The study found that lighting, the noise level and the height of the room figure prominently in creative processes. Most people prefer dimmer light for creative activities. The reason for this could be that excessively bright light tends to inhibit the feeling of freedom that fosters creativity. Midlevel noise causes a disconnect in human thought processes that actually encourages abstract thinking and, in turn, creativity. And high ceilings prompt people to think more freely. Ceiling height is not the only environmental factor; temperature also has an effect on inventiveness at work. The study showed that a temperature of around 26° C to 27° C lends itself best to creative tasks. Other aspects of environmental psychology can reinforce a person’s power to concentrate. Whereas high ceilings promote imaginative thought, standard-height and low ceilings enhance the worker’s ability to focus. In these settings, employees are better able to perform concrete and intricate tasks that require a high level of concentration.
The right scent influences our work
Fragrances are key environmental elements that have a powerful impact on well-being, work performance and stress levels. According to the study, a cinnamon-vanilla scent is particularly conducive to creative activities. Citrus scents enhance the ability to focus. A peppermint scent can help ward off fatigue. Explaining how scents can be made to work in the workplace, the author of the study, Yue Pan from Fraunhofer IAO, says, “Fragrances can be used selectively in an office environment – for example, in individual rooms, the foyer or in a lounge – to distinguish rooms and promote a certain type of performance. However, areas in which employees dwell for longer periods are best kept odorless.” In contrast to the importance of natural and artificial lighting, the relationship between scents and performance is largely unexplored.
Düfte sind wichtige Raumelemente, die das Wohlbefinden, die Arbeitsleistung und das Stresslevel stark beeinflussen. Bei kreativen Tätigkeiten hilft laut der Studie insbesondere Zimt-Vanilleduft. Um die Konzentrationsfähigkeit zu fördern, können zitronenhaltige Duftstoffen eingesetzt werden. Gegen Ermüdung kann beispielsweise Pfefferminzduft helfen. Wie der Einsatz von Düften in der Arbeitsumgebung konkret funktionieren kann, erklärt Yue Pan vom Fraunhofer IAO und Autorin der Studie: »In einer Büroumgebung kann man Düfte punktuell nutzen, z.B. in Einzelräumen, Eingangsbereichen oder in einer Lounge, um Räume zu charakterisieren und bestimmte Leistungen zu fördern. Bereiche, in denen sich Mitarbeitende länger aufhalten, sollten aber grundsätzlich geruchsneutral bleiben.« Im Gegensatz zur Bedeutung von Licht und Beleuchtung ist der Zusammenhang zwischen Duft und Leistungsfähigkeit bisher so gut wie unerforscht.
Tomorrows working environment - where will the journey take us?
What is tomorrow’s office going to look like? This study makes a strong point that office designers will have to adapt spaces to the individual needs of each employee. Digital technologies can help with that. This study sketches out a picture of what the future could hold in store. A connected ecosystem that links IT tools with workplace and personal sensors could serve to collect data on performance, well-being, stress, job tasks and the prevailing environmental conditions. This data could then be analyzed anonymously for the feedback to be funneled to employees. In time, this ecosystem could get better acquainted with its users and their individual parameters. It could then recommend or prompt the room’s environmental controls to make adjustments to provide the optimum setting for the tasks and situation at hand.