More and more companies are expressing their unique character through the use of office artwork. This doesn’t mean they’re choosing a mass reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” And thankfully, we’ve seen the end of the corny motivational posters that once adorned conference rooms across the country. Instead, a thoughtful, deliberate approach of using artwork to reinforce company culture and shape the office working environment is paying dividends in increased employee productivity.
Balancing Focus & Collaboration
Open floor plans have become the new normal in office design, with 70% of companies choosing these layouts over the classic bullpen styles, but this shift has pros and cons. On one hand, the open floor plan liberates employees from their mundane enclosures and encourages a “we’re all in this together” attitude – but it comes at a cost. Where quiet once prevailed and focus was encouraged within cubicle walls, the open office often allows for too much collaboration, creating a chaotic and distracting environment.
“When focus is compromised in pursuit of collaboration, neither works well.”
This is a key finding by Gensler, a leading global design consultancy, in its U.S. Workplace Survey. Gensler emphasizes the importance of differentiating spaces intended for focus, from those intended for collaboration.
Successfully creating these different spaces goes beyond just layout and furniture. Our environments are as much mental as they are physical, and therefore mood and culture must also be considered when shaping the spaces where we work. The deliberate use of artwork can be particularly effective at achieving these goals.
For example, a common lounge area could be outfitted with colorful, more modern art that inspires creativity; making an ideal space for collaborative brainstorming. On the other hand, art that is muted and meditative would help to facilitate focus among employees working on tasks that require intense concentration. Separating these two environments and infusing them with artwork that reflects their intended use can meaningfully increase employee productivity.
Building Culture and a Sense of Team
The move towards open office layouts has been part of a strategy to increase collaboration and build stronger company cultures. How can office artwork help achieve these same goals? By involving employees in a collaborative process to select the artwork that surrounds them.
Artwork selection can be a great team and culture building exercise and there are many ways to do it. Some companies choose to turn the process into a social event where food and drinks accompany a review of the different art options. In other cases, companies have used online voting tools with real-time results and group message boards for a fun, online approach.
Further, including employees in this process ensures that the artwork within a given workplace is the perfect match for the team. As a result, employees feel more invested in their space and will enjoy their time spent in the office.
Regardless of how the process is handled, the benefits are clear in terms of employees’ sense of involvement - Gensler found that employees involved in decision-making processes like this view their company as being more innovative and have shown greater individual job performance.
Your Space Matters, Choose Wisely
No matter how much we might wish otherwise, our environment affects us and our teams; a deliberate, detailed approach to the design of your space will help your employees and company succeed.
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