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The workplace is undergoing massive changes. Hybrid working is the new norm and visitors are returning in person in greater numbers than employees. With their choice of work locations, people are increasingly approaching the workplace as consumers, demanding spaces that go beyond function to create workplace destinations. To attract and retain top talent and nurture client relationships, workplaces now need to make a big first impression, nurture health and wellness, and incorporate top amenities. Artwork can assist in all these areas to help cultivate work environments that are enticing to users who have their choice of where to work and conduct business.

Hybrid Working is the New Norm

81% of remote-capable workers are now working exclusively remotely or hybrid with the preference being for hybrid working.1 But while employees are taking their time returning to the office, traffic from visitors —which includes clients, vendors, delivery personnel and the public— increased over 100 per cent between 2021 and the end of 2022.2

The Consumer Experience is Being Applied to the Workplace

With their choice of workplaces, employees and visitors alike are now able to weigh whether doing business face-to-face is worth their time, health, and wellbeing. “Leaders need to make the office worth the commute,” says Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index Annual Report.3 “From when to go to the office to why work in the first place, employees have a new ‘worth it’ equation. And there’s no going back."

Applying the consumer experience to the office is something big commercial real estate management firms are taking seriously.

“There is no office amenity more valuable than the choice to go there or not. People don’t want to be forced to go back in so they need a greater experience when they do go in…” says David Cairns, Senior Vice President of Office Leasing for CBRE Canada.4

Big First Impressions: “Nature Dreams: San Francisco" by Refik Anadol is the first 3D AI data sculpture. It was commissioned by Kilroy Realty for the lobby of its 30-story office building at 350 Mission Street in San Francisco, also known as Salesforce East. The artwork's massive LED video wall is 40 feet tall and 80 feet wide. It uses 90 million images of National Parks and data of San Francisco wind.

Health and Wellness: In 2019, to unveil its newest location, London-based Uncommon, which touts itself as “a flexible workspace that puts wellness first,” partnered with light artist Marcus Lyall to create a bespoke, interactive light and sound installation. The installation, called “In a Heartbeat,” was placed in the lobby of Uncommon Liverpool Street and made accessible to the public. Composed of 7,200 LEDs, the installation monitors heart rates and stress levels through the touch of a finger and is designed to promote wellness by making people aware of the signals inside their body and how stress can affect their everyday life. The soundtrack that accompanies the installation is designed to soothe, with the generative music composition created in collaboration with leading ambient composer, Richard Norris. The heart rate software was designed in consultation with neuroscientist Professor James Kilner.5

How Art Can Help Turn the Workplace into a Destination

Commercial real estate experts agree spaces that can attract workers back to the office are now the priority for site selection. Whether it’s making big first impressions, cultivating health and wellness, or creating experiences that are worth coming in for, art will be an essential component.

A survey of over 1200 British workers conducted in 2022 by Brookfield Properties found that:

  • Workers want to work in spaces enriched by art, culture, and wellness, which they believe promote creativity, contentment, socializing and learning.
  • Of those with highly enriched offices, 75 percent prefer their office to their home when it comes to working, compared to just 53 percent of those in leaner offices.
  • 24 percent of workers feel inspired in their job, but for those working in enriched offices this was much higher, at 39 percent.
  • Of those who were exposed to a large range of cultural, wellbeing and social events at work, 34 percent strongly agreed they felt inspired by their jobs, compared to just 13 percent of those who had no such exposure.
  • 69 percent of respondents agreed that having interesting and visually attractive art pieces in the workplace contributes to their wellbeing.
  • 77 percent of respondents agreed that having interesting social, cultural or wellbeing events in the workplace contributes to their wellbeing.
  • Three quarters of workers reported that they enjoyed being involved in the wider community of their office space. For those who already have a large number of cultural and social events available, this figure was higher at 84 percent.
  • Overall, a large number of people (72 percent) said they felt motivated by the presence of their colleagues. However, this number fell by 9 percent for those in lean offices, suggesting that the atmosphere and opportunities at work are also important.

“The message is clear. If you want to have a workforce who feels engaged and inspired by their jobs, a key step is to redraw the office, making space for art and cultural and wellness events,” the report says.6

Brookfield Properties stands out in the commercial real estate industry as a company that invests wholeheartedly in the power of art and culture to create community at their properties. Their website boasts 500+ arts events annually with over a million attendees each year since 1988. In 2021, Brookfield commissioned the artists at Acrylicize to make a giant, responsive, digital video artwork for the reception area of Podium at Citypoint in London. The artwork, called "Still Life," is connected to a weather app that allows the painting to change to match the weather conditions outside in real time. Watch the video below to see "Still Life" in action and hear from Acrylicize founder James Burke about how it works and the inspiration behind it.

Resources to Learn More about the New Era of the Office


  1. Wigert, B. B. (2022, November 11). The Future of Hybrid Work: 5 Key Questions Answered With Data.
  2. Envoy. (2023, January 11). The Future of The Visitor Experience. WORKTECH Academy. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from
  3. Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work. (n.d.).
  4. Envoy. (2023, January 11). The Future of The Visitor Experience. WORKTECH Academy. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from
  5. Devaney, A. (2019, May 8). Uncommon Unveil Its Newest Flexible Workspace. Sustain Health Magazine.
  6. Brookfield Properties (Ed.). (2022, October 11). Art of the Workplace: A Report on the Positive Impact of Arts and Culture in the Office Environment. Brookfield Properties.
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