Over the last decade organisations have become increasingly aware of the effect that the work environment has on productivity and in recent years, we have seen an increased interest in the working conditions of employees and how this affects productivity. In particular, office designers have looked at the impact of the senses, paying close attention to lighting, temperature control and noise levels.
Scents can significantly affect office performance
Despite the recent improvements in workplace environment conditions, the importance of smell has been somewhat overlooked when it comes to workplace productivity. In a recent study entitled ‘Decoding the workplace experience: how the working environment shapes views, behaviours and performance’, leading experts from Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) and the Centre for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa) argue that scents can significantly affect work output in the office.
Scents can directly impact cognitive performance and workplace productivity whilst also influencing physical, emotional and mental health issues. The report suggests that by changing the smells in an office, business leaders will witness an easy and immediate improvement in workplace productivity.
Key scents to increase office productivity
- Rosemary – Rosemary is credited with helping clear thinking, improving memory and energising your mind.
- Jasmine – In addition to helping relaxation, Jasmine can ease tension and nerves.
- Lemon – All citrus smells offer positive benefits. Grapefruit can help fight mental exhaustion, lemon is uplifting, orange can ease stress and bergamot oil is even used to treat depression.
- Lavender – A very calming scent, lavender relieves stress and reduces anxiety.
- Peppermint – Minty smells are energising and refreshing. Peppermint is said to aid concentration and stimulate the mind.
- Cinnamon – The stimulating properties in cinnamon can help fight mental fatigue and improve concentration and focus.
These scents can be introduced broadly over an entire office space, helping to build an organisation’s brand identity or can be mixed in various areas to distinguish between different working conditions. In a collaborative space, for example, a high-energy scent could be used such as black pepper. Whilst in a space used for individual tasks, lemon scents could help to boost concentration and productivity.
Not only can scents improve performance, they can also provide health benefits. Essential Oils have anti-viral anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which keep germs at bay, which is particularly beneficial in an environment where there are a lot of people.
Bad smells have a negative impact
It should also be noted that bad smells in the office not only negatively affect performance, but can also have health risks which will further impact productivity. Synthetic scents, caused by products such as rubber flooring, deodorants and aftershave, can pose serious health risks such as migraines nausea, tightening of the throat, and respiratory impairment. This is especially common amongst sufferers of asthma and other respiratory related illnesses.
Ensuring that the smells in your office is not negatively impacting your workforce, and improving it with scents which have a positive impact on cognitive performance, is an easy, cheap way to boost your business’ productivity. Indeed, most employees would consider a less-stressful and pleasant smelling workplace a benefit.