Feng Shui Office Layout and Workplace Design
By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
The practice involves arranging different objects, colors, and elements in a geometric way to create balance within a space. It’s a practice that’s common in the home and, recently, is seeing rising popularity in the workplace.
How does it work?
Feng shui focuses on intangibles, creating good energy flow in spaces by dictating their design and arrangement. Arranging desks in a certain way won’t unlock employee superpowers, but might boost positive feelings about their environment. And happy employees do a better job.
Because feng shui is all about creating balance, there are a lot of factors to consider. Most good feng shui workplace layouts focus on harmonizing the following variables:
- The eight cardinal directions
- The five natural elements (Earth, wind, fire, water, and aether)
- Natural binaries
For example, it may mean arranging desks to face east, while placing plants in the western part of the office. Or, it could mean using dark colors for décor in a workplace that benefits from a lot of natural light.
There are no “rules” to feng shui. There’s only a focus on balance—whether you’re trying to decide what colors to decorate with or determine a desk layout to offset your natural floor plan.
Why should you care?
Skeptical? Consider these benefits of bringing feng shui into your workplace:
- Companies practicing feng shui are distinctly cleaner and more organized. In a feng shui office, everything has its place and that area is maintained. Cleaner, organized offices result in happier, calmer employees.
- Because feng shui demands balance, office environments practicing it generally feel balanced. This can spur better productivity. It’s where the concept of Qi takes on a more visible role.
- Feng shui emphasizes elements, including greenery and water. Both are proven to have a calming effect in the workplace. Plants and water features de-stress employees and bolster mood.
- Feng shui for desk directions can impact the amount of natural light workers get. Natural light is proven to boost mood and morale.
One of feng shui’s biggest benefits is its emphasis on identifying and eliminating stress points. The Chinese believe stress is a product of imbalance. Using feng shui to create balance means first identifying and resolving stress points. This could be as simple as rearranging desks to balance the physical office or introducing plants to break up whitewashed walls.
A focus on feeling
Feng shui in the workplace is the embodiment of two very important office design variables. First, it focuses on employee comfort. Second, it identifies optimal space utilization. Practicing feng shui design encapsulates these two variables into a central focus. Theoretically, you’ll end up with a balanced space that maximizes utilization and employee morale.
How to take a feng shui approach
Feng shui is as much up to your interpretation of balance as it is a set of guidelines. Many of the wisest feng shui gurus generally preach the rule of “if it feels right, it is right.” That said, there are several ways to fast-track your workplace for feng shui and introduce a little positive energy into the environment:
- Bring in the plants. Bamboo and money trees are especially popular in feng shui, fulfilling several aspects of geomancy—elements, color, and meaning. Try placing plants in the east or southeast areas of your workplace to improve prosperity and health.
- Spruce up plain, white walls with a little color. Try blue on northern walls, lighter cream or yellow on northeastern or southeastern walls, purple or red on southern walls, and gray on western or northwestern walls.
- Rearrange desks in a more balanced way, such as grouping them in different areas of the workplace or facing them all in a certain direction. Similarly, use desk arrangements to channel Qi in your office. For example, point desks toward the east to coincide with the sunrise.
- Start to look for areas of your office that are unbalanced. Is there a section of the office that feels cramped, while another is more open? Are some areas well-lit, while others are dark? Find imbalances and work to balance them.
Often, an interior designer with feng shui knowledge can help improve your workplace’s Qi. Likewise, taking the time to understand stress points will reveal many imbalances worth correcting.
An appeal to skeptics
Still skeptical about the benefits of workplace feng shui? If you need hard proof in the power of positive Qi, start with a few simple adjustments. Pick an area that causes friction and take a feng shui approach to balancing it. You might just find that a little ancient Chinese wisdom is exactly what you need to make the most of your workplace. Also read how a workplace meditation room can increase your bottom-line.