What is Feng Shui and How It Can Help the Office
Feng Shui assumes that the Earth is a living object, filled with energy and concerns the orientation of buildings, objects etc. to harness that energy for positive outcomes (there is both bad and good Feng Shui). Feng Shui in the workplace should be seen as coordinating your hopes and aspirations for what is conducted in that space with the physical look and organisation of it. Translated to business, this could mean rearranging furniture or the overall room, so processes run more smoothly or to promote a positive outlook for those who inhabit the space, in turn affecting their work.
Incorrect Perceptions of Feng Shui
Often Feng Shui is disregarded as time spent in a stuffy conference room with a “guru” sporting a tiny goatee, advising them to find their “inner Chi” or some mumbo-jumbo. In a busy environment when every day brings its own new challenges as they occur, it can seem impossible to put aside time and resources to to do this. One ought to instead treat any office rearrangement as a team-building exercise or a chance to socialise rather than spending money on a lunch out. Now there are some tips which really won’t apply to a workplace, and these stretch further back to more traditional thought; for example, treating flies with respect, which unless Corporate wish to instil a no-killing-fly policy and monitor their employees to ensure this is kept up, would not be feasible and bad prioritisation of resources. Instead this could be seen as an extension of the lesson of being aware of coworkers’ customs, beliefs and ways of doing things, and we should respect them. Many Feng Shui lessons can be reinterpreted and provide ideas which can be more applicable to the everyday office.
Decor and Colours
Feng Shui teaches that a good balance of ying and yang is essential. This can amount to balancing colours, surfaces and textures of office furniture and decor. An all-white workplace, while appearing in some circles to be quite fashionably minimalist, can bring to mind the sterility of a hospital which has its own negative connotations. The pristine look may also put people on edge, in that they may spill something and tarnish the look. On the other hand, having too many dark colours can look grim and discourage an enthusiastic or positive outlook; this can be made worse if there is no access to direct sunlight which brings on a sense of seasonal affective disorder (on a simpler level, a bit of sun always make people happier). If a workforce appear disenchanted, and they interact with clients and customers, this is the worst attitude to give off. A variety in terms of furniture and treatments to flooring and windows, gives the sense that a business have some flair to them and are unique within a market; this will make you stand out if you apply this to your overall public image. Encouraging some pesonalisation of a desk can be great for moral and a feeling of comfort while one works.
Many use the watercooler as not just a means of refreshment through a cup of water, but a break from tasks to re-energise. Staring at a computer all day can be very tiring on both the eyes and brain function, and sometimes not very rewarding if we cut ourselves off from co-workers. A social workforce, who meet outside work and actually enjoy talking to each other rather than rely on small-talk, are more likely to feel comfortable helping each other when it comes to work. Many Feng Shui experts recommend an aquarium or tabletop fountain to for the purposes of activating career success; while this may be, it can also be seen as a relaxing addition to the hectic workspace, encouraging small breaks and fun interaction amongst workers so they actually talk to one-another. In a diverse workforce, common interests or talking points can be rare but these kinds of features can be a good starting point. However, Feng Shui experts suggest a very specific placement of the aquarium (East, North, or Southeast).
An important management lesson is to make your workforce feel valued. This can be achieved through compliments and taking an interest in them as people, though if a large office, this can be hard. Think more simply, and consider what it is like to be in their shoes, or sit at their desk. What do they look out to most days? If the answer is a storage room, elevator or toilet, then there’s a chance that may feel undervalued as this is very uninspiring. In the same way that an aquarium can be pleasant to look at, a nice scene to look out to, can make all the difference.
Health and Safety
Good air quality is also highlighted in Feng Shui. Of course, no one should be smoking indoors, but also consider factors like personal hygiene which co-workers have to put up. You have to occupy that space from 9-5, 5 days a week so this is important. Even things like smelly foods should be taken into consideration, such as things brought from home. Air quality is an issue that is often the responsibility of a health and safety administrator or human resources within the workplace. This can cover carbon monoxide detectors, ensuring they are functional. That your employees can see what they’re doing without difficulty means providing the necessary light; additionally, a flickering light, as well as being incredibly annoying and a distraction, can be associated with something on its last legs in that no one has bothered to fix it and a lack of pride in one’s company. This can be another lesson, that if something needs to be fixed, do it as soon as possible even if it is not essential to work, like devices for printing or copying; a problem can develop further and be harder/more expensive to fix in the long run. As has been covered, too much reliance on artificial light can affect moods, so ensure that blind are open to allow sunlight whenever possible; for employees, it makes sense that if they can see the day progressing they will be more conscious of time and get things done.
For those who work from home, it is important to still be in the right mind frame to get things done when it is the same space they relax in. Because one doesn’t have to get changed or physically commute, it can affect one’s motivation to get things done. Keep the two ideas of home and work as separate as possible; ideally you’ll have an actual office room to work in, to cut yourself off from the rest of the home, and its distractions. Feng Shui goes one step further to suggest keeping your office as far from your bedroom as possible; the physical temptation to sleep, as well as the metaphorical association with sleeping.
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/philliecasablanca/3344142642/sizes/m/
Paul has experience working with several types of office environments in many different industries, and over time has adopted a layered outlook with many techniques and strategies to ensure the smooth running of a business, day-to-day. His higher study of Psychology has also factored into this, with particular focus on environment and the effects of external factors on the individual.