Why Art Benefits Office Culture

29 Apr 2019

"Office culture" is a phrase that catches the mood of the current zeitgeist. There's a lot of talk and advice for companies that want to improve and/or promote their office culture, but what exactly does it mean, and how do you do that?


You might be surprised to hear that office culture doesn't just begin and end with tech start ups and companies run by hipsters.  Every company has it's own culture and depending on your industry it will be different from Office to Office, and art will enrich your environment, inspire your people and empower your brand.



Enrich Your Workspace

When you hear the words office culture you might naturally jump to thoughts of Google with its giant office slide in London or Facebook with its pool tables, but those images aren't a natural reflection of a lot of offices out there. Chances are, you work in a concrete and glass building in a city, with open plan offices that have banks of desks, white walls and a carpet which is mostly grey. So how do you create an office culture in that type of space?

Add art. Put art on your walls and you'll see, and more importantly, feel an instant effect. When I curated a selection of 14 artworks for Mobeus Equity Partners, staff openly told me they didn't realise what effect it was going to have, and how they felt so energised with it in place. Mobeus and I saw first hand how enriching your workspace creates an atmosphere that is less strained, less rigid and more relaxed. I also like to make sure the art chosen is curated to tie in with your corporate image, to add a narrative of creativity, contemporary tastes and culture because it's so important to make a good first impression to your clients.

However with poor mental health now widespread at work and more and more people being trained in mental health first aid, it's clear that our working environment is an important tool, which has to be used effectively to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. If it's important to your company culture that these matters are addressed, then you could do something simple like add a pop of colour with a painted wall or funky rug. There are lots of articles like this one by Coalesse which highlight the importance of colour in offices, and how it can affect our wellbeing at work.


Inspire Your People

By adding art to your walls, you're giving your staff permission to be more creative. This article by Inc.com details how Progressive Insurance uses its art collection effectively to boost creativity and productivity amongst its staff. Astoundingly art can boost productivity by up to 42% and this article by the Journal of Business Research (April 2018) highlights that staff who looked at a painting before setting to a task were better at creative problem solving than those who weren't.

Progressive happens to have a world-class art collection to access (which not every company has), but that doesn't mean you can't do the same; instead of buying art, rent it from a corporate art company. The added benefit to renting is that you can change it as frequently as you like, and this boosts creative thinking and energy amongst staff even more. One of my favourite clients, Thoughtworks, changed the artwork in their office every three months so the staff were constantly inspired by fresh visuals

Empower Your Brand

Company culture goes hand in hand with company brand values, each heavily influencing the other, and it's here that art provides another key benefit to promote both. Art is an amazing tool at extending the brand narrative, and it's just as important that the branding is seen and understood by staff as well as clients. For example, pharmaceutical client Tusk Therapeutics, wanted to appear very contemporary, but also hint at the biomolecular work that they undertook, so we suggested bright and colour abstract artworks by an emerging artist, which had small intricate patterns and designs. It wasn't an in-your-face needle or petri dish image, but a more subtle way of reinforcing who they were as a company.

Like other corporate art experts, I always tell my clients art is a very important tool to communicate a company’s brand, values, personality and culture. When art is on your walls it can't be ignored. It greets your clients with a big "Hello! This is who we are" at the door. It gives your staff the mental headspace to take a break from work, creatively problem solve, feel comfortable and be productive. Art is a tonic, and it doesn't have to be the blue chip masterpieces that you see in a museum. Art can be a painting bought at a flea market or a photograph taken by a staff member. But ultimately what it has to be, is a reflection of who you are as a company.

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