduces stress. It's well-suited to tasks that require a great deal of focus. Being on the cool end of the colour spectrum, blue can sometimes come across as clinical and impersonal.

Consider mixing up your shades, or pairing warmer grey walls with blue accents, such as our light blue Homeworker Plus Royal Blue Office Chair, which is stylish as well as highly ergonomic.

Green home office

Working long hours? Green may be the colour for you. The colour of plant life, green de-stresses, soothes and restores. It's also easier on the eyes - a great choice if you're spending a long time using a computer (although you should try to limit your screen time and look into the distance for 20 seconds every 20 minutes). Kit your home office out with plenty of green accessories, lush indoor foliage and add the RH Logic 220 High Back Forest Green Office Chair for a modern but studious touch.

Pink home office

Fancy something a little unconventional? Pink is rarely used in typical offices, so it's not seen as a corporate colour. This can work in your favour - especially if your job requires you to be creative. In colour theory, pink stands for good health and success (hence the term 'everything's rosy). It is a calming, nurturing colour that will put any visitors at ease. Paired with emerald green, dusky pink can look stylish and modern without coming across as too youthful.

Spice up your home office with pink accessories like the RH Logic 220 High Back Salmon Pink Office Chair, and the Penclic Mini Keyboard KB3 Bluetooth in rosy-hued gold.

Red home office

Red is a primal colour. In studies it's been shown to raise blood and boost blood flow, so if you have a job that requires quick fire ideas and energy, red could be the best colour for your home office.

Red is powerful and bold, so if you have clients visiting your office and want to show that you're in control and capable, adding a few red accents could help send the right subliminal messages. Add the Homeworker Plus Red Office Chair to you workstation set-up for a vibrant pop that'll not only keep you stimulated with its bold red fabric, but help you achieve a healthy, comfortable posture for a more productive work day.

Final home office colour tips

  • Mix and match complimentary colours
  • Choose subtle, muted shades of a colour instead of overwhelming your senses with the brightest hues
  • Keep neutral walls with colourful furniture and décor
  • Choose the colours that you like the most
  • Don't be afraid to do something different: your home office doesn't have to look like a traditional office - it's your place to express yourself
  • Always do test patches first before you commit

You can find more colourful ergonomic chairs for your home office here.