Works of art in the workplace can actually boost productivity, lower stress and increase wellbeing.
Evidence supported by the research of Dr Craig Knight, who has studied the psychology of working environments for 12 years at the University of Exeter, is that we need to fight the corporate tendency to opt for sanitised, lean workspaces and branch out to adding works of art to the office surroundings. According to Knight. “If you enrich a space people feel much happier and work better; a very good way of doing this is by using art.”
An example of this is Deutsche Bank. The German investment bank has the biggest collection of corporate art in the world, with some 60,000 artworks across 900 offices in 40 countries. Friedhelm Hütte, global head of art at Deutsche Bank says, “Art offers a window into the social, political and economic aesthetics around the world and this makes it a good inspirational fit for our business because we live on developing new ideas for clients and reacting to what is happening in the world.”
The bank likes to buy canvas prints from contemporary artists, with a focus on original drawings and photographs. “We like things which are innovative and spontaneous, which capture that moment when an idea first becomes visible,” explains Hütte.
Knight and his team have conducted studies into the most effective work environments by asking participants to do an hour’s work in four different types of office space:
- Lean: containing only the things necessary to do the tasks.
- Enriched: featuring art and plants which were already arranged.
- Empowered: the same art and plants but participants could choose where to put them.
- Disempowered: participants could arrange the art and plants themselves – but the experimenter then undid these personal touches and reverted to the enriched layout.
The team found that people who worked in the enriched office worked about 15% quicker than those in the lean office and had fewer health complaints – this figure then doubled for people who worked in the empowered space. As for those who’d seen their personal touches undermined; their productivity levels were the same as those in the lean space.
Art is a way of retaining staff and encouraging them to be in the office, at a time when people increasingly want to work remotely; it offers momentary distraction which is definitely not a bad thing in the workplace. Art has historically always been about escape, and we all need is an escape sometimes.
The factors that Art can influence in the workplace are many. Some of these are
1. Create a good atmosphere
Inviting your staff to be comfortable as well as productive in the workplace
2. Show your staff you value them
Investing in art shows your team that you value them as people rather than ‘human resources’, and that you’re keen to improve your employee’s lives in a wholesome way.
3. Impress your clients
Since our first impressions are formed within just 7 seconds, it’s crucial to make a positive impact when your customers enter your space. Exhibiting art really helps make a lasting impression.
4. Improve communication
Art invites self-expression and communication, actively encouraging people to share their opinions and listen to those of others.
5. Reflect your identity
Our choice of art tells the world about what we represent; office decor speaks volumes about a company’s values and identity. Fresh flowers on the front desk or coloured chairs in meeting rooms are great first steps, but exhibiting art lets you truly project your own style.
6. Encourage creative thinking
Art can inspire creative thinking and give everyone confidence that new ideas will be well received.