These Two Colors Make Office Workers More Alert and Productive

Offices are increasingly being designed with collaboration in mind, as the lines between corporate meetings, private work sessions, and coffee dates with clients blur. While furniture and layout are often discussed, experts say there is a new frontier of workplace design they are just now tapping into: color.

Color — specifically, colored lighting — can affect productivity, according to an extensive body of research by Mariana Figueiro, a professor at the Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private research university in Troy, N.Y.

Measuring “biomarkers” including brain activity, performance type and reaction times, as well as alertness and self-reported sleepiness, they found saturated blue colors are ideal for increasing alertness, especially for those who work a night shift. Light is denoted in nanometers, which measures its wavelength range and saturation of color. The blue they used, a 460 nanometer, affected the circadian system by simulating light from a daytime sky.

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