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A workspace design for the 5 senses

Imagine entering an office and hearing the sound of fresh water flowing silently while you feel the soft carpet underneath your feet. You proceed to the washrooms and smell some of the most amazingly fragrant gardenia while your eyes cherish the pastel colored walls. And while you wait in the lounge, you are served fresh brewed coffee in a chocolate brown mug.

Our senses play a vital role in how we experience and respond to the environment around us. As soon as we enter a space, our brain interprets its quality and comfort based on how it looks, feels and smells; what we hear; and whatever we might taste. In addition to interpreting each sense independently, our brains also combine them into a multisensory experience. The sensation that these sensory organs experience influences our mood, our behavior and ultimately our well-being in the workspace.



Sight One of the easiest senses to take care of is the sense of sight. When we select colors for a space, we need to be well aware of the objective that the particular room is going to help us achieve. Colors can have a tremendous influence on our mood, productivity and mental well being. Lighting is as important as the color scheme of a space. Natural light improves our productivity while poor lighting can cause people to become extremely lethargic, irritable and generally lack energy, which is very disruptive in the workplace.



Smell One of the most rarely focussed on senses is that of smell. Scents play a very important role in harnessing most of our daily emotions. According to a Kimball white paper, lemon scents have been tied to improved performance on cognitive/mental tasks generally and better worker moods. The smell of peppermint has been linked to improved performance and speed of execution of tedious clerical tasks. Smelling rosemary enhances prospective memory, which is our ability to remember a future event or commitment while several scents have been shown to reduce anxiety levels including sweet orange.



Taste The inclusion of the taste sense in a space comes by including and enhancing the hospitality. Providing fantastic food, coffee, beer, and other beverages makes the workspace a social space, showing to your staff and visitors that you not only care about them but that the workspace is more than just a place to work. Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin once commanded his architects and office designers that “No one should be more than 200 feet away from food.”


Sound Sound is the second most commonly considered sense after sight. Acoustic has become an important topic for organisations with the rise of open and collaborative workspaces. Sound privacy is not only critical in meeting rooms but also in deep work zones and brainstorming nooks. Playing ambient music in the workspace is another way of making sure sound positively impacts workspace productivity. The sound of nature especially promotes tranquility while keeping the unwanted noise at bay.



Touch We can focus on this sense by focusing on furnishings, floorings, fixtures, materials, etc. Hard materials are considered to have a cold influence while softer materials are more calming and inviting. Balancing hard with soft and rough with smooth, will ensure that both practicality and relaxation are achieved while our workforce remains fully engaged.



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