Why does scent matter in the workplace?

Architects, developers, and engineers design buildings and entire complexes using appealing elements of our senses:

Sight

As in height, sleekness, and visual design of a building.

Sound

Limiting excess noises and echoes to provide for focus and productivity or amplifying sound as done in concert halls or arenas.

Touch

Is it made of glass, wood, angles, textured or soft and luxurious?

Taste

Do you notice a salty/fishy taste near a harbor? Metallic taste near an active volcano emitting volcanic fog? Restaurants use red walls and low lights to create ambiance which “makes” their food taste better — compare a fancy restaurant experience to the same dinner for takeout. Still good — but is it as good? What accounts for this difference? Could it be the mixture of other scents coming from the kitchen making the entire restaurant smell differently than your home?

What about smell?

How does the scent of something impact our daily lives and do we even realize that scent is indeed affecting us?

The quality and components of the air we breathe have an almost immediate impact on how well our bodies operate, due to our limbic system and its direct effect on our emotions and bodily systems.

Just think how you feel when you walk past a bakery or a steakhouse, for example, and the feelings that certain smells invoke, either pleasant or unpleasant. Have you ever been in a mall and suddenly smelled freshly baked cookies? Does that wonderful scent impede your ability to concentrate on your current task? What does your family home, holidays, favorite pet smell like?

What would inhaling a skunk scent, or rotting fish do to worker efficiency? We have all gotten into an elevator with someone wearing too much cologne or perfume. How did it affect you? Did you get a headache or find it difficult to concentrate on your current conversation? Did you notice after about 30 seconds your body grows more accustomed to the scent, yet the scent remains while your body is working hard to protect and prevent you from feeling the scent’s effects.

One of the reasons people react so violently to scent could be from all the additives, chemicals, and other dilution ingredients, such as ethanol, poured into fragrances. In fact, recent reports contest that up to 80% of the chemical components in popular fragrance products are protected by trademarks and therefore do not have to be disclosed, yet contain known carcinogens. Scary to think what all we are inhaling in these products!