The feedback in from intervention06 supported my objective to use sense in nature to enhance office workers’ mood and provide the feeling of being in the natural environment through scent. This evidence encourages me to develop my project further in order to archive my goal. Further feedback showed that scent in nature could provoke people to go out to admire natural environment. The feedback could be the evidence to show the organization and employee to be more consider on odor in the workplaces.
However, through the test, I discover what should improve and see the limitation that I have to figure out the way to address it.
I have a strong motivation to develop my idea scent and test whether it could help people relax. To archive this, I have to contact, join the workshop and collaborate with scent designer that I’ve already contacted and plan to meet her when I go back to Thailand. The reason that I focus more in Bangkok is I familiar with Bangkok people and culture more than here. So that will help me to dig deeper and find the approach easier. Then I could apply to other places If I got a strong support. As I’m in London now I still continue to research further and I’ll try to contact more stakeholder here.
Last 2 weeks I contacted Prin Lomros, founder and perfumer artist of Pryn Parfume to pitch my idea and asked for some suggestion about my project. Fortunately, I got a reply from him last week that he was in Devon and will come to London this week, we could meet to talk more detail. Finally, I met him today!
He commented that my idea could be possible he completely agree that smell could improve people’s mood. However, my project it needed a lot of time and test to develop the smell. The concern is about offices, I could start with the small-scale office because it is easy to control the smell.
The scent is another medium to communicate with people which directly affects people’s emotion. So I need to have a clear brief of what I want to communicate to others and translate it to scent, taking time to develop that scent to communicate.
Selecting scent should consider weather!
Perfumer and scent designer create scents in different goal. Scent designer creates scents by client brief to pleased other. But for perfume, a signature scent is important than a mass smell.
Smelling the same odor every day can make people feel bored and could increase stress.
I created intervention based in London and Bangkok.
This intervention asked target audiences working in the work environment to smell the selected scents and describe their feelings. The objective is to investigate whether scents could make people relaxed and connect to the natural environment. And also explore which kind of scent shows the most effective on people’s emotion regarding relaxation.
Due to I didn’t get any response from the offices in London. I decided to test my intervention in the library where students concentrated and had a high level of stress. Five students were asked to smell 4 scents and describe their feeling.
Feedback participant 1: my synthetic scent — fresh flower – relaxed
participant 2: lavender — put in the bath when younger – relaxed
participant 3: Thai aroma — massage oil – familiar & relax
participant 4: Thai aroma — open spaces but the second one make her relax the most relaxed like bath
participant 5: grass and soil — mud, being in the forest or
in monsoon season
I contacted Thai creative group head at CJ Worx Thailand to collaborated with me to test my intervention with office workers in Bangkok. After I told him briefly about the background, the objective of my project and how to test, he was interested and accept my proposal.
Office workers were asked to smell 3 scents in the workplace. I couldn’t test with the scent I made so I change into leaves.
3 scents are;
soil and moss (real)
leaves that have in Thai forest
Thai aroma spray (combined with lavender, citrus, jasmine, and some Thai herbs)
Feedback from 3 office workers.
Feedback participant 1: Thai aroma — fresh/ a bit sour – relaxed
participant 2: Thai aroma — herb – fresh
participant 3: Thai aroma — fresh – relaxed – release stress a bit
Overall they can’t smell the first scent remind them of soil and they don’t like. They can’t smell the second scent due to my collaborator just put the didn’t tear the leaves before putting inside.
Everybody loves the third scent because they feel familiar with and it fresh.
Every participant recommended soft and mild scent (but not to light until can’t smell). This intervention showed the connection between scent and memories led to emotion. It also showed the difference of individual perception with was depended on culture and experiences. Personally, I love soil and grass smell and Thai aroma smell. This 2 scents could help me relax. But I thought that I couldn’t smell Thai aroma that long because of the scent quite strong meanwhile scent of soil and grass made me think of being in the park which I can spend a long time with this smell.
These 2 interventions failed from my expectation that the real nature scent could make people feel the most relaxed. Due to it was the quick test didn’t take a long time to see the effect in the long term. What I learned from this test is I should assume the scent from what I like. Many people love the smell of soil after raining but in this test 4 people complained about the scent of soil — Not everybody like soil smell (3 Thai, 1 Chinese). I planned to develop this test by selecting new scents that more related to people that I will test. The next plan is try to contact some office to test and gain more feedback.
Finally, Chalida, scent designer from Thailand contact me back after I contact her last 2 weeks.
I explain the background and objective of my project to her and ask if my idea could be possible (replicate the smell of the natural environment and integrate into the office to enhance office workers’ mood and work environment).
She told me that the concept of using smell to influence target audiences was used a lot in “Ambient Marketing”. For example, some supermarket used the ambient scent of melon to make the customers more enjoyable and spend more time in the supermarket which increased the chance of spending more money (also depended on others factors). In term of relaxation and the reduction of stress, She said smell could help but if combined with other senses it would be more effective.
She said my project could be possible. The scent should be used for the whole office more than just for the individual, The important thing is that the selected scent shouldn’t be too strong. It should be used as an ambient scent that blend in the environment. In addition, the clear brief of scent will help to create the unique scent easier. To illustrate, there is various type of ‘Forest’, the smell of tropical forests including soil, grass, and humidity. In contrast, the smell of pine forests including pine and coldness.
I told her that I tried to make the forest scent but it smelled artificial. She told me that the real production also used synthetic materials called ‘accords’ which are the mix of raw materials. Significantly, each scent should be light and soft and it needed time to develop scent to replicate the natural environment.
However, to apply this study into offices, it depends on the organizations and employers whether they want to invest money on it and their budgets. If they realize that it could benefit their employee which lead to increase their productivity they might approve.
I also asked her how to test smells with people. She suggested that drop the scent on cotton and put into the bottle. This method is suitable for test ambient scents (different from perfume testing).
I create a survey to ask 25 office worker about their work environment with sound, smell and nature. The reason that I add sound to this survey because of the comment from Joke, project manager at Ogilvy last time that he loves to listen to music combined with the ambient nature sound to help him relax. This is an opportunity to investigate the effect of sound and smell on office worker emotion in the offices.
Some answer here:
Highlighting the important points from the feedback (25 people):
Plants in the offices 72% — No plants 24% — Few plants/One plants 4% — A lot of plants (home office)
More than half of the offices in this survey don’t have plants. The main reason is don’t have time to take care. Others reasons are no space and no window. One answer that surprised me was one office worker said she doesn’t like the plants on the desk, she prefers plants in the park or garden. Then I ask her how often she goes to the park? She laughed and said “seldom”. Her reason was lazy and had no time and if she has time, she’d rather do other activities.
Sound 96% — Listen to the music, nature sound, podcast 4% — Don’t listen to the music
Problem from sounds 88% — Colleagues speak too loud 12% — No
How pleasant sound help 64% — Concentration 20% — Enjoyable 12% — Decrease disturbed sound 8% — Relaxation
I quite surprised that sound didn’t help office workers to relax as what I thought. The biggest problem of sound in the office came from colleagues. The obvious thing is sounds were used when they want to concentrate on their works due to sounds could help them to reduce unpleasant noise in work environments. More than half of office workers put on their headphone to get away from the disturbing noise and what they listen was depended on taste, type of work and their mood. From this point, I think emotion control the sound we want to listen more than sound control our emotion.
Problem from smell 48% — No 24% —Too strong perfume 12% — Toile 8% — Food 8% —others
How pleasant smell help 84% — Relaxation 12% — Don’t know – just smell nice 4% — Don’t like smells (allergy)
What scent help for relaxation 40% — Nature 20% — Mild/Light 16% — Fresh 16% — Coffee 8% — Perfume
Office workers didn’t have any concern about smell that much. However, it’s clear that when talking about smell, most of them connected smell to relaxation. The most pleasant smell is nature smell. A lot of office worker voted smell after raining (some of them referred to the smell of soil and plants after raining) could help them relaxed and fresh (but they said they can’t smell while working in the office).
This survey shows me that even office workers have more problem with sound more than smell but when it comes to relaxation, people think of smell more than sound. Some of them tried to find some room sprays or diffuser to freshen their work environment. Organizations and employees shouldn’t overlook at this point and leave it just for the individual.
I joined the Open lab at Experimental Perfume Club with my attempt to create the perfume that smells like a forest in order to test if it could help people feel relax or give a feeling of the natural world. I described my ideal odor and got some advice from the perfumer but she couldn’t give a suggestion that much due to this was not the workshop (workshop is fully booked).
I tried to mix the scent of leaves, soil, water and some floral to create my own forest in the bottle. At that process, I was so excited and motivated. At the same time, it absolutely uncertain, I couldn’t imagine the smell when it has done. I was a bit worry that if it would work but the stronger feeling was passionate.
These are the list of my ingredients;
Oak Moss (Mossy)
When my scent was done, I was not sure if it worked or smelled like the real forest. But in my opinion, it seems artificial — just like ordinary perfume. I was a bit wonder because when I smell a particular scent, it smelled like real nature but when I mixed all the ingredients together it didn’t smell like nature and too strong.
I had a quick conversation with some perfumer there. I told them about my project and asked them that was it possible to create a scent that smells like the real natural environment. They all said yes. One perfumer told me the case study about using scent in the dining room to manipulate people’s feeling. They also gave feedback on my perfume that it’s a bit like forests, mossy and green. But it needed time to develop the scent if I want it to replicate nature. I decided to use this scent to test with people but I needed another thing that smells like the real nature to test too. So I decided to use the real natural elements to test and compare with imitated scent.
I have pitched my ideas to some offices in Bangkok and I got some feedback that really useful for my project.
I briefly told them about the background and objective of my project. Then pitched my idea of introducing scents that inspired by outdoor natural environments into the office to enhance workers’ emotion and provide the experience of nature through scent instead of real nature like live plants. I also add more option which integrates nature sound with the smell to strengthen the feeling of nature experience.
Boonasak Bunnahirun, the founder and executive creative director at Youngster (advertising agency in Bangkok)
He said he bought the idea of using with the smell to improve office environment but not for sound. Due to his employees always put their headphones listened to music that they like. I asked him will he use for the whole office or it should be for individual use because the smell is quite subjective, it depended on personal preference. In his opinion, it should be used for the whole office(small business). He also told me that he used to spray eucalyptus scent in the office but some employee didn’t like that smell so he had to stop using it. So it should be the agreement from all worker when selecting the scent. Regarding using scent for relaxation, he thought it depend on realistic of the smell if it smells like the real nature he believed that it will help to relax. I also ask additional questions about plants. He said he loved working in the natural environment but he couldn’t bring plants into office due to no time to maintenance so he put the small fake Christmas tree to help office more alive.
This book helped me to explore the power of scents and the effect of each scent on body and mind.
I found the positive effect of each scent on emotions. My project highlight on ‘stress relief’ that is also related to relaxing and calm. Some scents that smell totally different have an overlap on their effect on moods such as rose, jasmine, lavender, and sandalwood. I think their power will depend on personal taste.
This book also showed the concern of using scents that scents are based on an individual’s preference. So it gave information about how to use the scents at home which I could apply and find the possible way to use it in workplaces.
I have read the article about the effect of smell in the office. The ambient scents can positively generate good impressions to clients and visitors. It can also enhance employees’ mood which can result in more productive. Offices and organizations should not underestimate the power of scent in the work environment. However, it is important to ensure that the odor is not overpowering.
I found several offices improved their office environment, focusing on design, decorative, lighting, and other environmental factors but ‘smell’ seemed to be overlooked. In 2016, the survey by Savills and The BCO reported that 75% of 1,000 workers said that scent was important to them in the workplace (The BCO and Savills, 2016).
“Don’t be surprised if in 10 years’ time integrating scent into the office is as common as providing natural light or a bunch of flowers at reception to greet clients,” said Steve Lang, director in the commercial research team at Savills.
I also found a research showed ambient odor of orange in a dental office could improve mood in female patients (Lehrner et al., 2000). This could be the case study and supporting of using smell to improve the environment in order to enhance the emotion.
The study (above) shows the link between scent and emotion which we could to use in the office to create a healthier work environment in order to enhance office worker’s mood. A number of studies referred to essential oils as scents from nature. Personally, I supposed that essential oils can help for relaxation and stress relief. My favorite one is lavender which I always use before sleep. But in my study, I focus on more sophisticated smells that provide the feeling of the outdoor natural experience such as forest, beach, etc. At this point, I’ve already contact experts to give a feedback on my idea but I still waiting for them to arrange their time for me. Another point is that the period of using scent. When I use scent for relaxation, I didn’t use it all the time, I just used it for a while because if I smell it all the time it will turn to overpowering and negative impact on my emotion. The intensity of scent also important, average smells don’t usually generate a lot of notice but could effectively promote positive emotion. I need to find the right balance between each factor. Dealing with sense is very uncertain due to a lot of factors that couldn’t ignore.
Airey, R. (2001). Scent therapy. London: Lorenz.
Lehrner, J., Eckersberger, C., Walla, P., Pötsch, G. and Deecke, L. (2000). Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients. Physiology & Behavior, 71(1-2), pp.83-86.
Taylor, C. (2017). Wake up and smell the office – onoffice magazine. [online] Onofficemagazine.com. Available at: https://www.onofficemagazine.com/people/item/5054-wake-up-and-smell-the-office [Accessed 3 Nov. 2018].
The BCO and Savills (2016). [online] savills.com. Available at: http://pdf.savills.com/documents/What_Workers_Want_2016.pdf [Accessed 11 Nov. 2018].