Making work feel beautiful

Great art in the workplace is about more than inspiration - it's about giving your team the space to express who they are and put themselves into their work.

art is often overlooked as a source of inspiration in the workplace

Yep, okay, there's something a bit dystopian about that sentence, isn't there? "Making work feel beautiful" suggests some kind of brainwashing exercise - plugging your workers into a life of nothing but work, and making sure they love it at the same time!

But what if that's not what it's about at all. What if it's about making sure the workplace is a space where staff feel they can really express their personality and individuality? Where they are consulted on the images and atmosphere they live in every day. What could a workplace like that look like? What sort of work might it create? What would it feel like to work in?

We were prompted to think about this today by an article in OnOffice magazine suggesting that office workers overwhelmingly hate the artwork put up in their office. Workplace art is a strange thing - offices feel they should have it, that it adds character to the space, but many aren't sure how to use it go really give staff what they need.

Think about it like this. We've all had one job or another where we felt that heavy sense of switching our "real selves" off somewhere around the revolving door into the office. Looking every day at a piece of art we can't stand makes us feel that even more heavily. This isn't art we'd have in our home. It doesn't speak to us. This isn't a place we belong. We can't express ourselves the way we want.

Do you think, feeling that way, you gave your absolute best in that role? Did you feel inspired to offer new ideas and feel like the company's success was an extension of your own? Or did you feel like it was just a job you had to do so you could leave and go back to your real life? In environments like this people might work hard, but they don't want to put themselves into their work. Feeling like that is no fun for staff, and it's no good for the company. No one feels they're giving their best.

As a company that offers fresh menus every day, we've built our business on understanding what our customers like and don't like, what food speaks to them and gets them excited. We invest a lot of time into consulting with customers and regularly taking on feedback and requests so we can adapt our menus to individual tastes. This is about making staff feel ownership over their workplace, and therefore over their work.

Sometimes this means surveys, sometimes friendly chats with the customers about their meal, sometimes workplace committees of the most food-loving members of the team - to give us suggestions and ideas for food they'd enjoy.

Shouldn't offices be doing the same with their art?

What do you think? Should we consult staff more closely over art purchases? How might that work? What are the pitfalls? Join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn or send us a tweet.