The Psychology of Color in the Workplace

Read more about the psychology of color in the workplace and find out how color schemes can have an impact on company culture.

Remember in The Office when Michael, convinced he’d be promoted, names Dwight as his replacement—and Dwight paints the walls of his office black to, as he says, “intimidate my subordinates”?

How does your workplace’s color scheme impact its culture? “Companies should keep in mind that all colors influence us physiologically as well as psychologically, and that each color conveys its own unique message and meaning,” says Laurie Pressman, VP of the Pantone Color Institute. “Color sets the mood.”

In addition, a shade’s intensity, not only the color itself, will affect your response to it. Here are the emotions each color scheme tends to evoke.


Passion and energy. Too much, though, can read as aggressive and cause anxiety.


Happiness and friendliness. But it’s best as an accent because people either love it or hate it.


Cheerfulness. It stimulates focus and helps workers prepare for activity.


Nature. Because it creates feelings of calm and serenity, it’s a good color to keep the office peace. 


High energy (bright shades); serenity (light shades). Use these to spark creativity or soothe frazzled nerves.


Coziness (deep shades); pleasantness (light shades). These are good for quiet workspaces.


Clean, simple modernity (creamy shades). Avoid pure white, which is sterile and can cause headaches.


Stability and honesty. But tan-only color schemes are too bland. 

Photos by Anyaberkut, Peshkov, KF4851, Ismagilov, Scovad, Pozitivo/Getty Images