Artwork in the workplace

Explore how artwork can become an important element of great workplace design.

Adding artwork to your workplace can have a tangible impact on employee well-being and help you to build your organisational culture. We believe that artwork is an important element of great workplace design – you can have the latest in sleek, modern office furniture, but an office space can feel bare and impersonal without the added extras such as appropriate artwork to reflect a company’s personality or the internal culture you’re trying to promote.

Office artwork has been shown to deepen organisational values, foster inclusivity and inspire a sense of place in employees. In our post-Covid world of hybrid work, encouraging people to come to the office, and to be part of the organisational culture has never been more important.

How does artwork in the workplace improve employee engagement?

  • Employee productivity

Productivity improves when employees are happy in their work. Working in an inspirational, creative workspace has been proven time and again to foster positive feelings among employees. No one can do their best work in a sterile, boring physical environment.

  • Cultural cohesion

Art can serve to visually express a company brand or company culture within a workplace. This can really help employees feel part of the company they’re working for, future employees can instantly get a sense of the values of a business and office visitors can immediately feel what is important to the company.

Art selections may be unconventional, to encourage innovative problem-solving. Office artwork might draw on a range of ethnic traditions to express their commitment to diversity and multiple cultures. Artists selected might be from underrepresented communities to convey inclusivity. Or you may simply choose local artworks to better support your local community of artists and artisans.

  • Returning to the office

If employees associate their office space as a hive of creativity, a place to discover and connect with like-minded colleagues, this will encourage onsite office days, and less pushback to work from home. Art in the office can absolutely be part of your ‘back-to-the-office’ toolkit to encourage your team to spend more time in the office. What’s more, they’ll likely enjoy their office time more.

How does office artwork support employee wellbeing?

Art has a unique ability to inspire joy and encourage connection. Employees have an opportunity to discuss their office art and debate their experience of viewing it. These observations have no right or wrong answers and encourage equality, no matter your role in the business.

Art has long been a feature in hospital environments, as it is well known for its uplifting and rehabilitative qualities. Studies have shown that art in the workplace improves mental health and overall well-being as it initiates an emotional response, unlike other aspects of the workplace 9-5 routine. So, why not introduce art to the workplace?

Office artwork can help reduce negative feelings such as stress or tension, and in fact, employees can restore their mental energy by engaging with art on a regular basis. Why wouldn’t all modern office environments try to create a more collaborative and enjoyable workspace for their teams?

As some of our senior team start their WELL Building Institute certification, we’ll be learning more about the work they do to ‘prioritise the health and safety of employees’. The WELL Building ethos applies to art in the workplace by choosing pieces that depict nature and natural spaces, and ensuring art is placed in the stairwells to make them more pleasant places to exercise during the workday.

How do you select the right artwork for your office space and your organisation?

We reached out to Hotel and Commercial Artwork Consultant, Shann Whitaker, director of Hay Hay Design. Hay Hay Design is a contemporary art company that consults and creates custom wall art and decor for Hotels, Restaurants, Private and Corporate residencies. 

Shann shared some insights on his experience curating Art for commercial and Hotel spaces. Here’s what he had to say…

“I usually find that workspace artwork is a combination of gallery bought art, framed images (relevant to the company) and some bespoke pieces created for a particular space. There is a lot of work to bring all those pieces together in a cohesive way that complements the interior vision.”

 It is interesting when you ask someone what their favourite music is, they usually have one or two genres or bands they can name. Ask someone about art and they invariably say, “oh I don’t know anything about art” and yet we all know what we like or don’t like when we look at it. I think artwork has a couple of main purposes in spaces like offices or hotels. It can be used as a WOW factor, really stand out, get people talking or seeking out the meaning. Most of the time artwork is chosen to accentuate or blend into the interiors creating a harmonious scene. The artwork may not catch your eye but it blends beautifully with the interior and helps accentuate it.

 Price should not be a limitation. There are so many affordable options. A poorly executed digital canvas print is the same price to manufacture as a beautifully designed and thought-out digital artwork. Same goes for some furniture.  There are fantastic local and affordable artists that are chomping at the bit to be given the chance to create beautiful original artwork for projects. You just need to know where to find them. That is where an art consultant like Hay Hay Design comes in. A one stop shop that can consult, design, recommend, create, frame and curate. We often do all of these things in one project with the start of the process being a discussion with either the interior designer or the owner/CEO/representative. To learn about what the company does, what the client and employees like before we offer suggestions. This is a very important step in the process.”

As a company, you’ll need to consider your artwork as part of your people and culture strategy. You may choose to commission a unique piece to express your company values, or you may prefer to collect pieces that convey certain values or concepts your company believes in.

Artwork can be selected according to the subject of the artwork, or perhaps you’re more interested in celebrating and promoting the stories of the artists behind your artwork. Different approaches will work for different organisations.

Thinking about the artwork subject matter, cohesive styles and colourways that gel with your brand look and feel. The background/ethnicity/location of an artist can all serve to promote the messages you want it to, to your team.

An interesting approach to meeting your business objectives could be to include your employees in your journey to valuing art in the workplace. Consider allowing your employees to select or vote for art pieces they want in their workspace or the position/location of the artwork. Engaging your employees in this way will encourage them to be more engaged in your workplace art and want to come into the office more often.

As they say, a picture can paint a thousand words. For a company to be able to visually express their values and culture can really help employees get on board with the company vision, and connect more deeply with it. That can only have better outcomes for office attendance, productivity and employee health and well-being. Co-designing your artwork strategy with your team can be a great way to ensure your team’s preferences and needs are met. And to ensure that your chosen pieces reflect your company values, your internal culture and the wider community you engage with.

No matter your budget, there are options for all businesses. From commissioning unique pieces to purchasing from local art shows or even hiring or leasing artwork.

Are you looking for expertise in artwork selection for your commercial space? Look no further – Europlan has you covered.

Have a chat with one of our Workplace Design Consultants about your vision.

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