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In today’s market, office space that isn’t adding value sits empty. US employees now spend an average of 44% of their week working away from the office.1 A new study from global architecture and design firm Gensler shows that amenities like coffee, food, and outdoor space aren’t enough anymore. For the first time in history, employees are demanding to feel better at the office, or they simply work elsewhere. Gensler’s 2024 Global Workplace Survey says that high-performing workplaces don’t just support work, they provide better experiences for their employees. Successful office developers know to prioritize customer experience to attract and retain tenants. Taking a cue from the hospitality industry, they’re integrating art into office designs to create enriched environments that turn the office into a destination.

Tenant as Customer, Office as Destination

Art turns the office into a destination

“Workplace performance is no longer defined only by building efficiency or space effectiveness, it is also measured by the emotional response to space: the workplace experience.”

— Gensler’s 2024 Global Workplace Survey

For their 2024 Global Workplace Survey, Gensler’s research department interviewed thousands of workers around the world. They identified the performance levels of individuals, teams, and organizations and analyzed their workplace design to see what high-performing workplaces have in common. Most organizations, regardless of performance, were intentional about the effectiveness of their workspace, prioritizing how well it supported the work. They considered functional details like design look and feel, ease of contact to people and resources, and noise levels. But high-performing workplaces also focused on workplace experience. These are details that aren’t directly related to work, but affect how employees feel about the workplace.

“Great workplaces are intentionally designed to evoke feelings in a space by overlaying experience factors with space function,” Gensler’s Global Workplace Survey says.

Great workplaces intentionally overlay experience factors with space function.

Workplace Effectiveness
How well the space supports the work.

+

Workplace Experience

How workers feel about the space.

=

Workplace Performance

Level of innovation.

Top 3 Experience Factors to Take an Office from Good to Great

According to Gensler, the experience factors that most elevated workplaces from good to great were feeling that the space was beautiful, feeling that it was welcoming, and feeling that it inspires new thinking.

The Link at Uptown in Dallas, Texas
1

Feels beautiful

2

Feels welcoming

3

Inspires new thinking

Source: Gensler 2024 Global Workplace Survey

High-performing workplaces provide employees access to what they call “enrichment places” in the office or in the surrounding neighborhood. Enrichment places provide workers with access to arts, culture, entertainment, and spiritual spaces.

In fact, they found that high-performing workplaces have twice the access to arts and culture as low-performing workplaces. While the disparity for amenities like coffee, restaurants and bars, and outdoor spaces is far less significant.

High-performing workplaces have more than twice the access to arts and culture as low-performing workplaces.

Arts/Cultural/Museums

High-Performing Workplaces 62%

62%

Low-Performing Workplaces 27%

27%
While the disparity for other amenities is far less significant.

Coffee Shops

High Performing Workplaces 84%

84%

Low Performing Workplaces 58%

58%

Restaurants/Bars/Pubs

High Performing Workplaces 82%

82%

Low Performing Workplaces 63%

63%

Outdoor Spaces

High Performing Workplaces 80%

80%

Low Performing Workplaces 60%

60%

Source: Gensler 2024 Global Workplace Survey

Art is a Driver of Better Workplace Experiences

art turns the office into a destination

Art can play a major role in creating the sort of stimulating, visual environment shown to increase employee well-being and output. Studies show that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Things like light, color, texture, and sound influence us on a physiological level, even if we don’t realize it. They provide enrichment that stimulates our nervous system and helps us perform at our best. In fact, studies show workplace art improves productivity and employee experience, if executed properly. Long-term exposure to unenriched environments, on the other hand, causes a gradual corrosive effect on our brains, health, and well-being. The following are six projects we worked on that used art to turn the office into a destination experience.

1. 1121 at Symphony Square, Austin, Texas

art turns office into destination

“I can confidently say that the art program that A+A has introduced at 1121 @ Symphony Square has direct, positive impacts on our building, the customer experience and how the building is perceived by both prospective occupiers and the community as a whole.”

— Charlie Musgrave, Vice President Leasing, Office & Life Science, USA, Ivanhoé Cambridge

“Exceptional workplaces consider the entire ecosystem of space offerings in and out of the office,” says Gensler’s 2024 Global Workplace Survey. 1121 at Symphony Square is a shining example of this. The class A, mixed-use development is located in the Red River music district of downtown Austin, Texas, surrounded by the Waller Creek Greenbelt. We helped developers find artwork that incorporates all of these elements into the building. Original murals and mosaics draw inspiration from the natural beauty outside as well as from the neighborhood’s musical history. An abstract mural on the building’s exterior makes the building pop while, up close, tiny details in each piece come to life. The result is an enriched environment that appeals to long-time Austinites and gives newcomers a sense of place.

See images of the art inside 1121 Symphony Square in the gallery below.

2. T3 Eastside, Austin, Texas

T3 Eastside Austin Texas

T3 Eastside is a Class-A, mixed-use mass timber building from global real estate investment manager Hines that’s rooted in the values of sustainability, wellness, and smart design. We helped them put together an art package that reflects those values. Wood mosaics match the sustainably sourced timber construction and interiors. Abstract paintings with electric, neon accents invoke a creative feel. Original commissioned artwork with sculpted canvas conjures a vibrant, 3D, motion effect. A custom graphic mural in the gym depicts Austin’s running community and the city’s healthy lifestyle. Another custom graphic mural in the lounge features a map of Austin with a neon line running through it to represent the Lance Armstrong Bikeway located just outside the building.

See images of the art inside T3 Eastside in the gallery below.

The Link at Uptown art in lobby

A spectacular art package facilitates the developers’ vision for Class AA luxury office tower The Link at Uptown as a place where connections are made between neighborhoods and companies in downtown Dallas. The lobby features a statement piece made of a network of interlocking glass forms that change color throughout the day thanks to vibrant, LED backlighting. Visible from the street, it literally draws in passersby. We put together an entire package of iconic art pieces to place throughout the building. “ For example, art in the 12th floor amenities lounge features streetscapes from the surrounding Dallas business community created with individually rolled Dallas Business Journal publications.

See images of the art inside The Link at Uptown in the gallery below.

4. Thompson Coe, Dallas, Texas

Art creates enrichment spaces at the office

Employee-led art selection committees can be a great way to generate excitement and promote a culture of inclusion in the workplace. We led a selection committee at the law firm of Thompson Coe to find an art package for their new Dallas corporate headquarters with a variety of artistic styles that make a strong first impression, inspire conversation, elevate the environment, and align with their interior design. The art package includes stunning digital photography, watercolor, oil painting and more.

See images of the art in the gallery below.

5. Corporate Private Investment Firm - Austin, Texas

Art to enrich office spaces

High-performing organizations in the Global Workplace Survey have a clear strategy for innovation championed by leadership. That’s certainly the case for this corporate private investment firm in Austin, Texas. They wanted art that aligns with the company’s values of innovation and humanitarianism. We helped them find artwork that acts as conversation starters around every corner of the office. The result was an art package that provides a way to connect with visitors and fosters an atmosphere of inspiration and engagement for employees.

See images of the art in the gallery below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftmCnkr0La8&t

When this Fortune 500 firm built its new campus in Austin, fostering connection was key. Employees would be working from one location for the first time and the artwork needed to grab attention, inspire conversation and appeal to a younger, tech-savvy employee base.

We helped them find art for the lobbies in each building on campus. These areas serve to welcome visitors and as collaboration spaces for employees. Color and interactive pieces encourage everyone to experience the art while creating significant opportunities for social engagement.

One installation features several 8′ x 23′ cylinders comprised of hundreds of handwoven monofilament wires. As you move throughout the room, the cylinders create an illusion of flowing light.

Another building features a kinetic, fully functioning clock with massive acrylic gears that move with weights and a swinging pendulum. Employees and visitors are encouraged to become part of the experience by winding the clock.

See images of this workplace art in the gallery below.

Conclusion

In today’s marketplace, office developers must go beyond function to create enriched spaces that provide workers with feelings of engagement and wellbeing. Art can play a major role in creating stimulating, visual environments that increase employee engagement, well-being and output. When this happens, the office becomes a destination. Let Art + Artisans help you find the right art to enrich your workspace. Contact us to put our skills to work for your next project.

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