The psychology of a work environment isn’t new. In fact it has been studied for years and years. Everything from lighting and temperature to noise and paint color have been explored. Why though?
Because, as it turns out, all of these factors do play a role in effectiveness of a team as well as mood and energy toward perspective clients.
Large scale surveys reveal that, for many people, the quality of their work surroundings is an important consideration (Colbett and Furnham, 2013). For example in one survey of more than 1000 office workers in the US, approximately 40% rated physical working conditions as a very important factor in evaluating in their jobs (Harris, 1978, cited in Sandstorm and sandstorm 1986). This isn’t a surprise.
People do decide if you are a company they want to work with based on the environment of the office. How fresh is the paint indicates how often the office is maintained. If the paint is fresh it shows an attention to detail and care, which puts employees and clients at ease.
Growing evidence also suggests that environmental factors influence behavior at work.
It appears that even relatively modest variations in room temperature, lighting, air quality, noise, crowding, and a host of other environmental factors do indeed exert appreciable effects on task performance, work-related attitudes and interpersonal relations among employees (cf.Bell et al, 1990).
So as you can imagine if the space is vibrant, bright, busy, and loud it increases arousal and attention for a short time. Studies have shown that as arousal rises, task performance at first may increase due to awake/alertness of the employees, but then beyond some point, it falls. Thus, for a given task, performance is generally maximal at some intermediate level of arousal.
This relationship is known as the Yerkes-Dodson law, and has been confirmed for a wide range of tasks, and across a broad range of arousal/inspiration (Broadbent, 1971; Hebb, 1972; Colbett and Furnham, 2013).
Relating that to color theory…
We know that reds and blacks can heighten moods, making people more on edge and less receptive to constructive feedback. This can also make people more easily angry. We also know that oranges are warm and welcoming and that pinks and light blues are calming. Utilizing color theory and social psychology in your office space can have profound effects on team happiness, productivity, and sales.
Did you know that the color of a wall can actually change how a person perceives the temperature?
According to Sally Augustin Ph.D, warm colors such as orange, red and yellow can cause people to think the temperature in the room is warmer than it actually is. Whereas cooler colors, such as blue, green and light purple cause people to estimate the temperature is colder.
But it is important to keep the other color theory of each respective color in mind when selecting a paint. For example, research has linked green with broader thinking and more creative thought. “There seems to be a positive association between nature and regrowth,” notes Augustin (Forbes, 2014).
So if you want your employees to be more productive, consider painting work areas green, if you want your clients to feel warm and welcome consider an orange or pink.
This is a great time of year to accentuate your office space with warm colors and refresh the walls for the new year. These minor details make a huge difference in job performance and over all employee happiness through out the year.
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