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Nearly 1 in 7 adults now use colouring books in the workplace

Adult colouring books – Credit: Kim Faires

Workers around the UK are swapping their keyboards for crayons, with almost one in seven (14%) using colouring books at work for productivity and relaxation, a new study has revealed.

A survey by global office supplier Staples has found we’re becoming a nation of colourists, with almost a third (29%) of UK adults owning an ‘adult colouring book’.

In 2015, adult colouring books like Johanna Basford’s “Secret Garden” rocketed in popularity, soaring to the top of Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists.

The research uncovered some of the reasons why this traditionally child-like activity could be becoming more popular in the workplace, with 85% of colourists believing that it enhances creativity, 91% responding that it lowers stress levels and 68% believing it boosts productivity.

When asked whether more businesses should embrace colouring at work, more than a quarter of participants (28%) agreed, while among active colourists the figure was much higher at just over half (51%).

The activity is most popular with people aged 35-44 and is most common in those working in manufacturing (51%), construction (44%) and the creative industries (44%).

Katie Matthews, along with her husband Geoff, is the author of travel-themed colouring book ‘Travel Between the Lines’. She believes the popularity of colouring stems from our reliance on modern technology.

“I think adults are beginning to realise that our addiction to technology has downsides, such as always being ‘on’ and diminishing attention spans,” says Matthews. “Many of my customers seem to be turning to colouring as a way to disconnect from their devices and enjoy the simple pleasure of stillness, quiet and creativity.

“Colouring is a pursuit that settles the mind and allows workers to unwind from the demands of their overly busy lives.”

To encourage creative breaks at work, Staples has created its own range of free-to-download colouring sheets for workers to use, each themed around a different aspect of the office.

Sharon Tan, Director, Head of Category Management for Staples Europe says: “While we knew people were colouring at home, we wanted to find out whether the office had become a place to break out the crayons – which it apparently has.

“With proponents of office colouring saying that it helps with creativity, productivity and lowered stress-levels, we wanted to create something that you can print out at work and have a quick five-minute colouring break.”