The things with which you choose to surround yourself every day influence you and reflect your attitudes and values. If that were not the case, people would not expend significant time and money decorating their homes to provide the type of environment in which they want to live.
Your surroundings influence your moods and actions, at home and elsewhere.
But you are not just surrounded by visual stimuli at home. The same is true when you are out in public or at your place of work. And what you see when you are at work or out and about has an influence on you. In fact, one study in the UK found that a single motivational poster in an Underground station about taking the stairs instead of an escalator doubled stair use. Furthermore, stair use dropped again after the poster was removed.
Motivational and inspirational prints in the workplace are nothing new, and they affect how people feel and perform at work. And when they are chosen in alignment with company values and to harmonize with the general aesthetic of a workplace, they can be both beautiful and helpful.
Motivational and Inspirational Prints Have a Storied History
Motivational posters have a long history. Most people have seen reprints of famous posters produced by various governments during World War II, for example. The 1917 “I want you for U.S. Army” poster featuring "Uncle Sam” is iconic. Another poster — “Rosie the Riveter” that was only briefly displayed within Westinghouse to encourage hard work from its female wartime workforce reads “We Can Do It!” and has gone on to motivate generations of American women. Both posters are part of the American pantheon of inspirational posters and these are just scratching the surface.
Unfortunately, older historic motivational posters had their share of covert and overt racism and sexism, but the ones that still resonate today, such as the British “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster displayed briefly during the lead-up to World War II, have a timeless meaning that works in a variety of contexts.
Over 2.4 million of these posters were printed to
help steel London's resolve during WW2.
Older Motivational and Inspirational Prints Were More Directly Work-Related
Motivational and inspirational prints in the workplace have been around for nearly one hundred years. Many of the early examples were card-sized and designed to be displayed on easels on individual desks. They tended to have wording that was work-specific, though general enough to be used by a variety of people in a variety of office settings. In fact, in the 1920s, businesses could subscribe to a service that delivered these motivational prints regularly.
Productivity and good morale are two reasons businesses use motivational posters.
The text on these cards plainly stated what employees should do (“Always carrying out instructions invites more important duties”) and should not do (“Gossip — kills time; hurts everyone; gets you nowhere”), and often plainly stated the value of a strong work ethic. Motivational and inspirational prints never really went away in the workplace, but they have evolved over the years.
Today’s Designs Lean More Toward Inspiring Positive Qualities
Over the decades, advances in printing technology have allowed for much greater scope and creativity in the making of motivational and inspirational prints for the workplace. And while the occasional poster exists to exhort employees to follow a particular procedure, in general the sentiments expressed on them are more geared toward promoting positive feelings and good morale, often with a soupçon of humor. They are there to remind people that they are workers, but they are human too, and to give employees a greater sense of cohesiveness and of everyone being in it together.
What to Consider When Choosing Motivational Art for Your Office
When choosing motivational and inspirational prints for the workplace, you need to consider both the aesthetic qualities in terms of font and designs, and the content of what is written on them. Both should make sense in the context of your work environment. Generally, the more formal workplace will benefit from choosing more traditional aesthetics and content, while informal workplaces may choose more whimsical designs and wording with more humor and less formality. Fortunately, there are plenty of options from which to choose, including prints promoting self-confidence, encouraging expansion of ideals, and supporting positivity.
Motivational prints have been an element of office décor for a long time, and with good reason. They influence behavior and promote company values, while encouraging employees and building cohesion within the workforce. With many outstanding designs from which to choose, I encourage you to browse our collection and make sure you share this post with your work colleagues.
Interested in volume or custom orders? Contact us today and I’d be happy to help you out!
A version of this article also appeared here on Medium.