It’s no secret that we often associate certain smells with specific feelings and experiences. When you smell a rich perfume you might think of luxury, and when you sniff a coworker’s divine lunch you may be reminded of your own hunger.
But is it possible for certain smells to inspire productivity?
According to some researchers, it is. Takasago, Japan’s largest producer of fragrances (who likely had a vested interest in the study), found that those who work with computers made 54% fewer typing errors when the workplace was scented with lemon, 33% fewer errors when they smelled jasmine, and 20% fewer mistakes with lavender in the air.
Experts at the University of Maryland Medical Center explain that smells can have a significant effect on our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. This is partly because the “smell” receptors in our noses communicate with parts of our brain that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. Simply put, we associate certain memories and emotions with particular smells.
Office managers wouldn’t be the first in business to use scent to evoke positive emotions. Retailers have been using “olfactive branding” for years. Hugo Boss for one uses a “musky smell with a little bit of citrus” to make customers feel more at home.
Apart from boosting our moods with emotional associations, certain scents can play a positive role physically. Researchers from Meikai University’s School of Dentistry in Japan found that lavender and rosemary noticeably decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. And according to WebMD, linalool, a substance found in lemons, helps tone down our flight-or-fight stress reflex.
So the next time you need to focus on work and keep the stress at bay, consider breaking out the essential oils.