Having a painting around might help with those yawns. (edit Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

It may seem obvious that looking at an artwork is less depressing than staring at the sad gray enclosure of your office cubicle, but now, there is research to back it up. A new research study found that for 69% of participants, having “interesting and visually striking art” at the workplace contributes to their well-being.

Brookfield Properties, an international real estate development and operations firm, commissioned Perspectus Global for the research study concerning the factors that make employees most effective and inspired in the workplace. The study incorporated 3,250 participants from ten major cities across the United Kingdom (UK) who worked between two to four days in person.

Only 38% of participants said they are currently satisfied with the atmosphere of their workplace. Unsurprisingly, poor office design also contributes to dismal sentiments and poor mental health for employees: 41% of those surveyed agreed that their workplace was “designed poorly,” and 37% of them stated that their workplace was downright uncomfortable. However, only a third of those surveyed who worked in enriched offices with cultural events and wellness amenities agreed with those assessments.

The findings are not all that shocking given the dramatic shift in workplace culture since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, another research poll orchestrated by British recruitment company Robert Walters last August found that 54% of white-collar participants said that their workplaces have become “unrecognizable” in the last 12 months, citing the high staff turnover, spotty office presence due to remote and hybrid work, and lack of camaraderie and team social events as chief reasons for such strong sentiments.

The Brookline Properties study highlighted a response from Craig Knight, the founder of Identity Realization, a company with the goal of maximizing workplace engagement and wellbeing, about the potential for art to improve workers’ environments. “We found that using art as a form of enrichment has the capacity to boost productivity by up to 17 percent,” Knight said.

All that aside, while it may be nice to have a beautiful impasto painting in the break room (if you’re lucky enough to have one), we should probably be critical of companies “art-washing” the workplace to feign investment in employee well-being.

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Rhea Nayyar

Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual...

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