If I asked you to recall an office lobby that stands out to you, what does it look like? Is it memorable because of its cutting-edge architectural design or interior decor, grand sense of arrival, warm natural light and dramatic artwork, or is it memorable for its dated feeling of being old and tired with a painting that matches the wallpaper and furniture from the early 1990s?

An office entryway is important. It is a first impression for new employees, new customers, vendors, and visitors. Whether your logo is prominent or not, the sense of arrival or lack thereof is a reflection of your brand. The same artistic elements found in the lobby or entryway should be woven throughout the entire workspace.

As human beings, we all want to exist in inspiring places: our home, favorite coffee shop, yoga studio or gym, church, parks, museums, and the list goes on. An inspiring work environment, surrounded by people who get the best out of us every day, should be available as well. The presence of art in the workplace can help achieve this effect.

According to spacesworks.com, “Great art is there to amaze, spark ideas and wonder, or to irritate if not confuse you. Whatever the effect is, it shakes you up and opens a new world. A world you can escape to at any given moment of the busiest day sitting trapped behind your computer.” 

Art isn’t purely an insignificant interior decorating decision. Companies that see the benefits of displaying paintings, prints, photographs, or sculpture in their offices are giving themselves a significant advantage over their competitors. Employees thrive in a positive and optimistic environment, and research suggests that having art in the workplace increases creativity, efficiency, and even productivity.

Art makes a statement about a company’s values and can even reflect its history. It has the ability to demonstrate the company’s spirit and energy to employees, clients, and partners and even make that company more appealing to future prospects. In lobbies, conference rooms, elevator landings, as well as all other areas of a workplace, a carefully selected piece of art can send a message to those who see it, expressing and reinforcing brand values.

Paintings from different regions of the world can show a company’s global reach, while displaying sculpture of a local artist or photographs of area landmarks can show that a company supports and embraces its communities.

Art is subjective and elicits strong opinions, so in communal areas such as meeting rooms or flex spaces, it can serve as a focal point, get people talking and opening up to one another in a way that may not have otherwise happened.

Displaying a spectacular art collection does not have to be expensive. Instead of buying outright, companies can lease art periodically to refresh and reinvigorate the space. There are many talented artists, whose work is available and reasonably priced for both renting and for purchase. Organizations like ArtsMemphis or Urban Art Commission can help you identify artists whose work might be displayed in or commissioned for your office.

If you opt to change the work on display every six months or annually, it’s a good opportunity to host an opening and invite your clients to see the collection, engage them in the conversation, and even make it available for purchase to further support the artist. Promotion and coverage of the event, your company’s support of the artist, and the work itself are all examples of content that can be shared via email and social media and work into your existing marketing communications plan.

Whether art in the workplace promotes social interactions, evokes emotions, or facilitates personal connection-making, art overall is a critical component for an inspiring work environment.

Andrea Wiley is director of account management at DCA Creative Communications Consulting, and is an adjunct professor teaching advertising at the University of Memphis. She was the 2015-2016 president of the American Advertising Federation, Memphis Chapter, and can be reached at [email protected].