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

Office supplier Staples found that nearly a third (29%) of adults in the UK have followed the ‘adult colouring book’ trend by purchasing their own. The hobby kicked off last year, with adult colouring books like Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden shooting to the top of the Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists.

But Staples research found that the activity, normally associated with children, is becoming more and more popular in the workplace. The retailer found that 85% believe it enhances creativity, an overwhelming 91% claiming it reduces stress, and more than two thirds (68%) saying it makes them more productive.

And it looks like workers want to do more colouring at work. More than a quarter (28%) of all workers said more businesses should embrace the activity, with 51% of active colourists wanting their employers to do more with it.

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

Image: Jenn Gaylor
Image: Jenn Gaylor

Kate Matthews, with her husband Geoff, is the author of travel-themed colouring book Travel Between the Lines. She said the rise in adult colouring books stems from our reliance on modern tech.

“I think adults are beginning to realise that our addiction to technology has downsides, such as always being ‘on’ and diminishing attention spans. 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.”

Following the research, Staples created its own range of free-to-download colouring sheets for workers to use, each themed around a different aspect of office life.

Staples colouring

Sharon Tan, director and head of category management for Staples Europe, said: “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.”

So, business owners, entrepreneurs, managers – get your team colouring!