December 17, 2021
Sparse and sterile workspaces get a lot of good press these days. The common logic goes something like this: By minimizing distractions, offices are more likely to be hubs of productivity where employees are entirely focused on the tasks at hand.
I respectfully disagree. At Stamats and in the offices of so many of our clients, art is an essential part of the physical environment. Though the periods and styles may vary, art is a touchstone that adds dimension to the workday and connects people in powerful (and quite productive) ways.
When we talk about art in the workplace, it’s important to distinguish between original pieces by independent artists and the corporate “motivational art” that was so popular in the mid-1990s. We’ll cover the former here. The latter is best left to the annals of passé trends.
So, let’s begin. If you think artwork and hard work don’t mix, give me a few minutes to try to change your mind. Here are five benefits of art in the workplace:
Compelling artwork can communicate volumes in mere seconds. Its immediate visual impact can be used to reinforce an organization’s brand, reflect its values, and convey the energy and emotion behind its mission.
But beyond aesthetics, art in the workplace shows that management cares about the built environment and takes pride in what they do. In this way, art elevates both the employee and the client experience.
Art often serves as a crossroads or gathering place, helping team members transcend organizational hierarchies and departmental divisions. These art-filled communal spaces encourage chance encounters, conversation, and collaboration.
When Charles Schwab opened its new 50-acre Austin campus in 2018, employees that were scattered across the metro had a new home base. To help build community, the company commissioned a large-scale monofilament sculpture by Venezuelan artist Ender Martos.
Entitled Graceful Celestial Vernal Equinox II, Martos’ sculpture isn’t merely a focal point in the new space, it’s a memorable shared experience for Schwab’s 1200 regional employees.
Since so many of us spend the majority of our day at the office, it’s easy to understand how engaging art can enrich a space and in turn, energize our days.
An article in The Guardian explores how Deutsche Bank leverages its 60,000-piece art collection to inspire employees. According to Friedhelm Hütte, global head of art at Deutsche Bank, “Art offers a window into the social, political and economic aesthetics around the world and this makes it a good inspirational fit for our business because we live on developing new ideas for clients and reacting to what is happening in the world.”
In all its forms, art offers us a pause — that rare mental and emotional respite in a harried and over-scheduled day. And aren’t some of our best ideas are born out of pauses?
Painting, sculpture, fiber art, and kinetic pieces all challenge us to stop, to think in new ways, and approach challenges with an innovative spirit. Though we may not even register it consciously, creative spaces feed our individual creativity.
Of course, what we’re talking about here is the connection between environment and attitude. Organizations strive to create to offices that are safe, convenient, comfortable, and designed to bring out the very best in their people. Though the effects of art may seem intangible at times, they are no less fundamental to organizational success.
Think of art as an interactive backdrop. Every innovation, conversation, strategy, and success happens around it (and sometimes because of it). Choose art carefully, invite conversations about it, and discover what it can add to your workplace.