Working from home is not a new concept. The term ‘telecommuting’ was coined in 1973 by NASA engineer Jack Nilles. It was Nilles who conducted the first studies to see if using electronics remotely was practical. Not only did he find out it was practical, but he was fascinated by the likely benefits. Today, with so many people setting up to work from home, experts are seeing multiple benefits. People who work from home have proven they are more productive. While there are concerns about the lack of interaction between co-workers, having art in the home office combats stress and keeps people motivated and engaged.
The Home Office of The Past
While for some people working from home may seem like another aspect of the twenty-first century, remote working, or the original term telecommuting, is nothing new. In 1973 NASA engineer Jack Nilles referred to his own work as telecommuting. Nilles made a prediction that in ten or twenty years it would be the norm, not the exception that it was then. Almost ten years later Gil Gordon created a niche, calling himself a telecommuting expert as he worked as a consultant teaching small businesses how to start telecommuting programs. For decades Gordon held telecommuting conferences and created videos on the best ways to telecommute.
In 2014 a study by Global Workplace Analytics found the telecommuting population had grown by 5.6%. While many experts were arguing about whether the growth of working from home was inflated due to those who were self-employed, another study two years later ended the argument. This time Global Workplace Analytics found the work from home population had grown exorbitantly with an increase of 103%. At the time of the study, it was predicted growth of the work from home sector would continue as people were looking for a better work life balance. At the time no one could see how a pandemic would further implode those statistics.
Covid And The growth Of the Home Office
In 2020 the growing population of home workers exploded as Covid made headlines. Almost a year later, much of the work population is telecommuting or working remotely from their homes. Whether employees desired the work option or not, the wildfire like spread of Covid made working in offices a high-risk activity.
There are many people who already had a home office to tackle after hours work details on occasion. Many people tackled after hour to do lists for their jobs from the kitchen or dining room table. As Covid sent more people packing from their office buildings to their homes, an interest in recreating their work environment at home has become popular. Suddenly office supply stores were inundated with requests for ergonomic chairs and desks. Desks have become such a hot commodity that many stores have run out and don’t know when they’ll be getting more in. While people working from home were recognizing the need to keep themselves healthy with proper seating for long hours at their desks, it also became evident that their surroundings mattered too.
For those who have a separate space or room in which to work from, it may have been the first time they took a good look around them. For many, as they spend hours working in small rooms or crowded spaces, they found themselves staring at pictures thrown up on walls in an effort “just to have something up”. Others may be staring at blank walls that have been waiting for pictures or canvases they never had time to look for. Spending countless hours in their home offices or workspaces, people are realizing that art is more than a finishing touch to make a room look better. Art has the power to influence health and make people feel better.
The Benefits of Art in the Home Office
For the last several years, the benefits of art in the workplace have been written about by business experts and psychology experts alike. Dr. Craig Knight of the University of Exeter spent a dozen years studying the impact work environments have on employees. Knight found the tendency was to go with a minimalist look that was almost sanitize with a goal of ridding the workplace of any possible distractions. Knight argued that no discipline of science saw any benefits of this theory. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Knight believed that enhancing the work environment made employees happier and happy employees work better. Knight believed art was a good way to do just that. Apparently, the corporate world agreed with him. In 2016 it was found that Deutsche Bank had the biggest collection of corporate art in the world. It was estimated that the financial giant had sixty thousand works of art spread throughout nine hundred offices worldwide. Furthermore, a recent study conducted by Forbes surveying more than eight hundred employees discovered almost eighty percent said that art at work reduced their stress. The same can be said for art in the home office.
While the influx of working from home has grown due to Covid, studies as far back as a decade ago looked at the impact of an employee being able to decide what their workplace would look like. Workers who have a say in their work environment are happier, healthier, and more productive. Working from home is the perfect opportunity for people to choose what they surround themselves with while working. Art is the most significant choice.
It’s been proven through studies that adding art to the home office can boost productivity by seventeen percent. Art has a proven effect on motivation. Those who work in an environment surrounded by color and art they have chosen themselves are faster workers.
No matter where one is working, Covid has created stressful times for everyone. It’s been long known that art is therapeutic. The benefits of viewing art have been established and art therapy is being used to combat a number of mental health issues. When people look at art, they are happy and happy feelings increase blood flow which in turn releases the happy hormone. It also reduces the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Art in the home office reduces stress simply by giving hard working eyes a respite from screens.
Creativity is tied to productivity. While thinking of productivity may conjure up images of grinding wheels and number crunching, creativity produces the opposite. There’s a certain peace and calm in art. Art in the home office inspires creativity and creativity leads to productivity. Creativity enhances the thought process, enabling people who work from home to come up with ideas and solutions. In a home office where there is art creativity is nurtured. Creativity and productivity are enhance in the home office by art people working from home have chosen. Fostering creativity in the home office makes people more likely to try new things without fear of failing. Surrounded by art, those who work at home are more likely to think out of the box, leading to new ideas, solutions to problems, more motivation and increased productivity.
With so many companies depending on employees who are working from home, communication has become more important than ever. Zoom conference calls and Slack messaging are just some of the communication tools remote workers are relying on. People who work from home are figuring out how to tackle work issues that they once handled face to face. A recent Harvard study discovered that art evokes emotional responses. Art helps facilitate more open communication and better interpersonal connections. This makes art an integral step in creating a home office that benefits everyone.
Curating Art for Your Home Office
You don’t need to be an art expert to select art for your home office. You can start by deciding if a theme might be an appealing way to create your environment. Do you enjoy being out in nature? Perhaps some photographs of wooded areas with the light hitting the trees exactly right invokes a feeling of calm for you. Maybe you would love to spend more time by the water. Photographs of beach scenes or paintings of beach scenes with calming blues and greens might be the right choice for you. A theme can be built around a subject like nature, a color palette, or any design that appeals to you.
Decide where you want to hang art in your home office. Things to take into consideration include natural light, available space, and the possibility of your artwork being seen on camera by co-workers during conference calls. Lighting is one of the most important considerations as natural light energizes. It’s also the best way to showcase your art. East or west facing windows get the best natural light in the mornings and evenings. If you have the luxury of choosing any room in your home for your office, north or south facing windows are the ultimate options. Keep in mind when choosing art for your home office that direct light can cause photographs to fade over time. If you purchase valuable paintings talk to an art expert about the best ways to protect them in your home office.
While you may not be able to visit a gallery right now, online galleries offer an opportunity to find art for your home office. Additionally, they’re a great way to introduce yourself to new artists.
Whether you’ve always worked from home or you’ve found yourself tossed into the sea of remote working, art is one of the most enjoyable ways to boost your motivation and grab some health benefits too.