Colour isn’t what immediately comes to mind when you think of ways to encourage creativity and productivity in the workplace. But why shouldn’t it be? Colour has long been associated with emotions. Colour psychology, for example, is leveraged in marketing to sell products and make brands stand out.

When G.F Smith and long term design partners Made Thought were deciding on a new shade of paper for G.F Smith’s iconic Colorplan range, they decided to ask the simple question; “What is your favourite colour?” and in turn discovered the world’s favourite colour. It also got a lot more—in the form of stacks of data from the 30,000 responses it received. In the process of finding out why people chose a particular colour, the company also found out the words that people associated them with.

From there, Made Thought built colour profiles. Colours that represented seasons and the natural environment. Ones that invoked luxury, design, or sustainability. Colours for emotions.

Gif of colours of emotion

It’s not just Made Thought that found this correlation—a study at the 2004 Athens Olympics found that those who wore red were more likely to win. In the office, previous studies have found green can inspire innovation, and blue helps people channel their creativity.

Gif of the colours of summer

The winning colour, by the way, was called Marrs Green.

A 2019 study from Oxford Economics and Ricoh suggests that revamping the office could unlock £36.8 billion in untapped GDP for the United Kingdom economy.

The office environment directly impacts business value through inspiring employees to be creative and productive. Plus, creativity is an important thing to uncover in your business. According to the the World Economic Forum by 2020 creativity will be one of the most important skills in the workforce.

Creativity allows you to innovate faster, solve problems in a new way, and make ideas a reality.

However, it’s not just about splashing some blue paint around. To truly inspire your employees, you need to create an office that has the right technology too.

Make it beautiful

Our research found that 73 percent of those surveyed considered themselves creative. But they felt like their workplaces stifled innovation, with work environment and culture at blame. Build a welcoming, fluid environment that allows for different ways of working. If you want to encourage innovation, for example, build spaces that match the stages of the creative process.

Graphic showing the colours of creativity

89 percent of employees said the office environment makes the biggest improvement to productivity in the workplace.

In addition to colour, considerations for the office ecosystem include creating spaces designed for collaborative or individual work. 23 percent of employees surveyed in our research said that a work environment with a mix of diverse spaces foster collaboration, socialisation, and focussed work that boosts creativity.


Graphic showing colours of optimism

For example, Surface Hubs in collaboration rooms inspire easy collaboration in-person or online. Soundproof spaces give people privacy for sensitive meetings or a space to work without distraction.

An office that encourages different ways of working will make your employees more productive, and more satisfied.

Graphic showing colours of optimism

Make it tech friendly

78 percent of UK employees believe technology helps them be more creative.

Just as your offices need to be fit for different ways of working, so do your devices. The right technology empowers seamless collaboration both in your new office space and outside of it. Surface devices do just this, allowing everyone to surface their creative potential in their own way.

In our research, up-to-date modern devices that allows employees to better collaborate with colleagues and capture their thoughts were among the top ten things that allowed them to be more creative at work.

By having devices that are designed work in different environments and in different ways supports more creative ways of working.

Graphic showing colours of the future

By giving employees beautiful workplaces that inspire them to be more creative and innovative, you will benefit from a workforce that’s motivated and excited to come to the office. Complement this with the right technology to enhance their creative flow, and you have a recipe for success.

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