Art allows us to explore and provoke new thoughts, ideas, and inspirations in the spaces we live and work.
Work spaces are often designed to limit distraction from work-related tasks. However, some research suggests that placing art in an office can boost employee productivity, lower stress, and increase wellbeing.
Research on Psychology of Office Spaces
Dr. Craig Knight has studied the psychology of working environments for over 12 years at the University of Exeter. In 2010, he and his co-author published a research study investigating the links between work space design and employee productivity. His research findings highlighted how diversity and some autonomy over the design of the office space directly contributed to greater employee happiness and motivation. People working in ‘enriched’ spaces decorated with plants and pictures were 17 percent more productive than those in ‘lean’ (i.e. bare and functional) spaces.
Employees also have an intrinsic sense that art work is important to their office space. In a 2003 survey of 800 employees across 32 different organizations, 82 percent of employees agreed that artwork was important to have in their work environment. Employees also felt their perceptions of the work experience would change if the art were removed.
This is an important consideration for offices which are trying to retain staff and incentivize working out of an office rather than working remotely. Some companies work with art consultants to strategically design their offices for this very goal (e.g. International Art Consultants).
Choosing and Placing Art in the Office
Choosing the right art for your work place can be based on your desired goals for both employees and clients.
For example, although a law firm may be a traditionally conservative office, clients and employees alike may still appreciate art works which are quirky, eclectic, or colourful. This was the case for JAGShaw Baker law firm in the City of London, where partners felt that it was important to have art works able to add energy and interest to their office space.
Placement of the art will differ based on the desired outcome.
Bright, contemporary pieces might be placed in waiting rooms to help start conversations. Textile works or sculptures with acoustic properties might be a good fit for minimising sound and echoes in long hallways.
More interactive art using lights and videos can offer a novel and engaging opportunity for employees to take a break from work stresses. For example, Cinimod Studio is an experiential design studio based in London which creates art works that react to passerby for an ever-changing, interactive experience.
For offices which are looking for approaches to boost employee energy and feelings of joy in the spaces where they spend so much time, art can act as catalyst. Try integrating art strategically into your office space, based on your goals and layout of the rooms!