Office artworks are a staple in nearly two-thirds of workplaces (62%) across the UK. Art offers a range of benefits for workers, and we wanted to know how companies are currently using art installations to enhance the experiences of their staff, and what employees would like to see from office art in the future.
To find this out, we surveyed 1,500 British workers, as well as residents of Austria, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, so we have a pan-European idea of what people are looking for from their workplace art, and how demands vary from country to country.
Using this information, we have created examples of the ideal office art for each country, collaborating with students from that nation.
As art becomes more commonplace in the office, it risks fading into the background of managers’ minds, and you might fail to recognise the importance it holds in motivating and inspiring your workforce.
54% of UK respondents to our survey stated that they think it is important for every workplace to have art displayed for its employees. The importance of art is highlighted even further on the continent, with 90% of workers in Italy wanting art in all offices.
A passion for art is reflected in Italian workers’ knowledge of famous painters. When asked to match famous artworks with their creators, Italians came out either on top or in second place out of the countries we surveyed for every artist.
The reason workers feel so strongly about art in the office is explained by the effects they attribute to it. Half of employees (50%) think art has a noticeable effect on reducing their stress levels, and over half (53%) say that having art displayed in the office made them feel happier at work.
This is an important indication that you should pay attention to art in your workplace as, with stress being the number two contributor to sick days in the country in 2017, it is a great way to combat one of the causes of illness.
British workers do not only feel that art has a positive impact on them, but also believe that this positive effect extends to prospective clients and employees. Having art people like to see hanging in your office will help you recruit the best staff and possibly improve your sales by conveying that you are a relaxed and creative business.
Other benefits of art in the workplace are also recognised by British employees, with 41% believing that having art in their office increases their productivity, and 37% thinking it improves their social skills by creating a relaxed atmosphere in which workers can interact.
Despite clear feelings on the importance and benefits of art in the office on the part of employees, there is a disconnect when it comes to employers picking up on these.
One third of UK workers surveyed think they do not currently have enough artwork in their office because their company does not understand the importance it holds.
A further 38% say they do not have enough artwork due to lack of budget, suggesting that even when employers do recognise the potential of having art in the workplace, they are reluctant to spend on it.
Big companies (those with over 250 employees) are worst when it comes to office artwork, with almost half (47%) not displaying any art in their workspaces.
UK businesses overall are doing fairly well in terms of providing artwork for their staff, with two-thirds of workers having at least one piece displayed in their workspace. In Austria, this is the case for only 57% of employees.
There is, however, room for improvement as other countries around Europe far exceed the amount of art displayed in offices. In Italy, 75% of offices feature artwork.
Improving your Artwork displays
Our survey responses show you do not have to reinvent the wheel to reap the rewards of displaying art in your office.
When asked, most UK employees said they wanted to see more traditional forms of artwork such as painting (30.47%), photography (27.07%) and print (19.6%), which is similar to responses across the other countries we surveyed. These artforms can easily be incorporated into your office spaces to liven them up and improve your staff’s working experience.
In terms of the style of art UK workers want to see, employees were leaning more towards contemporary and abstract pieces with these types receiving support from 24% and 21% of those surveyed respectively. While contemporary and abstract styles were popular across many countries, Germany bucked the trend in this area, demanding more classical styles of artwork.
The subject of artworks favoured by UK workers tie closely to nature, with one in five (19%) wanting images featuring wildlife and 24% wanting coastal views in their offices.
Choosing your Artwork
In the past, it may have been your habit to choose workplace art by yourself, without wider consultation with your staff. In the future consider involving your staff in the selection process, empowering them in their workplace.
42% of British survey respondents stated that they thought it was important for employee’s opinions on art in the workplace to be heard. Despite this, only 28% said that they had any way to express their thoughts on the subject. The UK is falling behind some of its European counterparts in this area, as 54% of workers in Italy say they have power over artwork in their workplaces.
Allowing your workers to choose artworks will make them feel more invested and involved in your company. Giving them power over something as simple as this is likely to create an increase in goodwill and loyalty.
Enabling your employees’ involvement in the art selection process does not have to be arduous. You could create a simple survey to quiz people about their preferences and ask them to submit suggestions for art or artists they would like to see in your workspace. From this data, create a shortlist and ask employees to vote for the piece they would most like to see installed.
The Ideal Office Artworks
Using the results of our surveys across all markets, we’ve created examples of the ideal office artworks around Europe. To do this, we collaborated with art students across the continent and had them use some of our office products as part of the artwork. The fantastic results are showcased below.
Artist details: Louise Claughton, Leeds College of Art
Most popular office artworks in the UK:
- 24% wanted contemporary style art works
- 19% wanted wildlife subjects
Louise has responded to what British workers want by creating a contemporary image of a stag at night. The final artwork includes stationary items such as paperclips and highlighters in its design.
Artist details: Luisa-Christin Kaßler and Lena Geiregger, FH Joanneum
Most popular office artworks in Austria:
- 37% want humour
- 32% want alpine landscape
- 30% want wildlife
Luisa-Christin and Lena collaborated to create this piece. It combines the top three subjects Austrian people wanted from their office artworks, using a cheeky fox in an alpine forest to address all three points. The scene is constructed from Viking products including different layers of paper, liquid and solid glue, Tipp-Ex and tape.
Artist details: Angelina Della Pepa and Kim Karle, Hochschule Mannheim University of Applied Sciences and the University of Leeds.
Most popular office artworks in Germany:
- 30% of Germans want coastal scenes in their offices
- 30% prefer classical styles to their scenes
Angelina and Kim have created a traditional beach scene for their market but have given it a new twist by using Viking materials. Used in the project was thick paper, a pin-board, Post-It notes, rubber bands, business card holders and a stapler.
Artist details: Patrizia Perera, Accademia delle Belle Arti
Most popular office artworks in Italy
- 35% wanted to see beach landscapes
Patrizia has been inspired by a classical Italian coastal scene for this project. She’s used Viking products including pastel markers to create the vibrant summer colours and a warm inviting sea on the horizon.
Artist details: Sarah Van Rossem, Academie voor Beeldende Kunst en Vormgeving
Most popular office artworks in the Netherlands:
- 35% want photography
- 37% prefer contemporary style
- 20% want to see riverside scenes
Sarah was inspired by the Dutch water landscape to create this piece. It involved mixing photographs together and drawing negatives on large transparent sheets to make photograms. See teamed this with office supplies including staples, cello tape and a hole punch to create the artwork.
Have you got any great examples of office art? Share them with us @Viking_Chat