Can Art in Your Office Make You Work Better (Art in the Work Space)

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Which workplace would you rather work from: a white, industrial, linoleum-covered room, sitting at a desk empty except for a computer, or….. in a beautifully decorated, colorful room, adorned with paintings of lush, verdant landscapes, relaxing at your personally decorated desk? Not much of a question, I bet. 

Your preference for a comfortable and visually pleasing environment is logical: people perform better when surrounded by art.

How can art in the work space make you work better?

Art does more than beautify a space. It inspires, it motivates, it makes one proud of their job and the work they do.

Art in the work space, even basic motivational posters, boosts productivity by instilling a sense of pride in the workforce. Any company willing to invest in their work environment is perceived by employees as investing in them, bringing a sense of unity to the team.

A well-thought-out art installation can also tell a company’s story and even play into marketing strategies.

 

Unlock the secret to employee appreciation and pride

In college, I worked at a local fast-food restaurant, and I hated it.

It was smelly, dirty, and bare. Anytime I saw garbage in the parking lot, my first thought was: “Not my problem. That’s not what I get paid for.” I didn’t work there long. I didn’t care much about the place, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t care much about me.

Soon I got a job working at the University, and there it was a completely different environment. It was beautiful! There were statues and artwork posted on every corner and corridor; the hallways and rooms were clean and neat. I genuinely felt good about working there.

I wanted for whatever work space I occupied to mirror this sense of belonging; I want to be proud of it!

Using the inspiration generated by the art filled uni I was willing to put in a little more work to keep my corner of the shared office looking its best, and even found myself getting annoyed at others that *unintentionally* messed it up.

My point is, in an age where you can do most work remotely, it’s essential to show your employees that you appreciate them and keep them engaged, and investing in art or decoration is one way to do this.

Studies show that letting employees decorate their work space affords a feeling of control and community company ownership. A company giving its employees a choice in art shows it cares and trusts them to make positive decisions for the company.

A nicely decorated office conveys that the “higher-ups” care about the work environment for everyone else. Their offices are decorated nicely and taken care of – but what does it say if the rest of the building is left bare, dull, and dirty?

 

Inspire and unite

Art inspires conversations between employees and can spread a feeling of unity and shared interests. In break rooms or “water-cooler areas,” it would be a focal point and spark conversations between employees that would otherwise never happen. Displayed artwork could create opportunities for new ideas and collaborations, launching your business into areas previously inaccessible.

Distant cultures are brought to your boardroom using nothing more than a framed painting. Cultures and traditions that would never even cross some of your employees’ minds can be brought to the forefront and inspire new concepts and designs every day.

 

Art: a simple, cost-effective stress reliever

Corporate art isn’t just a design choice; it’s an office-wide stress-reliever. Offices quickly become stressful, many of us know this, there’s even a show about it [The Office joke inserted here]. I don’t remember seeing much artwork around Stanley’s desk. Maybe that’s part of the reason for all the grumpiness.

Displaying art is a simple way to ease tensions, reduce stress, and restore mental energy: all of which increase efficiency. Works of art, especially landscapes and other images of the natural world have been linked to lower anger levels in the workplace, and are known to boost brain performance and efficiency too.

The company benefits, too!

Art addresses brand and company culture. Whether you want your business to have a bold, modern atmosphere or more of a soft, subtle vibe, it’s easily attainable with just a few select pieces of art.

Companies with unusual art portray themselves as trendy and unconventional in their methods. Suppose you want your clients to know you are not afraid to be innovative and depart from the traditional? Art is a great way to convey that message in a way that isn’t overpowering or conspicuous. 

Art can send a clear but subtle message regarding what the company stands for (or against). Many companies use art to show their support for current movements and demonstrate their values to their customer and client base.

Issues of common concern and collective identity unite the workforce and the company, and the client base. A shared cause can bring even the strangest of bedfellows together.

By using local artists to tell its history, businesses can develop an identity and tie their brand to the local culture and community. Companies that embrace local culture and community connect their businesses to society and help support and promote local artists (you can use this link for marketing as well).

Art doesn’t have to be expensive. Many artists want to get their name out and will let you rent their pieces for cheap or even free. Consultancies that specialize in determining which art is best for your work space will rent out the artwork and even change it out every so often to keep the ambiance fresh. Renting or buying art through consultancies benefits both local artists and companies.

Some businesses go a step further and incorporate art shows in their buildings. Deutsche Bank, for instance, has interactive apps that give visitors information on the displayed art. They also have an employee working that you can talk to about the art (called an “Artothek”) and host talks by the artists themselves.

That’s a brilliant idea, but I suggest starting small, with just a few landscapes in the office hallways. Perhaps a couple of Monet prints.

And one last point that isn’t as important, but worth mentioning: art can function as a landmark! Giving directions to newbies navigating the office for the first time can be much easier, trust me. “Take a left at the Warhol. If you’ve hit the Picasso, you’ve gone too far.”

 

What type of art to use

We aren’t talking about the “Hang in There Kitty” or a motivational poster showing a golfer hitting a hole-in-one. People like to understand art, but they also want to look at something with a certain visual complexity, something that will give the viewer plenty to look at without being overwhelmed.

Elements of the mind that we don’t typically use are sparked to life and encouraged by works of art that require scrutiny or interpretation. Art that is figurative, pleasing, and representative is more easily processed and subsequently preferred over that which is challenging or abstract (so maybe not the Picasso).

Horizontal and vertical lines (versus diagonal) and curved lines (versus straight) are also processed easier and therefore recommended over other challenging works.

 

The bottom line?

Art can add to your bottom line, even if you are work from a home office.

Any increase in productivity, no matter how small, is a plus. A single, slight increase from one employee in one department every day for the rest of the year adds up to a lot. In the end, that makes art profitable for everyone.

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