Art is more than just a ‘nice to have’ in an office. It actually improves workforce productivity, happiness and wellbeing.

We do not need a scientific study to tell us that artwork in the office improves workforce productivity and wellbeing. It’s common sense. The nicer the environment, the happier the people in it and art is an integral part of that. However, for those still thinking that a lean office environment is the future, here are some brilliant reasons why this isn’t the case.

Dr Craig Knight from Exeter University studied 2000 office workers and their environments, to see if their office design affected their attitudes, productivity and engagement. He carried out experiments in offices with the following aesthetic environments: 

  1. Bare offices- minimal, functional
  2. Enriched offices- filled with art and plants

The results showed that those working in enriched environments had a 17% increase in productivity and reported less health issues in comparison to those working in bare offices. In Knight’s own words, “not only does office design determine whether people’s backs ache, it has the potential to affect how much they accomplish, how much initiative they take, and their overall professional satisfaction.” According to a Gallup report, a highly engaged workforce increases profitability by 21%. Therefore, office enrichment is a vital part of a company’s success. Artwork can be an effective (and affordable) way to achieve this.

Wellbeing can be described as a ‘dynamic state, in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others, and contribute to their community.’ The research published by Knight proves that enriched professional environments not only increase productivity but also improve individual wellbeing. How? As the additions of art and plants to office designs were shown to increase workforce productivity. Productivity is a foundational part of wellbeing. Therefore, office enrichment directly correlates with employee wellbeing. Artwork in the office can also inspire creativity which again, is vital to an individuals’ wellbeing.  

The benefits of artwork in offices are many, if executed in the right way. To summarise with an apt quote from Professor Knight, “if you enrich a space people feel much happier and work better; a very good way of doing this is by using art.”


“Mental capital and wellbeing” by the Government Office for Science