These are the 6 best scents for boosting productivity when working from home

Experts claim these 6 scents can boost different cognitive functions – this is how to incorporate them into your workspace

Best scents for boosting productivity
(Image credit: Graham & Green / Dulux / Michael P. H. Clifford)

When working from home, incorporating the right scents into your workspace can significantly boost productivity by stimulating your brain and creating an environment conducive to work. 

Studies have revealed that different scents can activate areas of your brain that can keep you motivated and focused, enhance your memory, and even reduce stress. Additionally, since the brain forms associations between scents and experiences, harnessing scents associated with productivity during working hours in your home office can condition your brain to enter a focused state when exposed to those scents.

So, if you struggle to maintain focus and energy when working remotely, consider integrating these scents into your environment to make your home workspace more productive

The best scents for boosting productivity 

'In our ever-evolving understanding of the human brain, one often underestimated factor plays a crucial role in shaping our behavior: scent,' says Tracy Pepe, perfumer and Founder of Smelling Pink. 'The relationship between scent and cognition is rooted in neuroscience. Scents can trigger the olfactory system, directly influencing brain areas responsible for emotions and memory. This activation can have a profound impact on mood and cognitive function.'

'Aromas can stimulate the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, contributing to improved mood and reduced stress levels' continues Tracy. 'This, in turn, creates a more conducive environment for focused work.'

Below, our experts have explained the best home fragrances for boosting your cognition for better work.

1. Rosemary

A study with green walls, wooden L-shaped desk and wooden open shelves

(Image credit: Albion Nord/80 Holland Park/Patrick Williamson)

Rosemary, while the perfect herb for flavoring meals, also has stimulating properties when used as an essential oil. 

Rosemary has uplifting and mood-boosting properties that can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It can also promote a sense of calmness and clarity, allowing for greater focus and productivity. 

'Rosemary essential oil has been found to improve memory retention and increase alertness,' explains Tracy Pepe. Since rosemary oil helps us to focus and retain information, it may be especially helpful during teleconferences or virtual business meetings when it's crucial to recall data.

The scent of rosemary has also been linked to enhanced cognitive performance including increased focus, mental clarity, and concentration. 

Tracy Pepe
Tracy Pepe

Tracy Pepe has been a perfumer for over three decades, specializing in essential oil. Her book 'Why The Nose?' delves into the extensive research on olfaction and its implications for enhancing our sense of smell. She also sheds light on the profound impact of scent on our cognitive processes, particularly in the context of remote work environments.

2. Citrus

Home office with orange chair

(Image credit: Graham & Green)

'Scents like orange, lemon, and grapefruit are known to have energizing effects on the brain when used in aromatherapy,' says Nate Masterson, an aromatherapy expert for Maple Holistics.

'Citrus can promote a fresher environment which can increase your energy levels and lead to increased productivity. Studies have also shown that these scents can enhance concentration, alertness, and mood by stimulating the central nervous system,' explains Nate Masterson.

Citrus Essential Oil Kit | Was $13.95, now $11.95

Citrus Essential Oil Kit | Was $13.95, now $11.95
This essential oils kit includes lemon, grapefruit, lime, mandarin and tangerine scents. 

3. Cinnamon

Curved desk with leather chair

(Image credit: Elicyon Photograph Patrick Williamson)

'There’s a link between the spicy, sharp scent of cinnamon and its ability to create a warm, comforting environment. By doing this, it’s believed that cinnamon has the ability to promote greater cognitive function and possibly further your attention span,' says Nate Masterson.

'When you are inhaling the scent of cinnamon, you’re able to reduce distractions and hone in on the tasks in front of you, being able to stay more focused for longer periods.'

Because of the calming, inviting atmosphere cinnamon creates, this can reduce stress and boost relaxation, allowing for greater focus and productivity. In turn, this can elevate mood and motivation, making it easier to stay productive throughout the day.

Cinnamon Cassia Oil | Was $9.95, now $8.28

Cinnamon Cassia Oil | Was $9.95, now $8.28 
Add a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to your diffuser to release the aroma into your home office. 

4. Peppermint

Blue home office

(Image credit: Dulux)

Peppermint is renowned for its ability to invigorate the mind, enhance concentration, and stimulate clear thinking.

The aroma of peppermint stimulates the brain's hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. This activation leads to improved cognitive function, thereby fostering sharper focus and better retention of information, making peppermint an excellent scent for productivity.

'When I’m working from home, peppermint is my go-to for enhancing focus and motivation. Its fresh, uplifting scent has a way of waking you up and making your mind feel sharper,' says Nate Masterson. 'The stimulating scent increases alertness and allows you to tackle tasks with more energy and focus. 

'Usually, after lunchtime I find my productivity levels begin to dip, so using a peppermint essential oil after lunch has a great impact on my productivity. I feel like it wakes me up and helps my brain get going.'

5. Lavender

LED candles

(Image credit: Ivyline)

Lavender is a well-known scent for relaxation and sleep, but it can also be beneficial for productivity by creating a positive atmosphere conducive to focused work.

While it may not seem that the best scents for sleep can also be helpful for productive work, lavender's calming aroma has been found to reduce anxiety, irritability, agitation, or stress, which, as well as improving sleep, can also help promote more calm and focused work.

By reducing negative feelings, lavender can create an environment for improved cognitive function by cleaning the mind of distractions and allowing for greater focus and mental clarity. This can be particularly beneficial during high-pressure tasks.

Lavender Essential Oil | Was $22.99, Now $19.65 at Amazon

Lavender Essential Oil | Was $22.99, Now $19.65 at Amazon
Use a few drops of lavender essential oil to calm your mind and promote greater mental clarity.

6. Eucalyptus

home office with green french decor toile wallpaper and black furniture

(Image credit: Casadeco)

'The invigorating scent of eucalyptus is often used to clear the mind, lessen weariness and mental fog, and stimulate mental focus,' explains Nate Masterson. 'The fragrance of eucalyptus also has decongestant properties, helping to clean nasal passages and improve breathing. Improved respiration can lead to increased oxygen flow to the brain which can enhance cognitive performance, ultimately boosting productivity.'

'Ultimately, learning to use scent is a lifelong journey. While the process may seem as simple as the nose on your face, its impact on productivity and well-being is profound,' says Tracy Pepe, perfumer and Founder of Smelling Pink. 'By incorporating the right scents into our home offices, we can unlock new levels of focus, creativity, and overall satisfaction in our work-from-home endeavors.'

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.