This is an update of a previous blog in which we look at the smell in the workplace and how it may positively or negatively affect workplace productivity.
Managers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that offices can have on employee productivity. From layout to lighting and office plants, a number of factors have been found to have a dramatic effect on employee performance in the workplace.
Studies link pleasant smells to better performance:
- Smells impact our mood and how we behave:
Rachel Herz, an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University in the USA explained that odours can have a dramatic impact on our mood which – naturally – can affect how we think and act. Mood has been shown to influence creativity because when we’re in a positive frame of mind, we exhibit higher levels of creativity compared to our peers who are in a bad mood. When people were exposed to an odour they liked, creative problem-solving was found to be better than it was when they were exposed to an unpleasant odour.
- Smell impacts productivity and confidence levels:In one particular study, employees who worked in the presence of a pleasant-smelling air freshener reported higher levels of self-belief, set higher goals for themselves and were more likely to employ efficient work strategies compared to participants who worked in conditions where they weren’t exposed to any odours.
- Improved performance:
Pleasant odours have also been found to enhance vigilance during tedious tasks as well as improve performance on anagram and word completion tests. On the other hand, participants who were subjected to bad odours struggled to make judgement calls and had a lower tolerance for frustration.
- Enhanced alertness: A Japanese study found that specific scents can increase alertness which, in turn, results in higher productivity rates. When lemon oil was diffused through an office building, performance amongst data entry operators increased by 54%.
- Better focus:Research has shown that scents can be used to improve concentration levels and ward off mid-afternoon brain fog.
- Improved social behaviours: Pleasant odours are also more likely to improve our social behaviours – which is a distinct advantage when in an office full of people. Studies have revealed that when exposed to the scent of baking cookies or roasting coffee, we’re more inclined to help a stranger compared to when we’re not exposed to any scent at all
How you can use smell to improve affect productivity
If you’re looking to increase staff productivity, there are a number of scents which can help you to achieve this, with Premium Scenting from Initial.
- Rosemary encourages clear thinking, improves memory and energises the mind.
- Citrus: grapefruit can help to fight mental exhaustion, lemon is uplifting, orange can ease stress and bergamot oil can even be used to help treat depression.
- Lavender reduces stress and anxiety.
- Peppermint is energising and refreshing and can aid concentration and stimulate the mind.\
- Cinnamon can help to fight mental fatigue and improve concentration.
Want more information about the power of scent? Click here to read our blog on the power of scent, with a helpful infographic.
Malodour in the workplace
So if a pleasant odour can make people feel more positive and more productive, what about malodour in the workplace?
We know from research conducted by Initial on aircare in 2017 that odour and perceptions of hygiene are closely linked, and that disgust is the overwhelming emotion when experiencing an unpleasant bathroom smell. In addition,
- More than half of those surveyed said that unpleasant smells would lead them to think there was bacteria in the air
- Unpleasant-smelling bathrooms are frequently associated with uncleanliness (85%) and poor hygiene (82%)
Expectations of increased hygiene in the workplace
We also know that employees’ expectations of hygiene in the workplace have changed since the pandemic. In December 2021, Initial carried out one of the largest global hygiene surveys, specifically designed to focus on the impact that COVID-19 has had on hygiene attitudes and behaviours.
Reaching 20,000 respondents in 20 countries around the world – including South Africa – the Global Hygiene Reset Report explored expectations about hygiene and its effect on their well-being as a result of the pandemic.
One of the most crucial findings in the Reset report was that 89% of respondents who work in a shared workplace/building said it’s very important that their employer prioritises creating a safe and hygienic workplace.
It follows that if malodour is overwhelmingly perceived as unhygienic, employees – who now have far higher expectations of a hygienic workplace – would expect their workplace (and especially their workplace bathrooms) to smell good. Initial has a range of odour control solutions specifically designed for workplace bathrooms.
Contact Initial today for more information on creating pleasantly scented workplaces in which employees want to work,