The Japanese have a long tradition of using aroma. They have respect for it. Perhaps then, it is not so surprising that it should be the Japanese who have most easily accepted the logic of using aroma as a management tool. in 1985 research into the mind-altering effects of essential oils was started in Japan by Dr Shizuo Torii who, by measuring brain waves, showed that some aromas can have a stimulating effect and some can have a relaxing effect. Things have progressed somewhat since then, and to my knowledge there are now fifty aroma diffusion systems in place in both commercial and municipal offices.
Japan's third largest construction company, the Shimizu Corporation, has specialist engineers who incorporate aroma systems into the new 'intelligent' buildings which use aroma to improve efficiency and relieve stress. In one bank, designed by the company, lavender or rosemary are diffused into the customer area, while lemon or eucalyptus are used to keep workers alert at their VDUs.
Commercial diffuser systems are capable of pumping different aromas into the atmosphere at different times of the day, to relax or stimulate as required. The fragrance company Takasago have shown that keyboard punching errors fell by 20 per cent when lavender was diffused in the atmosphere, by 33 per cent with jasmine and 54 per cent with lemon.
By changing the aromas around periodically, smell sensitivity (tolerance) - and efficiency - can be maintained.
another Japanese construction company which has taken aroma to heart is the Kajima Corporation, which now also sells aroma diffusion systems.
In their state-of-the-art 'intelligent' head office in Alaska, Tokyo, sensors monitor atmospheric conditions like temperature and humidity and the building's computers blend appropriate fragrances which are diffused into the different areas of the building, taking the time of day and the male-female ratio of any one department into consideration.
While a lavender and rose combination create a calming, stress-relieving and blood-pressure reducing effect for general purposes, the after-lunch drowsiness is combatted, they say, with lemon and jasmine, which have a refreshing and reviving effect. Many combinations of aroma are possible, and Kajima are using lemon in the morning, floral and wood aromas during the day to maintain a relaxed atmosphere, with a final flourish of lemon at the end of the day to give workers the boost they need to fight their way home through the traffic.
And after a good night's sleep they can be woken by Seiko's Hattori clock, which releases the aroma of pine and eucalyptus just before the alarm goes off - to create the impression of waking in a lovely natural environment, and to invigorate the worker to get going again.
The logic focusing aroma to keep workers happy, relaxed and efficient has not been lost on certain American companies either. In Ohio, the 10.000 square feet offices of Frederick's Inc - hair care distributors - have been fitted with an adjustable aroma-diffusion system. Their chairman, Fredrick Holzberger says ' I have seen major attitude change'
Reference: The Fragrant Mind: Valerie Ann Worwood
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