The Right Frame of Mind: Art in the Workplace

Art in the workplace

Employee feedback corroborates neuroscientific evidence for the positive effects of art in the workplace. Its impact on daily employee morale and enduring company identity make art instrumental to company productivity, community, and more.

Recent research has shed light on how effectively embracing art in the workplace presents many advantages for companies. An Exeter University School of Psychology study investigated the work space’s ability to influence attitudes and productivity, concluding that people working in decorated environments were 17% more productive than those in bare spaces. Similarly, a survey administered by the Business Committee for the Arts and the International Association for Professional Art Advisors found that art in the office reduces stress, increases creativity, and encourages expression of opinions for a majority of employees.

What is it about art that generates these outcomes that are beneficial to the worker and in turn their employer? Neuroscientist Christopher Tyler says, “art accesses some of the most advanced processes of human intuitive analysis and expressivity,” unlocking those more nuanced, complex mental-emotional pathways. FMRIs verify that, consciously or not, viewing a piece of art activates the parts of the brain that process emotion, calculate risk, navigate social rules, and perceive pleasure and reward. In many ways, engaging with art incites individuals to a heightened mental state that is more receptive to both their own creative potential and to the ideas of those around them. 

The positives art poses of course extend beyond employee attitude and output. This research affirms art’s power to transform the perception and use of a space, and the mood it inspires in viewers — a power worth considering for one’s clients, customers, and visitors as well. As much as artwork can form an invaluable immediate impression, it can help establish a lasting legacy. Harnessing art’s ability to provoke productivity and leave a long-lasting impression, assembling a collection for the workplace is an opportunity to reflect character and enhance the delicate balance of a space.

Words by Michelle Costanza