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Injecting Color Into The Office: The Art of Color Psychology

By Shay Hughes

In a previous article, I discussed our commitment to making our offices places of joy, inclusivity, comfort and inspiration for all of our team members, and offered a few ideas that could be implemented at any company. These elements included incorporating family photographs, encouraging quotes, outdoor settings and, most of all, the broad use of color. This last idea incorporating color into the office—is not just something we like to do just because it’s fun. It’s backed by science—studied on college campuses, and by scientists, and marketing and business experts around the world.

Color plays a large, yet subliminal role on human behavior—inside our homes, our workspaces and in all aspects of the outside world. With teams back in the office, it’s important for companies to understand and harness the impactful psychology of color within the workplace. By revisiting this powerful concept, businesses can successfully create stimulating environments for their teams to thrive and collaborate in together.

Ingrid Fetell Lee is the founder of The Aesthetics of Joy—a resource for finding more joy in life and work backed by scientific research—and a constant source of inspiration to me. She’s a recognized “color expert,” and in a recent article, “Does Wearing Colored Clothes Change Our Feelings?,” Ingrid cited several studies that reveal the positive effects of color on the human psyche, from what we wear, to what we see others wear, to what colors we surround ourselves with.

Here are a few great examples Ingrid shares:

  1. Wearing Red

Studies have shown that seeing the color red can increase heart rate, which correlates to alertness.

  1. Lighten Up

One consistent finding from color psychology is that light colors are more associated with happiness and excitement, while dark colors bring up negative emotions like sadness and anger. So, to boost the mood, choose a lighter or brighter color!

  1. Team Spirit

Color can build harmony and unity. Think about it: You wear your favorite sport team’s colors to feel like a fan. Graduates wear the same color cap and gown. So, the next time you organize a team-building exercise, encourage everyone to wear a hat, scarf or shirt in the same bright color.

  1. Surround Yourself

Studies have shown that people working in more colorful environments feel increased alertness and joy than people working in more colorless, desolate surroundings.

  1. Color & Create

Think wearing bright colors in the office is not serious enough? Think again! Color can help break down barriers and promote more creativity.

injecting color donut wall art

After all, few things can bring a smile to your face faster than a picture of a giant donut—with sprinkles!

At Hughes Marino, we’ve truly taken the happiness-inducing science of color to heart, and have created work environments that use color in a variety of ways that help energize our team members whenever they are in the office. The beauty of this is that these ideas can be implemented with any team, in any business, in any industry. The following examples are not complicated or costly. Plus, they can be incorporated into your office a little at a time, giving you the opportunity to see how much color fits your comfort level!

  1. Artful Color

All of our offices feature artwork that is colorful, playful and fun. After all, few things can bring a smile to your face faster than a picture of a giant donut—with sprinkles! The art on display ranges from professional artists and photographers, to framed prints from Etsy, Minted and Amazon. As long as the pieces that are paired together have a similar theme or color scheme, the options are endless to adding personality, positivity and color to your office walls!

  1. Comfortable Color

When it comes to office furnishings, we’ve left gray and black behind for comfy couches in emerald green, royal blue and pink. They make us feel happy right when we walk in the door! For offices that are feeling a little on the sterile side, I suggest walking around the space to make a quick assessment—is there any opportunity for a fun pop of color to be added? Maybe a rug, a lamp or an accent chair? If so, this might be a great way to implement color, no matter if your budget is large or small.

  1. Wearable Color

We’ve created an extensive line of Hughes Marino “gear”—hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts and more. Our gear is colorful and features phrases that reflect our core values and other phrases that exude positivity. Team members are welcome to wear our HM gear at the office, especially during our all-team meetings, normally paired with their favorite fun sneakers. Does your company have any team gear? If not, it might be a fun, lighthearted item to invest in. As Ingrid noted, wearing the same color can increase trust and connectivity within a group, like wearing the colors to support the home team! If you aren’t sure about creating company tees, another fun idea could be to designate a specific color (or your company colors) for your team to wear on Fridays. You can up the ante by hosting a gift card raffle for participants!

injecting color pink floral copy room

  1. Environmental Color

As discussed in my first article, there are so many ways you can bring color into the office beyond furniture. Fresh or faux flowers, colorful books, brightly colored prints, colorful wall murals and whimsical trinkets are just a few fun ideas and ways we like to decorate our spaces. A quick trip to a local farmers market or grocery store for a few bouquets can brighten up the office week in a snap. A fun collection of bright coffee table books strategically placed through the workplace can add fun and color at unexpected turns. Once again, the options are limitless!

  1. Empowering Color

Even after you’ve brought color into the workplace, there’s no better way for your team to enjoy their surroundings than to empower them to create an environment at their desk that brings them happiness. As the end of each year approaches, we encourage our team to take stock of their desk and immediate surroundings, purge things they don’t need any more and create a microenvironment that brings them happiness. Whether it’s photos of family, friends or pets, to bringing in fun prints, quotes and books that inspire, we encourage our team to surround themselves with a joyful, personal atmosphere.

Even if you don’t adopt all the ideas above, by applying a few aspects of the psychology of color, you will witness the difference it can make in your team’s attitude about being back in the office. Science says so, as does years of colorful experimentation in our own Hughes Marino locations. My guess is that even just a few pops of color throughout your office environment will bring your organization a brighter future—in more ways than one.

Shay Hughes is president & COO of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices across the nation. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-662-6635 or shay.hughes@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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