What’s an easy way to motivate a work force? Employers are finding that a new coat of paint on the office walls can do the trick. 

That’s the word from Mark Woodman, a color expert who works with companies on which colors to use in commercial office spaces. He says until recently, most office colors were dictated by budget. The thinking was that it’s cheaper to just paint the walls white, because then you can use any old office furniture, instead of trying to find desks and chairs that match an Atomic Tangerine color-scheme, for example.

But today, lots of new research shows that the color of our workspace can have a dramatic effect on our mood and productivity. For example: A proven way to lower stress in customer complaint call-centers is to paint the walls soothing shades or green, or blue, and if the goal is to keep workers feeling energized, experts recommend choosing invigorating colors, like yellow and orange.

Nancy Kwallek directs an interior design program at the University of Texas. She says the most popular workplace paint color today is Canvas Tan, which is neutral enough to coordinate well with most office flooring and furniture.

Another popular color is Brandy, which is a pinkish-brown that can make any space feel warmer. Plus, research shows that light blue shades generally make small offices feel bigger, while golden tones can make large spaces feel more intimate.

The thinking is, with people working longer hours these days, the office needs to be a home-away-from-home. So, employers should make offices less sterile, and more inviting, and an easy way to do that is with color!