How To Boost Creativity And Productivity At Work Using Color Theory

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Mar. 22 2023, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Since the pandemic, people’s workplace priorities have shifted significantly. Company and office atmosphere is now more important than ever and the right design can change how well your business functions.

Using color theory is one of the simplest ways to optimize your workspace. The right pops of color here and there can boost creativity, productivity, energy or calmness. Adjusting your palette can make all the difference.

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Basic Principles of Color Theory

This quick color theory chart will let you hone in on a color or two that will enhance the feelings you’d like to create.

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Red is a bold color that can inspire feelings of energy. It can quicken your heart rate and increase your blood pressure. A room accented in this color may also improve your decision-making and boost your confidence.


Orange is a midway point between the effects of red and yellow. It makes you feel more confident and brave, but it also has the power to brighten your mood and encourage social cooperation.

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Yellow is a bright and cheery color, capable of boosting anyone’s mood. It also encourages creative energy and collaboration.


Green invokes memories of being in nature, reminiscent of the grass and trees. Most people feel very calm when in green-inspired surroundings.

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Blue is another natural color that invokes thoughts of cool water and bright sky. Like green, this option is also quite calming. However, it can also boost productivity, making it an excellent choice for any workspace.


Purple is a fun color and can bring on different moods depending on the saturation you choose. Overall, it’s energetic and can encourage creative thinking.

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All these colors may have you screaming for some neutrals. Most of the above colors work better when balanced with white, grey, cream or similar options. They provide a blank slate and an area of visual rest.

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How to Use Color Theory in Your Workspace

If you work from a home office, use one or two colors grounded with a coordinating neutral. You should use similar principles if you work from a small office or cubicle with no creative control over your other surroundings. In larger office settings, you can change up the color scheme for each room depending on its primary functions.

You can implement most of these ideas to enhance your productivity or mood in any workspace. Painting would be the main exception unless you have design control in your office or work from home. You should also check for any company rules about the decor at your desk. Some strict workplaces may restrict bright colors or certain accessories, like rugs.

1. Add a splash of paint.

Adding paint to one or more walls will give you the most significant impact for your budget. Go all out by painting the entire room in the color of your choice and accent with neutrals, or contain your vision to a single wall or two and choose bolder accessories.

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2. Pick fun accessories.

Accessories are the easiest decor item for office dwellers with limited creative control or those confined to a cubicle. Who says your stapler and hole punch must be dull black or silver? Add pops of blue, green or yellow to improve your mood and productivity while working.

3. Hang eye-catching art.

Art in energizing or natural colors will subtly shift your perception of the space while you work. Select paintings and sculptures wisely based on the basic color theory guide and the mood you want to create.

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4. Arrange colorful books.

If you have even a single shelf or a corner of desk space, you can take advantage of this fun decorative trick. Look for beautiful books in your inspiration color or color family and arrange them together as a functional work of art.

5. Pep up your furniture.

Ditch the boring black desk chair if you can and replace it with something a bit more eye-catching. Every time you look at it, the beautiful color will fill you with the feelings you’re trying to establish in your workspace. If you work out of a home office, you could even consider accent tables or a couch in your inspiration color.

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6. Bring in a rug.

A rug brings a textural element to any space, along with adding to the overall mood. Just be careful to balance colors if you’re adding multiple. If you’ve already painted the walls, colorful furniture and a rug may be too much.

7. Add a bit of nature.

Almost any workspace could benefit from a few plants. They improve your air quality and bring the sense of peace green colors can have on people. Those with a black thumb can at least benefit from the mood-boosting properties of green plants by purchasing a faux option.

Inspire Peace and Productivity With Color

Just a few simple swaps can alter the feel of an entire workspace. Try a pop of blue for productivity, an assortment of green plants for calm or a vibrant yellow accent for creativity. Your private home office, cubicle or workplace will never be the same once you use color theory.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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