Lighting & Aromatherapy On Productivity

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about design of a change-room:

I am working on a new change-room layout for our factory. I wish to know if there is any scientific evidence to suggest that lighting and aromatherapy (that will only be present on the change-room -not in the production areas) can lead to increased productivity in the workplace.

Signed, In For A ChangeĀ 

DearĀ In For A Change:

Obviously you are privileged to help design areas within your factory. That’s exciting and challenging because you must cope with so many ideas and, more importantly, with individuals of influence, who now or after a space is in use, voice their opinions. So I trust you can both initiate and incorporate planning that is creative and welcomed.With respect to your specific question:

Is there scientific evidence? Probably not. Vendors would like us to believe there is; that full spectrum lighting and plant-oils are good for our health and that good health is correlated with productivity. I’m all for natural lighting and air that is aromatic in the workplace, even if in only a changing room. My bet is that the physical-psychological effect is most positive when those involved have a say in choice those conditions, despite researchers who dispute the Hawthorne effect. Our site is focused on workplace communication and makes no claims in this area, and we welcome findings that you probably will unearth because of inquiry on this topic. My bias for ample stakeholder communication planning mean engaging managers and employees, and I’s sure mentioning that is not something new to you.

One source that you might have Googled is an article by Dr. Loretta Lanpier ND. CCN.HHP., Setting Up Your Office For “Health”. She states that “natural light increases productivity”, but I find no specific reference to supporting scientific research. Yet what she says makes sense to the topic of your question and to a related topic of air quality and might serve as background for decisions you will make. Therefore, Lampier’s words are next included in this response: Lighting: Studies suggest that natural light increases human productivity and reduces fatigue and stress. By simply replacing your antiquated fluorescent tubes with full-spectrum tubes, you can instantly enhance your environment and your well-being! Full spectrum lighting emits a natural, balanced spectrum of light that is the closest you can get to sunlight indoors. Based on years of study not only do they bring out true, vibrant colors but they can also ease eye fatigue, improve your mood, reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, slow aging of the retina and reduce glare.Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being. Not only does the aroma of the natural essential oil stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction, but the natural constituents (naturally occurring chemicals) of the essential oil are drawn into the lungs and can also supply physical benefit.Aromatherapy can help with a physical condition, can help with symptoms, can affect your mood, or help alleviate or temporarily eliminate stress or other psychological factors.

Scenting your office with Lavender essential oil is said to reduce computer errors at least 25%. The following is a good blend to use in the office (must have an aromatherapy diffuser): 2 drops of lemon, orange or bergamot; 2 drops of grapefruit; 1 drop ylang ylang, rose or neroli. Multiply your blend by 4 to obtain a total of 20 drops of your chosen blend. Add your oils to a dark colored glass bottle and mix well by rolling the bottle in between your hands. Add the appropriate number of drops from your created blend to your diffuser by following the manufacturer’s instructions. There are also many “recipes” on the Internet to use during the cold and flu season when “office-air” can be extremely contagious.Air Quality: The EPA informs us that 6 out of 10 buildings are “sick” and that indoor air quality is the United States’ number one environmental health problem.

A recent study by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture found that ionizing a room led to 52% less dust in the air, and 95% less bacteria in the air (since many of the pollutants found in the air reside on floating dust particles). The U.S.D.A. also performed another study to test the effectiveness of negative ionization at removing airborne Salmonella Enteritidis. The negative ions drastically reduced the airborne salmonella particles, prompting the following statement from the USDA. I recommend a negative ion air purifier for the office setting. These units are small enough to fit on a credenza or desk and are very modestly priced. It’s good to hear from those who help shape our workplaces. I hope you will make time to inform us of what you learn and plan. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden