Your employees are probably now all back from their summer holidays, and with the next break being Christmas, we imagine there’s a fair amount of the holiday blues going around the office.

A great way to help reduce this and boost morale is hanging some great art on the office walls. You may be more of a fan of the clean white walls and wood floor look, but a splash of colour and striking visuals can make all the difference employee motivation and productivity.

To hang or not to hang?

Let’s face it, the main requirements for a business are happy and motivated staff. They mean people will stay longer and create an all-round, positive working environment.

Achieving this is not just about great perks or bonuses, but also about the ‘softer’ touchpoints, such as the office space. The trend for the New York Loft-style interior is now being replaced with colour and vibrancy. Why? Because, quite simply, plain walls don’t increase productivity.

There is a school of thought that a plain office environment reduces distractions and increases productivity, but research from the University of Exeter found that this isn’t the case at all. In fact, they found that people who worked in ‘Enriched Offices’ with art and plants were 15% quicker and had fewer health complaints than employees who worked in ‘Lean Offices’ with plain walls.

To add to that, the University study also found that motivational posters didn’t constitute art and had no impact on the employees or the workplace. Essentially, staff need something visually interesting to inspire and help rest their mind from a task or looking at a screen for too long.

Types and styles of art

Hanging art that challenges the viewer is ideal for the workplace. It also needs to be a good size for it to be noticed and stand out when hung on the wall. If it’s too small, employees simply won’t see it and it won’t have the desired effect.

An office may not be the right environment for a traditional landscape or portrait, but Abstract or visually challenging Photography does work well. The reason for this is because they are open to interpretation, which gives the mind a chance to escape and think of something different. Not to mention inspire creativity.

A Meeting in the Aisle by Simon Cleary
A Meeting in the Aisle by Simon Cleary

Art is also good to help reduce noise. If acoustics are an issue, then a painting will help dampen sound, and if you have a noisy reception area or communal space, sculpture or an installation are also useful.

If you’ve gone for a particular look and feel or style in your office, then there is scope to buy art that may clash or contradict the design. As we’ve seen with gallery walls, mixing and clashing styles can really work well together.

Ultimately, you don’t want the art to blend in too much otherwise it will lose impact. You want your employees to sit back, take a mindful moment and embrace the image, so don’t be afraid to be bold!


Colour does have an effect on mood, so it’s important to take this into consideration when buying art for offices.

Blue is calming, whereas Red is energising and can encourage conversation. If your office is in need of a bit more energy and noise, then this colour will help. Yellow wakes the brain up and encourages thought, so is a great colour for the workplace as it can help give employees more energy and creativity.

Green and Orange are probably not the best colours at work as they are more calming, earthy tones that are better suited to more personal spaces or home interiors.

Black is a very confident colour, so monochrome photography could also work in an office environment. It may be worth breaking this up with splashes of colour to avoid creating the feeling of a ‘Lean Office’.

Three-Dimensional Art

Art doesn’t have to be a painting or a photograph, it can also be sculpture or three-dimensional, which could really shake things up in an office.

The conventions are to have paintings on a wall, but what about a piece of standalone art within the office space. It could really change the way employees think and help drive creativity. It could also be a little disruptive, but, in a corporate environment, that may not be a bad thing.

Good art is challenging and can make for good talking points with colleagues, which can also help create more of a team atmosphere and encourage conversation. As we all know, it can be easy to work in a bit of a silo, so it’s always good to break out of that from time to time.

Art can be a really positive force for good and can transform any space. The workplace is full of different personality types and interests, but a painting or sculpture can help colleagues find common ground. Not only that but buying original art doesn’t have to bust the budget as there is so much for all price ranges and styles. Go on, get shopping and have some fun!