The Best Scents For An Office Environment {Boost Your Brain With Aroma}

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The use of ‘functional fragrances’ designed to help us perform better in the workplace was identified as an area of special interest by the Global Wellness Trends Report of 2019. 

Like other elements of workplace design, aromas are being explored for their potential to create a better working environment, primarily for the benefit of office workers.

Utilising scent as a tool for business success is nothing new. Like a musical jingle, the sensory touch point of smell has been employed as a marketing tactic for many, many years.

Famously shopping malls employ floral scents to encourage potential customers to feel relaxed and slow down their movements, subsequently considering the idea of buying for longer and spending more

Scent can also be utilised to create a more focussed work environment amongst office workers.

In the UK, workspace designers Avanta have even commissioned the creation of an office fragrance designed to provoke innovation, motivation and inspiration amongst workers.

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash
Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

Research has shown that the strong neurological link between our smell receptors and parts of our limbic system (amygdala and hippocampus in the brain) can be used to influence our emotions, mood and ability to learn.

Think about how you perceive the smell of flowers from the garden, and now try to think back to the time when you first experienced this scent. 

It’s the prior association and conditioned response between a smell and the mood it causes that businesses are hoping to borrow for their benefit.

As an example of this association in action, the essence of coffee alone has been demonstrated to give a cognitive boost via increased alertness without the need for caffeine to be consumed. 

And now a growing body of evidence suggests that a positive mood brought on by smell association can help increase creativity and improve productivity.

Here’s a list of our own best stimulating scents for the office.

Which scents help stimulate better work in the office? 

Popular essential oils with sedative effects, such as clary sage and ylang-ylang, have the potential to influence a workforce by neutralising stress. And without doubt these have a place in the office apothecary.  

However, when the heat is on, and deadlines are fast approaching you might wish to use scents that stimulate the brains of you and your team to improve alertness and maintain focus.   

The best stimulating air scents for an office are: 

  • Rosemary:  Rosemary oil is available in three chemical compositions, cineole, camphor and verbenone. In particular the cineoloe chemotype (ct) has been demonstrated to reduce mental fatigue and improve short term memory by 5-7%
  • Peppermint: Peppermint is associated with experiences that invigorate the mind, promote concentration and stimulate clear thinking. 
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a bold scent most associated with fighting mental fatigue, improving concentration and sparking sustained focus.
  • Lemon: A Japanese study observed that workers made 54% less typing errors when working in an atmosphere infused with the scent of lemon. Ergo it is known for its invigorating and alertness raising properties.
  • Pepper Black: This spicy, sharp oil elevates mood and boosts stamina. 
  • Basil: Reduces the susceptibility to distractions and improves short term memory recall. 

How can I make my office smell good and boost productivity?

With an understanding of which scents are most likely to contribute towards improving our workflow, the question that next arises is how best to deliver them into the office atmosphere?

How can I make my office smell good? 

Essential oils are one convenient way of introducing aromas into the office, and cold air diffusion (nebulizing) systems help atomise and disperse these scents across large spaces. 

By introducing stimulating scents to the workplace you don’t only get the win of sparking creativity but also of masking bad smells (such as the communal kitchen area).  

Scents such as lemon or grapefruit can be used to neutralize unpleasant odors and also presents through an association with cleanliness. 

To circulate the aromas safely and effectively, there is a large selection of low-cost nebulizers available online, including some on Amazon that are packaged with a selection of stimulating essential oils to get you started. 

Nebulizers are the most suitable method of distributing aroma around an office as they remove the risks associated with flame fuelled oil burners, and can be automatically sett to disperse at a regular interval across the working day. 

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