Poo! – what’s that smell?

How the right aroma can improve productivity in the office

It’s been proven that investing in an office space which has the right look and feel is likely to produce happier and more effective staff.

But as well as the colours we choose and the style of furniture we opt for, we also need to think about the smells we’re exposed to.

Hotels realise that we’re more likely to spend time in a place which smells divine, so many of the top hotels now have their own fragrance. Retailers also know that some smells will make us more likely to spend money, which is important stuff.

As I write this, I have a scented candle burning and while it smells nice, is it making me more productive? If you work in an office or work from home, can the smells we’re exposed to help us to be happier and more alert?

Here’s a guide to explain how different aromas affect our mood, and which ones will help to keep us relaxed, alert, productive and ready for anything.

How do smells affect our mood?

I’m not ashamed to say that I often smell my washing when it comes out of the washing machine. Who doesn’t love that smell? For some people, the smell of cut grass instantly makes them smile.

But how does a smell affect our mood?

Well of all the senses and there are five not six, smell is the most sensitive. When we’re born, smell is the first sense to develop and our noses have as many as six million odour-detecting cells.

When those cells get a whiff of something, a message is sent up to the memory part of your brain. It’s why I can no longer wear what was my favourite perfume. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I began using a new perfume. I had horrible morning sickness and after that, the smell of that perfume made me feel sick.

Which scent should I choose?

With the possibility of evoking such strong feelings, how do you choose the best aroma for your office? Well there is no one scent fits all because our mood changes throughout the day and the work we need to do changes too.

It’s a good idea to have a selection of scents and remember that personal preference will also play a part.

In an office or shared workspace, you will need to consider if anyone has a strong dislike of a smell. It won’t be motivational for them if they have their hands over their nose to escape the smell of coffee for example.

Here are some scents to choose from that can help reduce stress, improve productivity and generally lift your mood:

  1. Improve problem solving

Some days we find it easy to focus on the task in hand and other times we can’t decide what to have for breakfast, let alone anything else. But there are smells which can help us to remain focused.

Coffee and rosemary – By introducing a room spray or diffuser with a rosemary or coffee scent, you can improve your memory, ability to complete analytical tasks and levels of alertness.

  1. Improve productivity

Lemons – When those deadlines are calling, drinking lemon tea or having the smell of lemons in the office is going to reduce the number of errors made and it can re-energise you. In fact, a Japanese study found that workers made 54% less typing errors when smelling lemon.

Citrus – And if lemon isn’t your citrus fruit of choice, other citrus scents will also help to shorten your response times.

Jasmine – Choose this scent to re-energise both your body and your energy levels.

  1. Reduce stress

All of us experience stress at some level most days and keeping stress levels manageable is an important part of maintaining good mental health. Working with a difficult customer or having a tight deadline can increase stress levels. The following scents can be used to reduce them.

Pine – This has been shown to elevate our mood. A study on rats found that the ethanolic extract in pine needles had an anti-depressant effect. Now clearly, we’re not rats but I’d say it’s enough to go on.

Lemongrass – Smelling lemongrass can have an immediate effect on people. It reduces stress and eases anxiety. So, it would make sense to have this scent available in your workplace at all times.

  1. Improve alertness

Working long hours isn’t really suited to us humans, we need to take regular breaks. But when something needs our attention, we have to stretch ourselves and keep focused for longer. Perhaps we’re working at a time when we’re normally asleep.

Here are the scents to opt for if you need to stay awake and focused:-

Cinnamon – I’m a big fan of this on my porridge but I now know that the smell of cinnamon can create a heightened attention span.

Peppermint – This cool and fresh scent is also good for improving attention and motivation.

Ginger – For me, the smell of ginger makes me think of biscuits and Christmas but the aroma has also been found to fight fatigue and ease pain.

So, if you’re working shifts or revising for exams, perhaps one of these can help.

Making sense of it all

Clearly, having a lemongrass room spray isn’t going to eliminate all stress and a rosemary candle won’t mean that you become super human. But they can support other aspects of the workplace to make your business work better.

We love talking to people about how they can achieve their business goals. Come and see us at one of our offices in ChelmsfordCheamWansteadSaffron Walden and London City or give us a call.

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