Some Thoughts on Artwork, Decorations, and Culture in the Workplace

Yesterday a co-worker came over to tell me some things that were bothering her. Among them, someone who managed the building had come by and told her that she needed to remove some birthday decorations. These decorations stretched to the ceiling above her cubicle, and basically amounted to colorful streamers. I asked my co-worker how long they had been up, and she told me “about a year.” I then tried to diffuse the situation with humor and said, “Well I guess the fun police came to town today.” She agreed but her frustration was evident.

I don’t know if the incident could constitute what many people might today describe as a “micro-aggression,” but I certainly thought it showed poor judgment to basically take away something harmless that someone enjoyed. It might sound trite to some people reading this, but I really think office artwork, decorations, plants, creature comforts, and other environmental factors matter. Here’s why: they are conversation starters, set a tone, make people happier, and make people healthier. A lot of scientific studies confirm this concept.

Today I was going through some recent photos from my phone, and saw this one from about two months ago.

A shrine to Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson in an office.

Here’s the backstory:

Recently my wife started a new job, and I got a chance on a day off to go visit her with my brother, see the new space, and meet with her co-workers. Like most offices, it was mostly barren of interesting elements, until we came across this shrine.

Unless you just don’t like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it would be hard not to see the value in this concept. Everyone needs a boost from time to time, and wouldn’t you rather being reminded that “You Rock!” than told to take those decorations down, or forced to suffer in the nothingness of a sterile office environment?

After I showed her this article, my co-worker gave me a photo she took with her decorations before she took them down. So I’ve now added it here so you can see the joy for yourself.

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