Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Machine Creates More Pleasant Work Environment

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Machine Creates More Pleasant Work Environment

Article excerpt

TROY, N.Y. _ The perfect office isn't like that pit you work in.

The ideal workplace, says Robert A. Baron, should have lights with a pink glow. The sound level should be low, the air clean and mildly fragrant, perhaps with the scent of peppermint or lemon. It should be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There should plenty of space for each person.

If your sweatshop lacks these qualities, Baron may be able to help.

Baron, a psychologist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and industrial designer Fred Haber recently received a U.S. patent for an "Apparatus for Enhancing the Environmental Quality of Work Space."

In other words, they've invented a machine that makes you more productive by making your office a nicer place in which to work. It's dubbed the Invomatic 120.

"Anything in the environment that can affect our moods can have an impact on our behavior," said Baron, who heads Rensselaer's Department of Managerial Policy and Organization and has studied the relationship between the physical environment and job performance for 25 years.

"There's a very big (body of scientific) literature that says when you change people's moods you really do change the way they think, the way they perform, the way they make decisions," he said.

The physical environment is the sum of many factors _ including air quality, noise, temperature, and lighting. When these factors are in sync, people tend to get along better and be more productive, Baron said.

But when the environment causes discomfort _ for instance, when someone starts hammering in the office next door _ stress and decreased productivity result, he said.

Baron's invention is aimed at improving three factors: noise, air quality and fragrance. The Invomatic 120 combines a powerful air filter, a white noise generator and a fragrance release system in a triangular box about the size of a toaster.

While other companies have already marketed air filters and fragrance releasers in one unit, Haber said the Invomatic is the first device to combine all three functions.

The air filter traps more than 99 percent of the dust, smoke and pollen that moves through it, Baron said. …

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