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Contributed by
Sarah Hodgkins
Former interior designer Sarah set up Charlotte Designs 13 years ago. The company designs and paints murals, trompe l’oeil, faux and metallic finishes for homes, schools and businesses throughout the UK.
If you would like to discuss your office interior with someone who is a curious mix of artist, designer and marketeer, let’s have a coffee.
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There are lots of news articles at the moment around the state of the job market. There are apparently parts of the country which are at full employment and skill shortages in certain areas are beginning to emerge.

As we climb out of recession, the economy has turned into an employees’ market. I was speaking to one of my clients, a recruitment company, a couple weeks ago and they were saying that candidates are asking, where the prospective employers’ offices are and what are they like, before they will even go for an interview.

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This mural celebrates the company’s location and branding

So does your work environment really make that much of a difference? Research on this has been carried out on this, both sides of the pond and the undisputed answer is ‘Yes!’

A Robert Half survey has revealed that over a third of executives see the working environment as the most crucial factor in keeping an employee satisfied in today’s business world, compared to just 9% in 1993. And with the internet awash with pictures of Google, Hootsuite and Facebook’s funky office murals, it is understandable that young people particularly, want to see themselves in similar environments.

I went to see another company this week who have already invested considerably in their office interior and have further grand plans. They are a young, dynamic technology company whose success depends on them attracting the brightest, smartest people. Their philosophy is that if they can provide a cool work environment, they will be in a better position to recruit the people they need, than their competitors.

Technology has blurred the lines between our work and private lives, our work fulfills our need to belong and gives us a sense of identity.

What our work environment looks like, says a lot about our employer and ultimately about us. So, the bottom line is, if you want to grab the attention of the best people, your work environment has to reflect you, your values and attract the kind of employees you want to engage.

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A stylish office mural celebrating the company’s business and branding

The solution doesn’t have to be a major office refit, there are lots of low cost solutions that you can implement on a budget. Establishing and celebrating your brand identity is crucial, and it should be obvious where you are and what you are about from the moment you walk into your workplace.

Find out what it is that attracts people to your company and celebrate it.

What you want to promote will depend on you and your market, but you should feed your employees, clients and partners with information about you and what you are about. Murals are a cost-effective way of doing this; whether it is your history, location, customer list or culture, shout about it, be proud of who you are.

Contrary to what you might think, being distracted at work is not always a bad thing. If the object of your distraction is a work of art, it can actually boost productivity, lower stress and increase well being.

There is a real tendency to opt for sanitised, lean work spaces, designed to encourage staff to just get on with their work and avoid distraction, but there isn’t a branch of science in the world which believes this approach boosts productivity or makes for happier workers.

“If you enrich a space, people feel much happier and work better; a very good way of doing this is by using art.”

Says Dr. Craig Knight, who has been studying workplace interiors at the University of Exeter for 12 years.

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Trompe l’oeil window with coastal view

A recent study puts natural light as the second most important consideration in an office. Windows and natural sunlight boosts vitamin D production, which puts people in a good mood.

Windows also gives people a view outside, which reduces the feeling of being cut off from the world, and encourages creative thinking. If you are not blessed with a beautiful view from your windows, consider painting one.

So, if your business depends on its people, and let’s face it, whose doesn’t, why not create an environment that people will be falling over themselves to work in? It will reap its rewards.

– Sarah