Art in the Workplace: Part 1 – Health Benefits

5 mins read

This article explains 3 health benefits that can be experienced from having thoughtfully chosen artwork in the workplace.

Workspaces can often feel like a maze of desks, walls, hallways, and doors which can understandably make an environment less than desirable to work in for employees. Creating an environment that feels physically and psychologically safe is a critical aspect to help ensure employees can offer their best when working. Incorporating artwork into the office environment is one of the best ways to enhance a business’s atmosphere, and while it is usually only linked to visual appeal and branding aspects, artwork can also have positive health benefits for those viewing it. Studies have shown that humans are biologically wired to appreciate and display emotion towards visual art.

In the 1st part of this series, we will take a look at 3 health benefits that can be experienced from having artwork displayed in the workplace.

1. Lowers Stress and Anger Levels

The first health benefit that artwork can offer is the ability to reduce stress and anger levels.1 This is a significant benefit, as prolonged periods of highly focused work can accidentally promote an environment of tension and stress. High stress levels, which are increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, are linked to many further health issues caused by high blood pressure, lack of sleep, and anxiety. The anger and stress experienced can lead to becoming cognitively exhausted, which begins to affect the function of the brain. Viewing artwork, especially those displaying realistic nature scenes, helps in restoring mental function by reducing cortisol levels and reducing stress.2 Nature images can also result in lower levels of anger in workplaces. Chronic anger tends to result in poor work performance, retaliatory behaviour, increased absences, and even a higher turnover rate.

2. Increases Interpersonal Interactions

Another great benefit of displaying artwork in the workplace is its ability to promote discussion among employees. These conversations that spark creativity and innovation increase the interpersonal interactions within the office. When these benefits are experienced, employees tend to be more open to different points of view, considering new concepts, and are also more cooperative. Morale is a very important aspect of company culture and can also be a factor in employees’ overall mental health in feeling like they are in a safe environment.

3. Increases Happiness

Viewing artwork has also been linked to increasing levels of happiness. Studies show that visually appealing artwork stimulates the part of the brain responsible for pleasure and reward, and even provokes a feeling similar to love. These increased levels of happiness are due to an increase in dopamine, which is known as the “feel good neurotransmitter.” Dopamine levels also affect our movement, memory, and focus, which are all important aspects of our health and ability to function throughout our workday! For more on this, check out this short video featuring neuroscientist, Dr. Zeki.

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Artwork for Health

As you can see, in this article along with various studies throughout history, viewing artwork can provide many benefits to our health. Simply looking at a pleasing piece of artwork can lower our stress and anger levels, increase our interpersonal interactions and creativity levels, and improve our general feelings of happiness. While artwork has been commonly used to enhance the environment and appearance in a workplace, we now know artwork can also increase our health!

Next up in this series, we will explain tips to help in choosing artwork for the workplace.

1 Kweon, Byoung-Suk, et al. “Anger and Stress: The Role of Landscape Posters in an Office Setting.” Environment and Behaviour. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258132363_Anger_and_Stress_The_Role_of_Landscape_Posters_in_an_Office_Setting

2 Clow, Angela. “Normalisation of Salivary Cortisol Levels and Self-Report Stress by a Brief Lunchtime Visit to an Art Gallery by London City Workers.” Journal of Holistic Healthcare. https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/download/e2f2c5a83af1a5bda4ba86cd1a0d0fc06038ba9c54491da6bbe89380177394b7/196888/Clow_%26_fredhoi_2006_final.pdf

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