Workplace aroma: Can a signature scent boost office appeal?

You may not remember your office ― but there’s a good chance your nose does. As many know, scents and smells are one of the most powerful sense sensations we can have, with an unusual ability to trigger memories and emotions.

Well, now your office manager is hip to that, too, and an increasing number of office spaces and work common areas are being diffused with  “signature scents” ― especially as employers try to squash the old stuffy connotations of the office and replace them with new, evocative associations.

“Scent has the power to transform the way we feel, think, work and play,” writes the scent marketing agency Air Aroma. “The right office scent can transform a commercial office or space, creating a more pleasant environment, encouraging employee efficiency and reducing stress.”

There is some science to this: essential oils have shown to have subtle cognitive effects on things like mood, anxiety and focus ― no surprise then that essential oil diffusers are often considered the best way to create an office scent. Air Aroma even suggests that their research found a 54 per cent reduction in clerical errors when working in an environment that smells of citrus.

The idea is borrowing, in part, from luxury real estate. High-end buildings have been infusing their spaces with scent for some time, even pumping it straight in through the air ducts. (This goes the other way, too ― with at least one company offering to bring the office enviro home via an office-scented candle line.)

This all comes with words of caution from workplace experts, though: don’t overdo it, and make sure your employees are on board, because many workers are scent-sensitive.

“Any companies considering introducing scents to the workplace should do so with inclusivity in mind,” media strategist Sarah Holland said. “Introducing luscious scents to an office seems like a harmless way to make the space more enticing in our hybrid working culture, but it could have a real impact on certain workers.”

Content written by Kieran Delamont for Worklife, a partnership between Ahria Consulting and London Inc. To view this content in newsletter form, click here.