Who took the colour out of UK plc?

The office space of UK plc with its beige, white and grey interior is making people inside feel lethargic and unproductive.

In fact, four out of ten adults in the UK feel the dull and bland confines of modern-day buildings exert a negative impact on their work.

Despite the complaints, it is estimated that 70 per cent of all offices in the UK opt for the traditional medley of beige, white or grey.

With almost half of top-tier decision makers saying a ‘paint job’ would not benefit productivity, workers are taking it upon themselves to inject a little colour.

Receptionists and temporary workers are the most colourful members in the office, followed closely by marketers, says the study by Canon, the imaging specialist.

To compensate for dark suits or formal attire, the majority of employees said they purposefully wear quirky accessories to brighten up their day-to-day appearance.

Around 30 per cent don a bright shirt, slightly fewer wear colourful jewellery and about a fifth quietly admit to wearing bright and even frilly undergarments.

“There is an element of fun in these results but also a very serious message,” said colour psychologist Andrea Mountford, reflecting on the study, obtained by tech site IT Resellers.

“With the average office worker spending 80 per cent of their work time in a building, it is crucial that they feel motivated and stimulated, which is not going to happen in a bland, colourless environment. Colour is crucial in all organisations and this applies to the surroundings as well as employees’ clothing.”

Among the genders, men emerged as suffering in silence; given the majority said they don traditional colours like black or dark blue only because of workplace expectations.

“For women, colour can be a real ace up their sleeve as they are much more aware of how it can be used to their advantage,” Ms Mountford said.

“Colour can completely transform a women’s appearance making them more noticeable, which in turn, sends positive statements about who they are and what they are capable of.”

David Smith, marketing director at Canon’s Business Solutions division, said: “We don’t live in a black and white world so why work in a dull office environment that breeds negativity and monotone madness?

“Whether it’s through the work we produce or the environment we work in, Canon believes that balanced colour deployment is essential to inspire both productivity and creativity.”

Elsewhere in the study, Liverpool emerged as the most popular location to wear sandals to work, jeans were the ultimate choice in Brighton, and Plymouth came top for hooded tops.

Contrary to popular belief, London is not the suit-wearing capital of the UK; it ranked sixth in the study, emerging as less formally dressed than its rivals, including Belfast, Southampton and Manchester.



 

31st August 2006

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