Feng Shui is the Chinese art or practice of positioning objects, especially buildings and furniture, based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects. And some believe that applying the principles of Feng Shui to your office setting can boost creativity, productivity and profitability--and make your workplace a less stressful place to be.
"Feng Shui also takes into account ergonomics, color theory - mood stimulation - and our own personality to improve how we feel and function within our spaces. It keeps our minds connected in a positive way," explains Feng Shui consultant and author Carolyn D. Thomas of Feng Shui ArQiTect.
"Feng Shui will help you take command of your life simply by taking command of your space. It addresses self-awareness and empowerment in the home and office. Not knowing what is happening in and around your bit of real estate affects the quality of your interactions with your family, coworkers and friends. Feng Shui in the workplace is a vital piece to creating an enriched atmosphere," says Bette Steflik of Shen Men Feng Shui. "Basic Feng Shui adjustments are easy to implement."
Here’s how to get started:
• Office with a view: " When you stand in the doorway looking into your office or cubicle, what do you see? What catches your eye and draws you in? Place an image or an object at eye level (in Feng Shui the higher up we place something gives it more importance) that connects you to the “why you work”. Do you dream of a trip to Tuscany? Find an image that connects you to it. You get the picture," says Thomas.
• At the door: "Attract good energy and make yourself visible by making sure your office is clearly identifiable as yours, with your name on the door and a clear indication of your job title (your business card, for example) on clear display," suggests Ann Bingley Gallops of Open Spaces Feng Shui.
• Shape’s the thing: "According to Feng Shui, the preferred shape for offices would be a square or rectangle, not an L-shaped or T- shaped room. This is because a square represents a more stable force, or energy. Irregular-shaped rooms create imbalances in these energies, so you might experience imbalances in key areas of life," says Feng Shui consultant Linda Lenore, founder of Green Chi Designs and author of The Gift of the Red Envelope: A Guide to Designing Balance, Order and Beauty in Your Home. "If your office is irregular in shape, divide it into sections using screens or plants to separate areas creating squares or rectangles."
• Seat of power: "Besides your bed, your desk is the seat of your power. Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine your office. Is your back to the door? Are you constantly looking over your shoulder? Are you facing a wall? Are you unaware of what is going on around you?" asks Steflik. "If your back is to the door you will find yourself caught off guard, losing your train of thought, jumpy, rattled and upset...Putting your desk in the right place will give you a change in perspective. It will increase productivity, profits, you will be in a better place to promote your creative ideas and launch a new paradigm. Your body will breathe easy and the change in your demeanor and attitude will be noticed."
• It’s all about the desk: "Your desktop keeps you productive," notes Thomas. "When sitting facing your desk, place your telephone to your left side – the Community area – to keep you connected; place your monitor in the upper left corner – the Empowerment area – to keep the prosperity flowing; and place a small green/flowering plant or images of your children in the upper right corner – the Relationship area – to keep your relationships nurtured and growing," says Thomas.
• Color and decor: "Office colors and decor should be used with Intention, taking business goals (such as creativity) and challenges into account. The desk should be kept clear of everything except the items that are used every day, to keep Chi energy moving, cut down on distractions, and maximize creative flow," says Gallops. "Display your proudest business success stories somewhere in your office. Use the Feng Shui Office Bagua Map to improve your success in every area of your business life." Also pay attention to lighting, says Steflik. "Get a goose neck lamp, position it so the light shines on you and your keyboard. The spotlight is effective for attention getting results and planning your next move," she says. "Also place a live plant next to you, align with its life force, ability to be rooted and breathe."
• Cubicle solutions: "Many workplaces have a beige labyrinth of cubby configurations where temporary half walls are erected and a feeling of bleakness pervades," notes Laura Benko, a Feng Shui consultant and educator in NYC. "If this is your situation, do all you can to make it your own, elevate your chi and set yourself up to thrive. Repositioning your desk is hardly ever a realistic option in this situation, so focus more on the things you can change. Add a mirror in front of you so you can see who enters from behind."
• Feng shui your work mind: "Feng Shui your mind by having a clear intention of your professional role, daily goals and a sense of inner strength...Try starting the day with a personal mantra that you say to yourself for nine times as you are entering your workplace, such as `I am productive, resourceful and wise in all tasks, choices and statements I make," says Benko.
• Feng shui your email: "Get into the habit of only checking your email a limited amount of times per day. For most occupations this is not a problem but there are other professions that heavily rely on Internet communication throughout the day. Let’s say you are a stockbroker, trader or financial advisor and your job revolves around email and instant message communication on a minute-by-minute basis. In that case you could prioritize incoming emails with color code systems by setting up your email address book entrees by color if your email program allows. In this way, for example, a quick glance identifies emails from clients in red, family in green or new projects in orange," suggests Benko. "Discourage others from sending you the dreaded multi-forward chain mails that tell you to “send to 10 people or your wish won’t come true”. Most people abhor these but suffer from a social or superstitious obligation to comply. Create a standard response to continuous solicitations--“ I thank you for thinking of me, however, I have had to make it a practice to not respond to chain emails that require me to pass it along to the masses out of respect for the wishes of my email address book recipients. I would love to hear from you personally rather than receive multi-forward chain emails that I cannot pass on. I thank you for thinking of me and understanding my situation."
Whether or not Feng Shui can actually boost business is open to debate, but using the techniques can make your workplace a more comfortable place. "The most important aspect of Feng Shui is to create a “feel good” space — a place where we love to be," concludes Lenore. "An idealistic approach is to love everything 100% or get rid of it. That's probably not realistic, yet if we can find something beautiful or useful in every item we have in our surroundings, it changes not only how we see these items, but how we see the world as well."