19/12/2001

Study shows office art can promote productivity

A recent study has revealed that art in the office could lead to a better working culture, more relaxed staff, and improved productivity.

According to research commissioned by printer manufacturer Lexmark, art in the office can promote creativity, relax stressed workers and increase business productivity, adding to a company’s success. Whether it’s classic depictions of serenity or abstract lines of vivid colour, the paintings lining office walls are more than just decoration.

According to the author of the report, psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, the choice of art can affect the way staff operate and how prospective customers perceive the business. It reveals that art is a significant part of office ‘make-up’, helping to generate an atmosphere and giving an organisation and its workforce a personality.

The study, which examined emotional responses to popular paintings, suggests art that is incompatible with the functions of its surroundings, can impact on job satisfaction, absenteeism, productivity and working relationships.

Art by Munch was found to be the most intimidating and depressing, while Picasso raised aggression levels. In comparison, Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ promoted feelings of happiness and inspiration, and was voted as a favourite stress reliever for females.

Certain industries carried common themes. For example, abstract and ‘inoffensive’ contemporary art is favoured by the legal sector, promoting a non-distracting environment that tends to think of itself as modern and cutting edge.

In contrast, the media sector boasts pop posters, branding and advertisements, blatantly celebrating the modern popular culture. Paintings by art school graduates and up and coming contemporary artists are also popular.

Surprisingly, the design industry tends to be more practical when lining its walls, preferring, calendars, plans and own designs to the exhibition of another person’s works. These features make for a stern working environment, promoting more a feeling of duty than calmness or happiness.

Launching the new stress-relieving modern art macro-site, stressed office workers taking a break could visit www.print-art.com to view the paintings and complete a stress survey

Dr Sigman concluded that the study reinforced the notion of ‘sick building syndrome’, whereby corporate colours, lighting and design can carry strong impressions about an organisation and can even affect the wellbeing, morale and efficiency of office workers.

He said: “Much of the effect of art (and décor) in the office is likely to operate at a subliminal but highly influential level. Senior managers and junior members of staff should both take heed, as the secret of a company and individual success is ‘written’ on the wall.” (SP)

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