Blog: Colour in the workplace

Colour specification has the potential to positively contribute to the building environment, especially within the workplace. Lisa Pilley, Commercial Colour Consultant at Dulux Trade reviews the support and tools that are now available to best utilise colour in order to create the right impression and promote well-being, as well as ensuring compliance.

 When designing a work environment it is important to consider whether the space is comfortable, promotes productivity and reflects the purpose of the business. The use of colour can notably help, or indeed hinder, all of these elements and those specifying the final colour palette should be aware of the support that is available in order to make an informed decision.

A recurring trend within workplace design in 2017 has been to enhance a reception or entrance area with a pop of bold colour. These areas are what first introduce the company to visitors and that initial impression is crucial. This does not always mean that bright is best, but it should be a strong, decisive colour choice and ideally imitate the identity of the business.

However once inside the main working space, it is important not to overwhelm staff with corporate colour throughout. The focus should be on creating a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing working environment with additional dedicated break out areas, which can be decorated in contrast in order to separate them further from the office area.

The majority of leading manufacturers can provide guidance on this through expert colour consultants, on hand to support the specification process and answer any questions that may arise. However, for those looking to create interior schemes themselves, whether it’s a simple concept board or a detailed colour and product specification, there is also a range of practical and easy to use online tools available.

Many of these tools are now easily accessible in an app format, allowing specifiers to download them to personal, mobile devices and review and amend colour palette options from wherever they are.

The guidelines set out in the Equality Act Approved Document to part M (ADM) require any colour scheme to clearly distinguish between walls, floors, door frames and ceilings to support accessibility. Using colour and contrast effectively can enhance spatial awareness and individual navigation, particularly for those with visual impairments; aiding in the identification of key building features and ultimately contributing to safety.

Simple colour statements introduced to floor, walls, furniture or even a combination of them all can create zones and help segment a larger open space into more specific user areas, each with their own purpose. For large office developments a colour palette of key neutrals as a base scheme will provide an element of continuity whilst helping keep maintenance requirements to a minimum.

Paint specified will need to withstand a high level of wear and tear due to the consistent activity within a working environment. It is necessary to consider Whole Life Costing (WLC) when specifying paint for an office based project. Knowledge of a building’s costs over its full life span is important in managing both the capital costs of construction, and the related on going costs of operation.

This is particularly true of commercial buildings where the durability of the paint is crucial to extend maintenance cycles. New formulations that actively repel stains are available and offer an increased level of durability. This innovative alternative will ensure fewer retouches are required throughout the life of the building and therefore make economic sense in the longer term.

When deciding on a paint scheme for an office or workplace, specifiers need to balance the corporate needs of the business with the comfort needs of the workers inhabiting the space on a regular basis. The colour palette must reflect the company’s core values, without jeopardising the wellbeing of those using the facilities, as well as ensuring that regulatory requirements are met. Leading paint manufacturers are increasing the support available to specifiers, sharing a wealth of industry expertise, but it is important to first know that these resources are available.