Art at work: Not just a pretty place

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The impact of art in the workplace is often underestimated. We look at Companies using art to create a good impression, inspire employees, increase productivity and reduce stress. It’s time to get serious about creativity in the workplace.

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Art at work: Not just a pretty place

First impressions do not only apply to dating: the first look at the working environment a company offers its staff has an immediate impression on visitors and potential recruits and speaks volumes about the company culture.

It’s not just about appealing to new talent, either. Hard-working HR teams are desperately searching for novel ways to hold on to existing employees – and to keep them inspired and engaged. Surprisingly, one such solution may be found in the imaginative world of art.

It turns out there are a tonne of reasons why companies might want to utilise the power of artistic expression. With this in mind, a bland, featureless workplace is surely fated to become the dodo of the office market.

The art – and science -of human potential

Picasso tells us that “the purpose of art is brushing the dust of daily life off our souls”. Though he was not a leading HR expert, it is argued that the inspiration felt when looking at art will unlock creative potential, helping to generate innovative ideas and enhance productivity. It can also be used to create an escape from the daily grind, encouraging contemplation and stillness, which reduces stress and enhances wellbeing.

These effects might sound too good to be true – but the evidence comes from leading academics. Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that employees work 15% more efficiently in an ‘enriched’ office – one decorated with art and plants. Productivity and well-being increased even further, by around 30%, when employees were allowed to decorate the office themselves.

The art visionaries

Large tech companies, battling to attract top talent, were arguably the first to seize on the opportunity art represents. Facebook commissioned graffiti artist David Choe to decorate its very first office with murals. A decade on, the company now hosts a formal artist-in-residence programme: A diverse group of independent artists set up inside the company, using the physical spaces – doors, walls –ceilings and so on –  as their ‘canvas’. Spotify, Nokia, Deutsche Bank and countless others have since gone down a similar path, injecting their offices with artistic features that range from murals to secret galleries.

Closer to home

At JLL we’re seeing more and more clients injecting creativity and culture into their workplace, including landlords who are looking for new ways to make their space stand out and appeal to these wealthy high-growth tech firms. One such example is the developer of the new 22 Bishopsgate tower in London, which plans to house an art programme in its foyer, and create an indoor “art street” for the public.

The positive effects of art on employee creativity, productivity and wellbeing can’t be ignored. Coupled with the branding opportunities it presents, artwork and other inspiring surroundings are poised to become core features of workplaces of the future.

Article written by Beth Ambrose, a Director in JLL’s Upstream Sustainability Services team and edited by Laura Jockers.

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