By Anna Johansson • April 16, 2018•Careers
Some people naturally assume that art in the workplace is merely decorative. But what if art is more than something we look at? What if it actually plays a role in how we think, process, and work? Well, research suggests that it does. In fact, the relationship between art and productivity is so strong that many law firms are incorporating art in an effort to boost output.
The Relationship Between Art and Productivity
Outside of trendy startups and tech companies in Silicon Valley, most office workspaces are pretty muted and conservative. Words like sterile, clean, and sanitized come to mind. Cubicles, office chairs, light fixtures, filing cabinets, and office supplies are all purchased from standard office furniture stores or websites and plopped into symmetrical grids in the middle of a commercial space.
But why is office design – and particularly law firm design – so lean and boring? There’s no research that suggests boring office design has a positive impact on output. In fact, there’s an impressively large body of research from hundreds of different studies that shows enriching workspaces make professionals work better, smarter, faster, etc.
There are a variety of ways to enrich offices and commercial workspaces, but art seems to be one of the best options. Just ask Friedhelm Hutte, the global head of Deutsche Bank.
“Art offers a window into the social, political and economic aesthetics around the world and this makes it a good inspirational fit for our business because we live on developing new ideas for clients and reacting to what is happening in the world,” Hutte explains. But it doesn’t stop with banks and financial institutions. Art can be incorporated into any workplace – including law firms – and have an impact.
“I don’t believe the art makes every person who looks at it inherently more creative but it gets them involved on a more intellectual level about innovation around the world,” Hutte continues.
A study highlighted by Forbes supports this notion, finding that 78 percent of professionals believe art in the workplace reduces stress levels, while 64 percent say it increases and inspires creativity.
Incorporating Art Into Your Law Firm
In a law firm, where productivity and efficiency is often a primary goal, incorporating art into lobbies, meeting rooms, and individual offices can have a very real impact on output. Yet most lawyers have no clue where to start. Here are a couple suggestions:
1. Gradually Introduce Art
The best approach is to gradually introduce art into your office. Find an eclectic online art retailer – such as DECASO – and check in with them a few times per year. By adding a piece every few months, you’ll find that it has more of an impact than implementing multiple pieces at once.
2. Do Something Different
One of the primary objectives for introducing art into the workplace is to shake things up and make employees think differently about where they work. So instead of gravitating towards simple art, think about doing something quirky or eclectic. In fact, this is the exact approach the JAGShaw Baker Firm took when they started incorporating art into their office a few years ago.
“When it came to fitting out the office, I wanted something that was fun, open and didn’t look like a conservative law firm,” partner Tina Baker explains. “We wanted to pick artwork that was really fun. Our clients really appreciate the art we have in our conference rooms. In the meeting room, we have maps from New York, San Francisco and Berlin by Ursula Hitz.”
Try something totally different than what you would incorporate into your own home. While it’s important that you like the art, it doesn’t necessarily need to embody your style. You should be pushing your own boundaries and exploring new realms of creativity.
Dare To Be Different
There’s an unspoken feeling amongst most lawyers that it’s best to take a traditional and conservative approach to design and style. From fashion to office design, this idea seems to permeate the average law firm’s stance. But what would happen if you dared to be different? You don’t have to go crazy, but there’s something to be said for incorporating art into the office and reaping the rewards of greater creativity and productivity. Give it a shot!