Raising the issues of workplace odours can be tricky. Whether it’s a shared workspace, the office kitchen or a co-worker, finding the time and solution to solve the issue can quickly diffuse an uncomfortable work environment.
Food smells are one of the most offending odours in the workplace. Shared fridges, microwaves and rubbish bins can all add up to a weird smell that you can never seem to quite get rid of. Whilst unpleasant, food smells can be dealt with quite easily. One way to make sure that there isn’t an accumulation of smells is to be ruthless with the staff fridge. Implement a rule that every Friday at 5 pm, whatever is left in the fridge will be thrown away. That way, leftovers and open food won’t be left to grow mould when the owner forgets to take them home.
To tackle bin smells, empty bins at the end of every day. Make a rota so that it isn’t left to just one person, or add an incentive in so that there isn’t complaints or refusal. People will be more willing to empty the bin and take it to the rubbish collection point if they get to leave 10 minutes early or have a slightly longer lunch.
Whilst bad smells can be unpleasant, overbearing artificial odours can be just as bad. Some love them, some don’t, and everyone’s personal scent preferences can cause conflict. If there are strong air fresheners being used in the toilets or reception, it can often be extremely overbearing. Some people suffer from scent sensitivity and can react badly to strong artificial smells by getting headaches and sickness. Try and keep the scent as neutral as possible, and if the scent is on an automatic device, try and decrease the number of times it releases the scent.
Another issue can be a co-workers use of perfumes or scented lotions. Whilst it can be hard sitting next to a co-worker with a bad odour, sitting next to someone who smells really strongly of musty perfume or aftershave can be off-putting. If you can, try and talk to them and bring the issue up lightly. Whilst it can be uncomfortable at first, this is an important issue that needs resolving. It’s important to remember that situations like this are best handled in a sensitive manner. If this doesn’t work, you could try and implement a scent-free workplace policy within the office.
Workplace smells can make for an unpleasant working environment, but it doesn’t need to be that way. When dealt with efficiently and promptly, bad smells are easier to deal with than unhappy employees. If you work in a larger space and find it hard to keep on top of the different odour issues, invest in a long-term commercial odour control system to keep smells at bay.