Whatever you do, don’t leave the walls white. That’s what researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found when they performed a study to see how colour affects workplace productivity.
Three groups were given a series of clerical tasks to complete (typing, filing, answering phones) in three different rooms: one red, one white and one aqua. Responses to the colours differed depending on how good participants were at filtering out things around them that were unrelated to the task at hand. Low screeners (those who had trouble ignoring irrelevant stimuli) were less productive in the red office than the aqua one, while high screeners showed the opposite response.
All participants made more errors in the white room. That’s bad news for most businesses, since as study author Dr. Nancy Kwallek writes, “the quintessential office colour is white.” And startups following the new rules of workspace decor may not be exempt either, since the current fashion for whiteboard wall exposes their workers to the same light hue.
So what colour should you paint your office walls to get more done, or at least to prevent the shade from impeding your work? If filtering out unrelated details comes naturally to you, go with a warm, energetic, aggressive tone—it could actually have a stimulating effect, and make you more productive. But if you’re easily distracted, stick to a calmer, cooler shade. It’s also important to take into account the kind of work you do—a UBC study found that red enhances performance on detail-oriented tasks, while blue stimulates creativity.
But whatever you do, avoid a yellow colour scheme. Many colour experts believe people are most likely to lose their temper in a yellow room. Anger is not a colour that looks good on anyone.
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What colour are your office walls? Have you noticed any effects on your productivity? Let us know using the comments section below.