Creating a calm and productive workplace

With COVID-19 restrictions being eased around Australia, companies and organisations are in the tricky spot of bringing people back to a physical workplace and keeping them from leaving.

Organisations are having to rethink how they retain employees and reimagining work and meeting spaces that promote Zen in the workplace can help employees improve focus, performance, and overall happiness. 

Creating a calm and productive workplace using zen principles is about simplicity that incorporates natural elements that balance the five senses.

In part one of this series, we outline what roles sight and smell can play in the workplace.


A recent study found that people who work in spaces lacking windows, experience decreased vitality and health. The study concluded that these issues were connected to a reduced exposure to natural daylight, which affected sleep quality and the circadian rhythms regulated by experiencing daylight and darkness. To keep natural rhythms in sync through exposure of natural light, organisations can try open floorplans, limiting solid or opaque walls and/or installing a few glass walls and extra windows.

Humans are visual creatures and another way our moods can be lifted (or depressed) is through the colours we see. Generally no one finds the bright artificial lighting and white walls of a hospital relaxing. Hence, a splash of the right colours through the workspace can bring a sense of calm and balance. Colours which reflect nature and imbue a sense of grounding include shades of the sky, ocean, earth and stone should be considered in the workplace colour scheme.


Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful ways to trigger feelings and emotions. That may be one of the reasons why aromatherapy is finding its way into the workplace. Scents of nature (a garden for example) can help us de-stress or calm our nerves. As with certain colours, scents such lemon, rosemary, peppermint and lavender can reflect nature in the workplace.

That being said, there is something about breathing in fresh air and the fragrances of nature that recharges our batteries. So it’s no surprise that working outside can help us focus by reminding us of our connection to the natural world (and reminding us that there is a world outside the workplace). Adding a terrace or deck (or even a natural light filled room) where employees can work solo or collaborate and filling them with comfortable furnishings/plants can foster a sense of calm.