Be Distracted! It’s Good For You.

Okay, so the title might be a little bit of a fib. Depending on what distracts you, you might find that certain elements, like well-curated art and thriving plants, can work wonders in boosting your productivity, reducing stress, and improving overall well-being within your workspace.

Newsflash: Minimalism is no longer the reigning champion; maximalism has taken center stage. Those dull, utilitarian workspaces designed solely for function and privacy are now a thing of the past.

Artwork in our studios

So, what makes art and greenery so special in the workplace? Professor Smir Zeki, a prominent figure in the field of neuroaesthetics, has uncovered that gazing upon art increases blood flow to the brain, stimulating the pleasure center and triggering sensations akin to falling in love. As Mendick (2011) puts it, “What we found is when you look at art… there is strong activity in that part of the brain related to pleasure… art induces a feel-good sensation.”

A 12-year study by Dr. Craig Knight, a leading expert in the psychology of work environments, examined four different types of workspaces:

  1. Lean: containing only the essentials for task completion.
  2. Enrich: featuring pre-arranged art and plants.
  3. Empowered: similar to the enriched space, but participants could choose the placement of art and plants.
  4. Disempowered: participants arranged art and plants, but the experimenter undid these personal touches and returned the space to the enriched layout.

Brewer (2016) a journalist from the Guardian online expands on this, stating, “The team found that people who worked in the enriched office worked about 15% quicker than those in the lean office and had fewer health complaints – this figure then doubled for people who worked in the empowered space. As for those who’d seen their personal touches undermined; their productivity levels were the same as those in the lean space.”

These results emphasize that employees thrive when they have the power to personalize their workspace. Allowing employees to choose their own artwork, for instance, can lead to increased comfort and relaxation.

Let’s bid farewell to team morale and corporate posters – these do little to boost morale. Fine art, on the other hand, can serve as a cognitive exercise.

Work is undoubtedly stressful, and this stress is detrimental to mental and physical well-being. Art provides a remedy. Cortisol, the stress-inducing chemical in the brain, can be reduced significantly by taking a 35-minute break to explore an art gallery during the day.

Artwork in our studios

Now, what kind of art should adorn our workplace walls? First and foremost, let’s bid farewell to team morale and corporate posters – these do little to boost morale. Fine art, on the other hand, can serve as a cognitive exercise. We all know that exercising our brains leads to increased productivity, creativity, and stress reduction. Abstract and impressionist art stimulates our neurons as our brains seek out symmetrical values that bring joy. Moreover, art in the office can enhance brand identity and perception. Within a corporate setting, art humanizes the space, making consumers find the brand more relatable and likable. A well-designed workspace also fosters a sense of value among employees, motivating them to work more productively.

In conclusion, the incorporation of art and greenery into the workplace is not merely a decorative choice; it’s a strategic move to improve productivity and well-being. Art enhances brain function, reduces stress, and fosters creativity, while greenery adds life and vitality to the workspace. To create a truly empowering and engaging work environment, it’s time to embrace the power of art and plants. Maximalism, with its vibrant colors and diverse forms, is the new way forward in office design, offering a multitude of benefits for employees and businesses alike. So, let the artistry and nature flourish in your workspace, and watch as your productivity soars, stress diminishes, and well-being flourishes.

Working at one of Sutherland Labs’ many meeting spaces and research studios in London will leave you completely distracted… and fully motivated. We have well designed and interesting spaces full of character and history. Each room has secrets to uncover whether it be a hidden stash of chocolate or an interesting architectural feature. We value joy, design and everything sweet at the Labs!

Studio Coordinator

Sutherland Labs
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