A reader writes:
I recently purchased an essential oil diffuser for my house, and I love it. I would like to purchase one for my office too but am concerned it might be perceived as weird or new-agey. What do you think?
I don’t have anything else unusual in my office. If it helps, I am in a medium-sized city in the Midwest and recently noticed that my son’s kindergarten teacher was using one in the classroom.
I think it’ll come across as eccentric to some people (but not “let’s never work with her again” eccentric), neutral to others, charming to a small few, and annoying/problematic for others (more on that in a minute).
And it depends on what the scent is. If it’s, say, patchouli or anything else that proclaims “I’m fermenting tofu in the mini-fridge under my desk, and tomorrow I will be adding a beaded curtain to my office doorway,” the number of people perceiving it as eccentric will rise considerably. If it’s something like citrus, you’ll probably raise fewer eyebrows.
But totally aside from how people will perceive it, I think you probably should stay away from it. Unlike, say, a piece of artwork that you hang on your wall, scents waft and impact other people. An increasing number of people have fragrance sensitivities, and you could end up causing a coworker migraines, respiratory issues, or other physical discomfort. Or you might just annoy people who don’t enjoy the scent.
I’m all for making your work space more homey, but when you’re talking about modifying the air other people breathe, I think you’ve got to err on the side of caution.
That said, if you’re really dying to do it, you could ask around among your coworkers and see if anyone objects (as well as consider how often you have outside visitors in your space). But I’d rather see you keep it at home.