How can art bring co-workers together?

During challenging times and periods of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to feel inspired and a sense of belonging in our places of work. As we begin to cautiously emerge from lockdown in the UK, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to reexamine the way in which we interact with the workplace, and the lasting impact it will have on our working experiences.

Here are a few techniques we have used to transform different workplaces into spaces that support productivity, well-being and creativity.

Interactivity 

Artworks and installations with interactive elements can take many different forms, but fundamentally they depend on providing different sensory outcomes depending on the information it receives. 

For SoundSkate, we created a custom LED system made from skateboard trucks that reacts in real time to the audio levels in the space, paying homage to the legendary Southbank skatepark near to the building. As co-workers and guests move in close proximity to it, the sensitive microphones translate the sounds into a colourful equaliser display that energises the space. 

Interactivity can have a positive impact not only for bringing fun and playfulness into the office, but because it helps employees forge a sense of ownership with their surroundings. The more we see our choices and decisions having an impact around us, the better connected and supported we feel, leading to more confidence in decision making, teamwork and leadership.

Collaboration

Working with others, particularly people of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences, helps to create a diversity of thought that leads to better ideas and more effective innovation. 

Shoreditch Lives is an exploration of collaboration and representation with people that either live or work in the local area. We asked people from a range of backgrounds to attend a 3D scanning session, while holding an object that best represents their character. Each figure was then 3D printed and placed in bespoke packaging, designed as a nod to the classic “hipster” stereotype often associated with East London.

The miniature figurines capture a moment in these people’s lives, showcasing the breadth of characters that live in this ever-evolving part of London. By collaborating with locals to create artwork which represents themselves and others that look like them, we directly form a bond with people within the space, allowing them to “feel seen” and welcome in the culture and community.

Storytelling

Spaces and artworks that tell stories help people to bond with each other through a sense of collective identity. 

With our work for Money Super Market, we created a vibrant and dynamic “Mantra Wall”, a collage made from ripped strong graphics and text that reflected the values of the business and what they pride themselves on.

For Greensill, we created a number of Terrariums which inside depicted miniature scenes from their work company culture, which combined brand identity and collective memory into an artistic display. This encourages open discussion and feelings of nostalgia for the coworkers which they can reminisce and bond over, bringing the team together on a more emotional level.

Final Thoughts

Interactivity, collaboration and storytelling are key design elements that can often overlap with one another, resulting in a synergy that enables deeper interpersonal bonds and stronger human connections.“Red Thread” for Mediacom, WWP Amsterdam harbours elements of storytelling due to its association with Mediacom’s brand values and focus on content and connectivity, whilst encouraging interactivity and collaboration with a board dedicated to polaroids of the team members. The customisation of the board by the team themselves leads to ownership and team-building that can improve work performance.

A similar approach was used with our “Having A Crack” artwork for The Office Group Liverpool Street, where we invited members of the team to interact with the outer perimeter of their building. Presented with photographs of cracks in the concrete, they were asked to draw over and around them to create new pictures, images and shapes, resulting in a series of 36 unique pieces of art that embrace the theme of “old and new”.

Whilst the future of our relationship with the workplace is uncertain, we know that this is not the end of the office, but a new beginning and a new opportunity. In order to bring people together when remote working is much more commonplace, we must reshape and redefine our cultures of work, so that people stay connected and engaged to their working environments when using them less frequently.

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