© 2017-201 The RSA Japan Fellows' Network

Senses at Work:Improving the workplace via sensory stimulation

On 15th May, 12 RSA Fellows and 14 guests gathered at the offices of Victor Entertainment in Tokyo to explore new ways to improve the working environment. Presentations were given by Sanae Okazaki of Victor Entertainment (FRSA)  and Mariko Yoshida of Air Aroma Japan. Participants were the challenged to design their own ideal workspace. They will be polled in two months’ time to see how successful their initiatives have been.   

 

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Speakers: Sanae Okazaki JVCKENWOOD Victor Entertainment Corp.  FRSA

                 Mariko Yoshida Air Aroma Japan

 

Cities are widely regarded as stressful environments. This may be considered an uncontroversial observation, but it reflects the efforts of our species to adapt to a "new" environment. As urbanization only began in earnest after the industrial revolution, a significant number of people have been experiencing urban environments for only about 300 years, a very short time over the course of human history. Before the Industrial Revolution the concept of factory or office did not exist. It took decades before people noticed aspects of what they had left behind, and the idea of the public park was invented.

 

On this occasion RSA JFN focused on the theme of “improving the workspace via sensory stimulation”. We discussed how sounds and fragrances might improve an office atmosphere and thereby improve the efficiency and effectiveness of work.

 

Sanae Okazaki talked about the impact of playing recorded natural sounds on the atmosphere of a workspace, and how that may link to better professional outcomes. She described the sort of sound that is appropriate, how the sound is recorded, and how it should be played.

 

A CD generally captures sound within 20kHZ, which defines the conventional limits of human perception. But the range of natural sound goes well beyond these limits.

 

Victor Entertainment's High-Resolution Space Sound extends beyond 20kHZ and is therefore more similar to natural sound. It is clamed that this sound positively stimulates the nervous system and results in reduced stress, thereby contributing to a good atmosphere in the workspace.

 

It was interesting to consider that recordings in various places, different seasons and times of day might reproduce for an artificial workspace the natural ambience that once surrounded us in nature.

 

Mariko Yoshida then spoke about the effect of certain types of smell on improving a workspace environment, again linking to better job performance. Going beyond the improvement of workspace conditions, she has also been exploring the role of smell in corporate branding.

 

Every home has a characteristic smell, and this seems to be true of any place where you find people.

 

It is said that smell can evoke a memory more strongly than any other sense, and it is intriguing to consider how smell could be used to brand a company in the minds of the people who gather in its corporate spaces.

 

The role of the senses in creating a good workspace seems to be closely linked to bringing features of nature into the office. In the past, every Japanese office featured plants. And green leaves remain the most common natural motif in many contemporary offices. If soothing sounds and smells could be added to the appeal of greenery, it is easy to imagine how much more appealing an office space would become as a place to spend a number of hours each day.

 

As a discussion developed about how office spaces could be improved, many participants expressed concerns with the huge open-plan offices that are typical in Japan. They explore the possibilities of distinct personal, group, and common spaces to boost the refreshing impact of the work environment. That also led to views about the physical appearance of an ideal workspace, a place where the senses interact with sources of physical stimulation. Obviously, exactly how and where to apply each factor is crucial to the differentiation of personal and public space.

 

 

 

We were left with the conclusion that at the very least, light, sound and smell are key factors in creating the identity of any space, and contribute to how it is perceived and interpreted. Could these variables be used to create spaces without employing physical barriers? This was just one of the interesting questions to emerge from the discussion.

 

And the key factor in successfully harnessing these sensory opportunities seemed to be identifying ways to deliver mini-nature (nature in miniature) in the context of the office.

 

 

 

 

Some 70% of Japan's territory is covered in forest. The economic value of the timber and other applications of Japan's wood has been decreasing year by year and the future is bleak. But where nature is concerned, it is vital to think big as well as small. Forests are valuable by dint of being forests.

 

I conclude this report with the words of Margaret Mead, to thank everyone for their participation in a gathering of the still small RSA JFN:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

 

働き方改革:感性による快適なオフィス空間

          岡崎早苗 JVCKENWOOD Victor Entertainment Corp. FRSA

          吉田真理子 Air Aroma Japan

        

都市化が進むにつれて、そこに住む人々のストレスが増えていると言われている。今更と思うかもしれないが、都市化が始まったのは、産業革命以降なので、人類の歴史からすると、たかだか最近300年の事である。

産業革命以前には、工場、オフィスという概念すらなかった。

人々が職を求めて都市に移り住む様になって初めて環境の違いに驚き、かつて自分たちが住んでいた自然環境を恋しく思う気持ちから都市に公園が作られた。

 

今日のRSAjfnのイベントでは、オフィスの環境を5感による刺激で如何に快適にする事が出来るかという点に焦点を当てた。

今回は、聴覚と臭覚による刺激がどの様にオフィスの環境を良くしてその結果、仕事の効率を上げることが出来るかを検討して見た。

 

岡崎早苗さんは、オフィスである種の自然の音を流す事による環境向上と、仕事の効率アップに付いて具体的な例を挙げ話した。

良いオフィス環境を作る事が出来る音は、どの様な種類の音で、どの様に作られ、それらをどの様に流す事が、良い環境を作り仕事の効率にあげるかに付いて話した。

一般的なCDが人間が感知できる20khzまでの音のレンジで制作されるのに対して、自然の中の音は、そのレンジをはるかに超えている。Victor Entertainmentが提案するハイレゾリューション・サウンドは、20khzより高い周波数の自然の音を録音し再現する事により、人々の神経に刺激を与えそれによりストレスを軽減させて快適なオフィス環境を作る方法について語った。

録音する音の場所、季節、時間を変える事により、人工的なオフィス空間に色々な意味でより自然に近い音を流そうとする試みは、興味深い。

 

 

吉田真理子さんはある種の匂いをオフィスで流す事のオフィスの環境アップとそれによる仕事の効率を上げる効果について話した。

匂いがオフィスの環境を良くするだけではなく、その匂いを会社のブランディング、アイデンティティに繋げようという試みは興味深い。それぞれの家には、それぞれの匂いがあるように、それぞれの場所には、それぞれの匂いがある。

五感の中で匂いが一番記憶を思い起こさせるという説がある。そうだとすれば、ある種の匂いを嗅ぐ事によって、その会社を思い起こさせる事は、興味深いブランディングの方法だと思う。

 

感性による快適なオフィス空間作りは、いかに自然環境をオフィスの持ち込めるかという事に尽きる様な気がする。かつては、植栽をオフィスに飾る事が流行った時もあった。未だ自然のメインのイメージとしては、植栽/緑があると思う。それと並行して、音や匂い、あるいは他の自然を思い起こさせる刺激がオフィス環境をどの様に良くしていけるかは、オフィスで長い時間を過ごす者としては、興味深い。

 

そのあとのディスカッションでは、かな