Aesthetic need in creating a better working climate –


Boring places cause boring works, decrease the quality of the work done and makes the work only a work to make the employees wait for your payments to start over the same cycle. Matthew Gwyther, after visiting some Italian buildings including real art pieces on themselves, underlines the importance of art, aesthetic and inspiring working climates.

“One of the great advantages of art in Italy is that most of the paintings are still in the very places for which they were commissioned. They are frescoes, painted into the plaster as it dries, and frescoes are hard, if not completely impossible, to move, particularly if they are large. So when you walk into the old Council Chamber of Siena’s town hall, the Palazzo Publico, you will see, on the end wall, the great image of the Madonna and her court of angels which the counsellors of the 14th century would have looked at as they conferred. The fact that it was painted by Simone Martini, their very own artist, would have been a cause of some justifiable pride, but the real point was that the Madonna also happened to be the patron of their city and, as she is painted, her gaze forever looked down on them and their doings. Her gaze is benign, but at the same time demanding.” (Gwyther, 1997)

“I like more those traditions in which the directors start each day by feeling the stuff they make, or sampling their wares in one way or another. Those boardrooms are often decorated with their products, visual reminders of what they do. My publishers’ offices are lined with their latest books, it’s easy to see what they are about, books first, and then money to make more books happen. What, I wonder, is it like to work in an office where there are no visual reminders of what it’s all for? It must seem rather soulless and anonymous. Work then becomes merely a means to an end, a way of simply obtaining a pay cheque.

We can’t all devise or afford stylish murals to emphasise our corporate purposes, but we can infuse our workplaces with our values in one way or another. Atmosphere makes more difference than any number of logos.

Boring places breed boring thoughts and boring people, of that I am sure, and then the one feeds on the other to produce yet more boring spaces. Quality and style however, encourage quality and style in their inhabitants. It is hard to produce shoddy work in a beautiful place, where even the functional necessities are elegant. Buildings and offices often wear their hearts on their sleeves. You can tell what life is like within them just by taking a look at them.” (Gwyther, 1997)

Also a research published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine suggests that people who spend more of their working lives in jobs where they have little input in what work to do and how to go about doing it tend to die earlier than employees given more decision – making opportunities.

Some of the factors noted in the study such as monotonous work, and input into work design can be studied under the umbrella of macro – ergonomics. Techniques such as job enlargement and enrichment look at how to improve work that is monotonous or leaves little room for worker input. (Michael, R. ,2002, May 27)

There are a lot of ways to create such inspiring environments and one of them could possibly be providing room to the employees to create their own inspiring environments. Letting the artists in them perform. In Beuys’ approach to human being as an artist, we can see that how the working environment transformations can be resulted such as in question. It is kind of discussed in “Human Capital When Everyone Is an Artist” part; “Beuys thus envisioned his expanded art as a dynamo of human energy that could transform the environment. If art became the content of a new economy, the business context would in turn be reshaped by its energy”. (Guillet de Monthoux, 2004)

“In one advertising agency that I visited, everyone above a certain level was given a budget with which to furnish and equip their own room, with items from the company warehouse available for free. The result was a fascinating variety, reflecting the different tastes and needs of each individual. It was never going to be cost – efficient, but it was a fun place to work in, a place with an idiosyncratic atmosphere, one which challenged the individual who worked there to be creative and original.

I can’t help but believe that the famed creativity of the agency had some of its origins in the nature of the workplace. Where you work can’t help but influence what you do.” (Gwyther, 1997) In addition to the example here, another advertising agency in New York spends a lot of money for the decoration of their workspace for the inspiration it would spread and the creativity that would come with it.

 

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” David M. Ogilvy

Aesthetic objects that turn the working climate into an enjoyable place are to be supported by aesthetic behaviour as well. The little things that make this can be making sure that everybody has a comfortable seat, the lighting of office, putting a daily cartoon on the wall of the office and being open to talk with each other. Asking the employees about their opinions to improve the environment, face to face and leaving a space for them to express their own opinions about anything. This is giving them the brush and letting them create their own art in a level. Seeing energetic, talking with each other, joking and positive people interacting in the working environment also makes that place livelier.

Creating the aesthetic in the working environments even puts the company in another position such as being listed in the most desirable companies.

It appears the working environments that are inspiring and enjoyable for the employees to work, are the products of aesthetic thoughts. These objects are pulling the artists in people, out and give them the brush to work out. Thus, the employees are given the opportunity to create something new and therefore the excitement comes into play where the work place becomes more attractive.

“When in the early sixties Beuys offered and aesthetic redefinition of capital and labour rooted in art, he also became a pioneer of human capital management. It did not matter whether an individual was a doctor, forester, financial banker, teacher, or simple labourer; Beuys’s democratic proposition was that ‘everyone is an artist’. Art is the main source for human creativity in work. By the vehicle of art, the artist offers an escape route from the mechanical – inorganic world.” (Guillet de Monthoux, 2004)

This can also be related to recalling the children in adults. Children have no limits when playing and imagining because the limiters are not filling the room of their inspirations yet. Therefore recalling the children inside the adults would help them to find the artist in themselves. This can pass from using even toys in the working climates to inspire.

The need for the aesthetic objects in a working climate is not the Achille’s heel but it is needed where there is a need of inspiration and creativity. However, to my opinion, this is a need for majority of the companies even though they works might not be related to creative industry.

 

Foot notes:
Guillet de Monthoux, P. (2004). The Art Firm. Aesthetic Management and Metaphysical Marketing. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. [Pierre Guillet de Monthoux is Professor and Chair of General Management, School of Business, Stockholm University, Sweden. He has also written The Moral Philosophy of Management and edited Good Novels Better Management (with Barbara Czarniawska).]

Gwyther, M. (1997, November 1). UK: Handy’s View – Boring workplace, boring worker. Retrieved November 27, 2008, from managementtoday.com

Michael, R. (2002, May 27). Study Suggests Boring Work may be Deadly Work. Retrieved November 28, 2008, from Ergonomics Today

David MacKenzie Ogilvy, (June 23, 1911–July 21, 1999), was a notable advertising executive. He has often been called “The Father of Advertising.” In 1962, Time called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” He was known for a career of expanding the bounds of both creativity and morality.

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