- A new study by Interserve, a London-based workspace firm, studied “thinking” employees in the workplace and found that the most minute changes in certain stimuli, such as color and smell, can change the way these workers perform, reports Bloomberg BNA. The “thinking” employees were identified as those whose jobs require cognitive skills, such as in HR, IT, publishing, accounting and government.
- Researchers in the study, Decoding the Work Experience: How the Working Environment Shapes Views, Behaviors and Performance, said that smells are generally known to have effects on people’s physical, mental, emotional and the cognitive functions. They point out that scents like jasmine, lavender and baked bread are known to relax people, whereas peppermint and rosemary are known to stimulate cognitive performance. Interserve said companies can use particular scents for different workplace activities, such as networking, break-out sessions or brainstorming.
- Color has similar effects on workplace performance as scent, said Interserve. The study points out that a blue, or “cool” color, work area with LED lighting increases alertness and workers’ ability to process information. As for noise, Interserve said the human voice can be a distracting sound in the workplace.
The study referred to another, and more nontraditional, aspect of environmental stimuli on workers’ behavior: An open and/or office-free workplace, much like the one General Electric Co. built in Cincinnati. Interserve said work spaces without physical boundaries and meeting rooms with glass walls can connote trust in the workplace, which, in turn, promotes employee engagement and retention.
There are several other reasons an HR department might want to consider an office makeover, including wanting to avoid gender bias or helping employees with debilitating diseases. Employers always expected to be legally complaint with rules regarding handicap accessibility, and it may also be in their best interest to increase productivity by experimenting with some of the aspects discussed in this report.