20 Sep 2018

By Rhiannon Flood 

Millennials expect more from their workplaces than previous generations and are expected to make up almost 50% of the UK workforce by 2020. Business owners cannot afford to ignore their views and preferences. With office design fast becoming a significant priority for start-ups and established companies alike, the feel of a workplace, and what it says about the employer, needs to be considered by all bosses worth their salt. “Break out zones” (where workers can brainstorm and meet in a less formal environment) are cited as one of the main features appreciated by today’s office-worker, proving that enabling staff to work creatively and flexibly is vital in the modern workplace. Investing in the improvement of your work environment shows respect and consideration for employees and boosts moral as a consequence. However, if you understandably prefer not to start investing in bean bags and ping pong tables, you can make a start by merely adding an original artwork to your office decor in order to create a more inspiring environment for employees. For those who’ve never thought about buying art for their business, read on for eight key reasons why artworks should be a feature of every modern workplace.

1) Increased Productivity- Can boost productivity, as proven by the Knight and Haslan study which reported a 17% increase in productivity in the “enriched” office design over the “lean,” Spartan version. Read more about the research in a previous blog post here).
2) Enhanced well being – Views of nature have been proven to aid the healing process of patients recovering from surgery. Equally, in non-medical settings, splashes of colour can lift the spirits of employees, and an unusual artwork can serve as a talking point, thereby opening up dialogue and fostering a sense of community in the workplace.
3) Character – Original artworks will add personality to your workplace, so that staff and clients can get an insight into the ethos of the company. The addition of contemporary art makes the workplace an appealing place to be, thus attracting new staff while helping to retain existing workers.
4) Adaptability-With the vastly diverse styles and media used in contemporary art, any space – however big or small – can be enhanced. From an impressive sculpture to fill an open, uninspiring foyer to atmospheric photographs to line bland corridors.
5) Positive distraction- We all experience mental fatigue at certain points throughout the day, particularly during times of stress and tight deadlines. Studies show that taking a brief moment to look away from the computer screen and contemplate an uplifting artwork, displayed nearby, can be energizing and help with refocusing.
6) Inspiring and stimulating- especially for creative work. Additionally, a bold, captivating artwork can make a previously soulless waiting area into a welcoming zone for clients to enjoy.
7) Philanthropic – Buying art for your business offers a way to support living artists and to create links with the wider world, demonstrating a global outlook (as artworks can be quickly and simply sourced through the many online art marketplaces representing the international art community).
8) No Excuse – Having never previously purchased an artwork before is no longer a barrier to buying original, contemporary art as it has become so accessible and affordable. With so much choice, there is something to suit all tastes and requirements. With search filters, you can set your budget and preferred medium, style, and even subject matter, so you don’t need to have any specialist knowledge of art or any previous experience of collecting.

Recent studies have identified office design as being far more important to productivity, staff well-being, and job satisfaction than previously thought. Environmental elements such as natural light levels, touches of nature (can be as simple as the additional one or two pot plants), stimulating and inspiring decor, and the presence of exciting and thought-provoking artworks, all contribute to a reported increase in staff satisfaction levels. Studies show that, beyond simply a thoughtfully-designed (enriched) workplace, employees benefit most from being included in the design process and being allowed to rearrange aspects of the design. Why not come up with a shortlist of artworks for your team to vote on? Or hold a brainstorming session about how to improve the space using art, so that everyone can have a say in where paintings could be hung or sculptures placed?

(RCA: Workplace & Well-being Developing a practical framework for workplace design to affect employee well-being A research study).