Why art is the secret weapon in the battle to make business more productive

By Patrick McCrae

The positive impact of art on our physical and mental health has long been understood. Florence Nightingale recognized this 160 years ago – long before the term ‘wellbeing’ had been coined – when she wrote: ‘Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by colour, and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect.”

However, the potential to build more creative, productive workplaces through the power of art is rarely discussed. Research has shown that the character of a workplace affects job satisfaction, motivation and mood. Art needs to become part of this conversation.

Art activates the brain’s default mode network – the area associated with internally orientated thinking – helping us to retrieve memories and think about the future, as well as engaging our pleasure and reward systems.

Some business leaders might be sceptical that art can improve the quality of their staff’s work, but the concept is supported by a solid evidential base. Dr Oshin Vartanian, from the University of Toronto, has conducted extensive research on the neuroscience of aesthetics and creativity; he found that art activates the brain’s default mode network – the area associated with internally orientated thinking – helping us to retrieve memories and think about the future, as well as engaging our pleasure and reward systems.

In 2019, a survey of 81,000 employees for the Leesman Index, a comprehensive study of workplaces, found a median satisfaction of office and office photography of just 37%. 75% of those sampled said artwork and photography provisioning in their workspace was 55% satisfactory or less.

 
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About the Author

Patrick McCrae is Chief Executive of art consultancy ARTIQ He founded ARTIQ in 2009 to bridge the gap between the art and business worlds and to promote a fair deal for artists. ARTIQ is now on of the UK’s leading art consultancies, working with businesses to embed creativity into their culture and to harness the great power of art. In 2017 he was named ‘Creative Industries Entrepreneur of the Year (London and South East)’ at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.