The 1980s have a lot to answer for and we’re not just talking about shoulder pads and shell suits. While the fashion of the decade was big and bold, paradoxically office design was largely, well, beige. The 80s saw the rise of the dreaded cubicles and workplaces opted for linear and clinical designs in an attempt to encourage staff to get on with their work and avoid distraction.
Thankfully, we’ve since seen the light. In fact, this type of environment can actually have a negative impact on employee productivity. This is why even more businesses are investing in creative office design and exploring the role of art in the workplace. But it isn’t just productivity that can be boosted by carefully selected pieces of artwork. There are a whole host of other benefits…
Art for wellbeing
In recent years, art has been used more and more in hospitals and other medical settings due to its proven rehabilitative properties. The same principles apply in the workplace – art in the office has been proven to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing. And there’s science to back this up. We don’t want to get too technical but seeing a beautiful piece of art can trigger a release of dopamine into our brains and lower concentrations of cortisol. Dopamine is a chemical related to feelings of happiness and pleasure and cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone. This chemical reaction is particularly prevalent if the art uses natural materials or portrays plant life or nature in some way. This is unsurprising given the wide-ranging health and wellbeing benefits that come from reconnecting with nature.
Put simply, art makes for happier employees – and who doesn’t want that?
Art for workplace culture
Art can be a really useful tool for communicating your key brand messages in a non-verbal way. Go back to your brand values. What do you want people to think, feel and do when they come into your office? Choose artwork that reflects and enhances this. This is your opportunity for your company culture to take centre stage!
Untraditional company? Go for unusual art that shows that you like to do things a little bit differently. Family business? Photography depicting your family history could be just the trick. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s as unique as your business.
Art for employee ownership
Why not throw caution to the wind and let your employees choose and position their own art? This can help staff to feel more in control of their working environment which in turn has been linked to improved performance. Afterall, ownership creates pride in our environment and pride motivates. This sense of ownership can be particularly powerful with the rise of desk-sharing, especially if you have employees that are struggling to adjust to not having a desk to call their own. A small space in the office that we feel connected to can really help to improve wellbeing.
Asking staff to create the artwork itself takes this idea up a notch. Art classes or participatory murals, for example, can be a great team-building activity. Whether creating art is your thing or not, recent studies show that the impact of art in the workplace is most profound when staff have a role in it – so do consider how you can involve them in the process. Even if the paint brushes stay in the cupboard.
Art for wayfinding
Workplaces can often feel like a maze, particularly for visitors or new employees. Help people to find their way around by using art as a wayfinding device. Human brains are programmed to hold onto memorable environmental features. As a result, art can function as an office landmark which can be really helpful for navigation or when providing directions. Or you could take this a step further and create unique signage that doubles up as a piece of art. There’s no reason your signs can’t be beautiful as well as useful – or your art functional as well as creative!
Art in the community
Art can also be a fantastic way to build links with the community in which your office is based. This can be as simple as displaying artwork that depicts local landmarks, right through to commissioning local artists or community groups to make bespoke pieces for you.
Routing yourself in your local community makes good business sense as it connects you and your employees to potential customers and suppliers. Art can help to act as this bridge. It’s also a really nice way to practice corporate social responsibility by highlighting local culture and drawing a line between your workplace and its surroundings.
How to choose your art
So, with all that in mind, how do you choose the best artwork for your office? To get the desired impact you’ll need to think about a number of factors such as scale, colour and content.
Art can also come in unexpected forms – think beyond what’s on the wall and consider whether sculpture or light installations, for example, might be more suitable you’re your workplace. If you’re really not sure we’re to start, please do get in touch. As experts in office design, we can help make sure that your artwork reflects your company culture and delivers positive results for your business.