The benefits of art in the workplace are varied and beautiful. Increased creativity. Increased productivity. Increased engagement. But slapping any old landscape onto the wall isn’t the answer. What do you want to say with your choices? And what do your choices say about you, your company and your staff?
Yes, the presence of art in a workplace has a positive influence on the atmosphere. Milica Jovic, author of Art Owned by Businesses: The Changing Role of Corporate Art Collections, surveyed employees on this topic and found that 80% self-reported that the works of art had improved their sense of wellbeing. This is great news and, in my opinion, is one of the most valuable reasons for art in the workplace, as Jovic says “to inspire and delight its workers”. However, to get the most from implementing art in an office or working environment, it is important to consider more than just this first step.
In 2003’s Art in the Workplace Survey, like in Jovic’s research, around 80% of employees questioned asserted that art is important in the work environment. Building on this, author Joyce Roughly also found that 73% reported that their view of the company would change if the art were removed. This indicates 2 things; firstly, that the art is representative of the company and secondly, that the employees are aware of this.
Let’s focus on the former for now – The art is representative of the company. Corporate art can be a subtle (or not so subtle) way of showing what a business is, what its values are, its goals and what the business thinks of itself. For example, a floral painting could denote a business that values gentleness, creativity, a natural approach. Urban photography in an office might be suggesting a corporation that strives for acquisition of wealth, perhaps technical in nature and focussed on real-world applications. The presence of unusual sculpture in a workspace may be indicative of a confident and off-the-wall enterprise. When investing in corporate art, it is invaluable to consider what can be read from the pieces, and how to use this advantageously. By keeping a business identity in mind when choosing artwork, it becomes easier to find artists or styles that mirror this. This enables the art to feel like an extension of the company, part of it, rather than an after-thought as a vague attempt to feel interesting.
On to the latter point – Employees are aware that the present art represents the company, and by extension, clients are aware of this too. Anyone that enters a corporate space that contains artwork, even if subconsciously, will have an understanding that the choice of art is saying something about the business. This is huge, not only can art in a workplace show what a company is about but the same art can showcase desirable aspects of the enterprise for the audience. For instance, by exhibiting portraits in a workplace, a potential client could be left with the impression that this business values people, which could be one of the client’s own values. By utilising colours, choosing artwork that shares the same palette as the brand or logo could be beneficial in driving home the idea of a strong brand identity. By opting for pieces that resonate calmness, like watercolours, this may instil the same calmness into a stressed workforce who as a result may then feel acknowledged by their employers.
There’s lots to think about when it comes to choosing workplace art, but making a choice is the thing to remember. Being active and discerning with this choice, whilst keeping your business identity in mind, will not only have a positive impact on your staff but can also showcase the best parts of your business. A classic landscape might brighten up a wall but is it the perfect artwork for your enterprise?