The Impact Of Art In The Workplace
Contributor Forbes Magazine
The impact of art in the workplace is often underestimated. Splashes of color in a painting can alter the mood of a meeting room or a piece of unusual artwork can provide a talking point in a bland corporate space. But can artwork have a direct impact on employee productivity or well-being? It seems the answer is yes. Research by Exeter University’s School of Psychology found that employees who have control over the design and layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier -- they’re also up to 32% more productive. The research involved more than 2,000 office workers in a series of studies looking at attitudes to and productivity within working space. But it was two further studies, one at Exeter University and another in commercial offices which saw participants take on a series of tasks in a workspace that was either lean (bare and functional), enriched (decorated with plants and pictures), empowered (allowing the individual to design the area) or disempowered (where the individual's design was redesigned by a "manager"). This study found that people working in enriched spaces (decorated with art or plants) were 17% more productive than those in lean spaces.
The notion that art in the workplace is merely decorative was dispelled in a survey of more than 800 employees working for 32 companies throughout the U.S. that have workplace art collections. The survey, a collaboration of the Business Committee for the Arts and the International Association for Professional Art Advisors drew responses from firms ranging from food distributors to law firms that house workplace collections. It found that art in the workplace helps businesses address key challenges such as reducing stress (78% agree), increasing creativity (64% agreed) and encouraging expression of opinions (77% agreed).
A smaller study at Cass Business School explored the perceptions of employees towards art in the workplace and its effect on themselves, the clients or company image. Both male (64%) and female (73%) respondents agreed that the design of their workplace has an effect on their working day. Interestingly, male respondents not only rated art (39%) as one of the most important elements of interior design of the workplace compared to other elements such as plants (39%) or a lounge area (35%), but they also give art a higher importance as an interior design element compared to female respondents. Only 17% of women named art as a crucial component of interior design.
However, the impact of art on the individual employee regarding work ethic/motivation, creativity, stress-level and general well-being seems to be greater on women than on men. While 80% of the male respondents agreed that art has a minor effect on their work ethic/motivation; all of the female respondents agreed that it has some effect on them. Specifically, 54% of women acknowledged that art has a moderate to big effect on their creativity at the office (47% of men) and 80% of the women agreed that art at the office could reduce their stress-levels (66% of the men). Furthermore, 92% of the women stated that art affects their general well-being, compared to 71% of the men.
Rise Art supplies art to many firms in the City of London. One of those firms is law firm JAGShaw Baker who chose quirky, eclectic pieces of art which are unusual for a sector known for its conservatism. “When it came to fitting out the office, I wanted something that was fun, open and didn’t look like a conservative law firm,” explains partner, Tina Baker at the law firm. “We wanted to pick artwork that was really fun. Our clients really appreciate the art we have in our conference rooms. In the meeting room, we have maps from New York, San Francisco and Berlin by Ursula Hitz.” Baker believes that art is very important to any environment, whether it’s home, office or public space--you feel very different in a space that is blank as opposed to being in a place that has a lot of art or color. We used the artwork to add splashes of color.”
Contributor Forbes Magazine
The Value Of Art In The Workplace
Expert InsightsMarch 6, 2015
by Jeffrey Sklaver
Art is a critical component — on par with light, air, ergonomics, and quiet spaces — in the ongoing conversation about methods for making employees feel better about their environment and more productive at work. Jeffrey Sklaver, a principal at ArtMatters, explores why more designers don’t specify more art, and shares four reasons why it’s time to start.
Artwork in the lobby of a major office building near the Capitol at 440 First Street in Washington, D.C. The developer was First Potomac Realty Trust. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Sklaver.Why don’t more designers specify art? It isn’t that they don’t appreciate art — indeed, I believe that they do: many designers come to the profession from a visual arts background. The problem is that art is viewed by many businesses as a nicety and not a necessity. The design community needs to educate its clients as to the importance of including art in the scope of work for the reasons described below. They also need to make their clients aware that even if they may not be considering purchasing art before moving into their new or renovated space, by at least planning for it in the design stage, they can avoid costly retrofits later, especially for any lighting or bracing that might be required.
Here are four reasons designers should specify more art, more often:
It enlivens open, glass-enclosed offices
These kites grace the lobby of office building in Upper Marlboro, Md. The designers couldn’t hang anything on the wood walls, so they took to the ceiling. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Sklaver.In the case of large, open, collaborative areas, art is being used to break up and define a space. The chosen works are typically larger pieces to better hold the larger walls. In these areas, designers are incorporating feature walls for art. Designers are also using more kinetic sculpture to take advantage of high ceilings and murals for large expansive areas. The larger open spaces also allow for use of more art glass and innovative light installations. Textile art is also being used to soften the feel of a space and as a sound-buffering agent.
Art is also being used as a focal point for lunch and lounge areas and other third spaces where people congregate for ad hoc collaboration and flexible working.
Additionally, with the decrease in the number of individual offices has come the growth in the number of meeting rooms, huddle areas, and quiet rooms where people needing privacy can get away. These rooms also require art.
The type and style of art being selected and how it is being displayed is also evolving. Traditional landscapes are giving way to contemporary abstracts to better complement contemporary workplace design. There is also a growing use of photography — especially black and white photography and photographic abstracts — because of their contemporary feel.
It makes a statement about company culture
This image of the Capitol building at the Financial Services Roundtable in Washington, D.C. is made up entirely of people. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Sklaver.An office’s design only goes so far in identifying how a company wants to be perceived by its employees and clients; art increases the visual cues. A law firm that does a lot of international business might want to have art that reflects that scope. A lobbying organization in Washington might want dynamic photos of the Capitol, the White House, or iconic images of the monuments to remind its clients of their proximity to the seat of power. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities use art (primarily nature and landscape images) to provide a calming and peaceful distraction from an inherently stressful environment.
In developing its art package, WisdomTree Investments, Inc., a large New York-based financial services firm, selected an impressive series of large, frameless, sepia-toned original photographs of New York for its main corridor leading to its boardroom overlooking midtown Manhattan. The quality and integrity of the photos selected speak to the quality and integrity of the firm, while the New York images provide a backdrop for its location in the heart of world’s financial marketplace.
It’s also an effective branding tool: the right art can support a company’s corporate identity, history, values, and mission, and create a sense of place and purpose.
It contributes to a healthier work environment
This metal sculpture piece was done for Airbus Group’s office in Herndon, Va. The artist used honeycomb aluminum, which is the same material they use for their aircrafts. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Sklaver.Properly executed, art energizes and personalizes a workspace. It reflects an attitude, sets a tone, and — more importantly — ties together all the design elements. It is also a critical component — on par with light, air, ergonomics, and quiet spaces — in the ongoing conversation about methods for making employees feel better about their environment and be more productive at work.
While furnishing and lighting are effective ways for meeting the physical needs of the employees, art meets their emotional needs. In a survey conducted by the Business Committee for the Arts and the International Association of Professional Art Advisors of more then 800 employees of 32 companies that displayed art in the workplace, 94 percent of respondents agreed that art enhanced the work environment; 78 percent said that it contributed to reduced stress; 64 percent saw increased creativity and productivity; and 67 percent said that it enhanced morale. As a result, art should be part of any discussion regarding health and wellness initiatives in the office.
It’s a creative way to help with wayfinding
A conference room at Financial Services Roundtable. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Sklaver.Art is a great wayfinding tool, where colors and images can be used to visually reference an area or location. The Financial Services Roundtable named its conference rooms after U.S. presidents in its new D.C. offices. In addition to signage, it commissioned a graphic design artist to createlarge colorful, contemporary, representative pieces of each president that are prominently display in each conference room, bringing color and character to the space.
At the end of the day, it is incumbent upon the design community to begin discussing art with their clients at the outset of the design process rather then leave it as an afterthought and a potential missed opportunity.