Importance of Art in the Workplace

Imagine your ideal workplace- a place that you enjoy spending time in and that motivates and inspires you. What are some characteristics that make this space optimal? Studies have shown that three of the most important elements in workplaces are plants, lounge areas and art. Though it may not be in the forefront for your mind, art has a huge impact on public spaces, especially the workplace- even affecting the wellbeing of employees. A number of studies have been done on the effect art has in the workplace causing many corporations to create initiatives based around collecting and displaying artwork. This post will take a look at just how artwork can impact and improve a workplace by boosting productivity, creativity and morale amongst your employees.
Practical and Psychological Benefits
‘Carnaval III’ created for Detroit-based International Business
Art can inspire, relieve stress and create a dynamic space – all characteristics that make a good workplace. You want your employees to enjoy the space they are working in, not to be stressed out or bored. Displaying various types of art throughout the workplace can have a huge impact on the mood of employees, performance and health as well as boosting productivity and creativity. Art can also help to enhance relationships between employees as well as between employees and clients. The psychological benefits of working in spaces that display art have been proven time and time again. Some great articles covering this topic are Art in The Workplace: Why You Need It and How to Choose It and Does a pretty office make a productive workforce, which references many specific studies. Other resources are listed at the end of this post.
A unique and inspiring workplace with art and interesting design elements can also help keep top performing employees at their job. The physical aspects of a workplace can greatly affect the wellbeing of your employees and artwork can help to keep them engaged. This article from New Day Office gives various ideas on how to improve employee retention through art and design. Forbes suggests, "treat[ing] physical space like software" by periodically altering parts of the environment to keep employees interested in their surroundings and to add some spontaneity. Overall, a creative workplace with great aesthetics can help to reduce employee turnover while elevating productivity.
‘S3 Delta’ created for Strategic Staffing Solutions
Furthermore, placing art strategically throughout a space can offer more practical benefits as well. Artwork adds visual interest to a space and can help break up the monotony of an office. It can add a pop of color, introduce a new design element or tell a story, making it thought provoking. Artwork is also memorable and stands out, making it a good landmark when navigating through a space or when giving directions. It can also bolster conversation amongst employees and with your clients. Tell your employees about the art you’re displaying – Who is the artist? When and where was it created? How was it obtained? What is the concept? – so it can be used in conversation with visitors. Get your team involved and invested in the artworks so they aren’t wondering why you chose new art over giving them a raise or a new computer.
‘Evergreen’ designed for Strategic Staffing Solutions
The artwork you choose display can also provide important connotations about your brand, message and culture. Having work from artists around the world, in the style of other cultures, or showcasing various locations around the world can show that you are a global company and interested in and appreciative of other cultures and international relationships. Showcasing local artists or art centered around the city you are located in can show that you have a close personal relationship with the community and your location. These are important ideas to consider when picking out your art. Be cognisant of the message the art you’re displaying sends to the people.

‘Ross Symbols’ created for Ross Controls
According to WorkDesign Magazine, "In general, employees show the most attention to detail, process and manage information best, and show the highest levels of organizational citizenship when their workplaces both display art and have allowed input into its selection and placement."
With this in mind, you may consider allowing your employees to chose their own art to display and how to display it. This gives them a sense of agency and control and shows that you have trust in them and can even make them up to 32% more productive. Furthermore, you could have your team work on a group mural. Allowing employees to participate in the creation of artwork can help with team-building and give them a sense of pride in the piece they helped to create.
Beyond artwork, it can be useful to consider color in the workplace. Like art, color is a powerful tool that can increase productivity, physical health and a positive mood. There are many things to consider when selecting color and how to make it benefit your employees. Factors such as lighting, shades, hues, textures, patterns, and environmental features can all affect how color is perceived in a space. Great consideration should be taken when selecting a color palette and working with designers can help you to choose colors that will provide psychological and practical benefits while reflecting your brand. To get more insight into how color can affect a space, take a look at this informative article by WorkDesign Magazine.
Is All Art Equally Beneficial?

‘Backbone’ created for Detroit Regional Chamber
Is it enough to simply throw art on the walls and expect improvements in your workplace? It’s a bit more complicated than that and it’s important to take into account the types of art that will have the most impact and benefits. Studies have shown that people respond best to "pleasing and interesting" visuals rather than complicated and confusing pieces of art. Picking something representational or figurative over something abstract can be a good choice. People like to feel as though they have a connection and understanding of the art they are looking at but also want there to be some complexity. Art that is too simple, therefore visually boring, or too complex and difficult can have an adverse affect on mood rather than boosting it. More specifically, nature scenes, especially those with green foliage or bodies of water, are shown to have a positive effect on mood.
Corporate Gifts & Awards
Examples of Corporate Gifts & Awards
Another great way to share art with your employees is though corporate gifts and awards. These can be great, unique incentives for your employees that leave them with a one-of-a-kind commemoration of their achievements and acknowledgment of what they’ve contributed to your company. They can be customized to reflect the values central to your company mission and given out to highlight occasions and accomplishments such as top sales performers, best supporting vendors or employee anniversaries. This is also a great way to build relationships with and support local artists that take commissions like this. We will be doing an extended blog post covering this topic in the near future.

‘Red Prana’ created for Seyburn Knox Law Group
The visuals in a workplace have a huge impact on the perception of the company and the attitude and behavior of its employees, clients and visitors. It may seem overwhelming, so consulting with artists and designers can give you some informed insight into how art can be utilized in beneficial ways to bolster your image, boost energy and increase productivity. There are many studies on this topic, and some resources have been included below. We hope this gave you some ideas on just how important art is in different environments and inspires you to find more ways to incorporate it into your work space!
Resources
A Google search for "Importance of Art in the Workplace" returns many resources

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