=Fake plants, colourful bean bags and inspirational quotes are the stuff of the modern office.
But entrepreneur and founder of art-as-a-service social enterprise ColourSpace Scott Ko believes Australian offices are missing an essential creativity-boosting ingredient: artwork.
Just as offices have fresh deliveries of flowers and fruit, ColourSpace curates art from local artists for offices and delivers, installs and changes the artwork every three months.
The local artists share in the revenue and royalties, with ColourSpace successfully selling 10 per cent of artists’ work through the program. Artworks have been displaced on the walls of the Reserve Bank of Australia, University of Melbourne and Property Exchange Australia.
“We’ve displayed over 500 individual pieces of artwork to date and have helped artists sell more than 10 per cent of them,” Ko said.
"In essence, we're able to pay artists to get their works out on display and for sale."
And in a post-coronavirus shift, he believes offices need to dial up their thinking on the role of art in the office more than ever.
“For those considering other ways of improving the workplace from a mental health perspective, don't overlook the power of art,” Ko told Yahoo Finance.
“Far from being a picture on a wall, there's a growing body of research demonstrating the benefits of art on mental health.”
”With the World Health Organisation also recently concluding that engaging with the arts can improve health, every dollar we invest in making our workplaces mentally healthy yields a 230 per cent return on investment,” Ko said.
But from the human perspective, artwork can also help smooth the transition from working from a home environment to returning to a corporate space.
“We've seen first hand how regularly changing art has had positive impacts on the culture of all the clients we've serviced,” Ko said.
“It connects people in unexpected ways, gives people opportunities to take mental breaks throughout the days, and brings a vibrancy to the workplace that can't be achieved by plants or inspirational quotes.”
Coronavirus triggers mental health epidemic
Ko’s comments come as Australia teeters on the edge of a mental health epidemic.
“The stress of concerns about health, the loneliness of isolation, anxiety about a job, a small business set of finances, the mortgage - all of these pressures which come with the pandemic have created specific mental health challenges,” Minister for Health Greg Hunt said.
“Everyone here will have seen or felt, in amongst their own families or friends or circles, the pressures that are in place right across Australia.”
State and federal leaders on Friday agreed to boost mental health services’ funding by $48.1 million as Australians struggle under the pandemic, social distancing rules and extreme financial pressures.