Ambient Scents Are Becoming Popular In Workplaces

Surveys have found that employees are looking for cleaner work environments, and ambient scents are helping soothe that concern.

ambient scent
Photo: Prolitec

By Heather Lane

In a post-pandemic world with Americans spending approximately 90% of their time indoors, sanitization and air quality are now at the forefront of minds for facilities management companies.  And while companies are embracing extensive cleaning measures there’s one sense that is often overlooked, yet right under our nose.

People can’t see clean. But they can smell it.

“Ninety-three percent of people say that a bad odor will negatively affect their impression of an organization, and more than half of individuals will assume a property is dirty if it doesn’t smell good,” says John Mattioli, CEO of Giant Enterprises.

This Atlanta-based facility management company serves more than 6,000 clients, providing facility services and ambient scent to a variety of buildings, from multi-residential properties and fitness centers to health care and more. In each facility they manage, ambient fragrances are now a cornerstone when it comes to helping people breathe easier after the pandemic.

“Commercial scenting services provide better quality air in one’s facility,” adds Mattioli.

He’s not alone in this assessment. With people returning to workplaces after what seemed an interminable hibernation, those responsible for managing office spaces are also looking to scent as a way to welcome people back.

“People are thinking about cleanliness in a totally different way. So we wanted a crisp, clean smell to give people a sense that when they’re walking in here, they’re safe,” says Rene Merino, who manages a coworking space called The Warehouse in New Orleans. His facility was wrestling with an odor issue from the adjacent restaurant’s trash rooms. The lingering malodors left his community with a sour taste in their mouth—and nose.

With a goal to create an added sense of reassurance, Merino sought out global ambient scent provider, Prolitec. This industry giant provides not only sustainably-sourced fragrances, but full service to customers in more than 80 countries. Their technology is computer controlled, efficient, hypoallergenic, and their proprietary fragrances use sophisticated odor-neutralizing technology to take out unwanted odors on a molecular level.

“The added value that not only people work in a clean place, but they feel they are working in a clean place is priceless,” says Merino.

Yet the perception of cleanliness and the feeling of security in returning to workplaces is only half the battle. People are now developing a keener interest in the concept of wellness and companies are taking notice.

Parkway Property Investments, a commercial real estate company that owns, operates, and manages institutional quality commercial office assets throughout the Sunbelt region, has closely followed the evolution of consumer expectations and the impact on the facilities industry.

“There has been a shift in the mindset of property management to not only manage a building well but put more of a hospitality lens in place to view how the buildings are managed. Scent was/is a big component that is part of that hospitality mindset,” says Vanessa Brunson, Senior Property Manager with Parkway in Houston, TX.

Parkway chose “Blue Wood” and “Mandarin Zest” fragrances for the common areas in their buildings. This crisp citrus scent emphasizes a sense of cleanliness, while the modern wood scent creates a warm and elegant atmosphere, enhancing people’s sense of well-being and welcome.

“Scent is the most impactful and memorable of the senses. A scent component is needed if your company wants to set itself apart from other management companies,” Brunson added.

The growing appetite for wellness in indoor spaces is a global trend.

Smarter Working is an initiative headquartered in Belgium that has launched the EASI framework.  EASI is an acronym for “Energize Author Share Interact.” The platform provides actionable guidance on how to improve worker productivity and health. It covers how spaces can best support conditions such as air, temperature, light, sound, movement, materials, and technology.

“The concept of wellness is now firmly a boardroom matter,” says Philip and Jan Vanhoutte, founders of the EASI concept. “The need is highlighted by Leesman, the leading Workplace Satisfaction survey that shows that many well-being facets rate very poorly [on a scale of 100]—air quality not much better at 45%.”

The study is backed by other industry experts and research. Ambius, a division of Rentokil North America and a leading provider of ambient scent under their Premium Scenting brand, recently released a study that found that 60% of workers would take a lower-paid job if it had a healthier working environment than their current job and 42% said unpleasant odors created a stressful and anxious work environment.

“It’s all about the experience,” says Brunson of Parkway. “Scent adds another dimension to our tenant and visitor’s experience.”

“Pleasant fragrances lift moods, positively influence emotions, and connect people with nature,” adds the Vanhouttes of Smarter Working.

“Fragrances are effective at reducing stress, enhancing moods, and improving productivity on the job,” chimes Mattioli of Giant Enterprises.

The consensus is clear—scents are playing a growing role in the world of facilities management. People are returning to public spaces with a shifted perspective. They expect clean, they expect welcoming, and they expect wellness. Businesses across all industries can leverage ambient scent to meet these expectations.

Lane is VP of Commercial Marketing for Prolitec. She and her team support the global partner network and the company’s domestic operations in sharing the wonderful world of scent with people around the world. Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Heather comes from an art background and in her spare time enjoys operating a local venue and rebuilding historic homes.

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