Uncomfortable chairs, glaring fluorescent lights, the absence of nature. All these things can culminate in making the workspace an uncomfortable and uninspiring place to spend our days. Enter feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”), the Eastern art of harmonising the energy of individuals with their surroundings.

The basic principle behind feng shui is to utilise the arrangement of objects in order to improve the flow of energy through a room/space. The idea is that everything, from the colour of your walls to the shape of your desk, has a subtle effect on the energy of the environment in which they’re situated. According to feng shui wisdom, how we organise our surroundings will have a great impact on how we function within those surroundings.

This doesn’t just apply to our homes, but to our places of work too. And considering that a study by the American Society of Interior Designers showed that employees who like their office environment are 31% more likely to be satisfied in their job, it seems as if a few extra plants around the office might be worth the effort after all. 

So, moving on from our last post about the workspaces of famous creatives, this week we’re thinking about our own places of work, and looking at how we can use feng shui principles in our offices and at our desks to enjoy a more harmonious working life.

Feng shui: the basics

First of all we need to consider the five elements of feng shui: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Each of these elements is represented by its own colour palette, and every colour, in feng shui, has its own corresponding emotion or meaning (we’ll get to that soon). For now, here are the elements and their representative colours:

Wood: green, brown.

Fire: red, orange, yellow, pink, purple.

Earth: light yellow, light brown, sandy/earth tones.

Metal: white, grey.

Water: black, blue.

The way of colour   

So, what do all these colourful elements mean in a practical sense? Well, when decorating your office the feng shui way, you need to consider what sort of working vibe you’re trying to achieve.

Do you want your office to be relaxing and inviting? Opulent and commanding? Colourful and creative? Ultimately, the colours you employ will go a long way in establishing the mood and atmosphere of your working environment. Here’s a breakdown of some colours and what they represent:

Green: family, good health.

Black: career, knowledge.

Red: passion, energy.

Yellow: unity, relationships.

White: creativity.

Blue: wisdom, knowledge.

Plants

Once you’ve got the colour down, it’s time to think plants. Because no feng shui space is complete without some of the potted green stuff.

Not only are plants great to look at, but it’s also believed that they help to reduce stress and increase creativity. And, according to studies, potted plants in the workspace may raise job satisfaction, improve attendance, and increase productivity.

Here are some recommendations for excellent office plants:

Dracaena

Peace Lily

Snake Plant

Spider Plant

A harmonious desk

Now to the centre piece of the office worker’s day-to-day. The desk. And when it comes to feng shui and desks, there are three things you need to consider: material, shape, and colour.

Material

Chances are you probably already have a desk. And though it may seem extreme to rush out for a new one in the name of energetic harmony, it’s still worth talking about the stuff they’re made of.

For the most part, our desks are either composed of wood, laminate, glass, or metal. And according to wisdom on the subject, here’s how those materials break down:

Metal represents clarity, precision, and focus. According to Knowfengshui, you should consider using metal “when you need crisp, clear, fresh and dynamic quality of energy in your home or office.” It’s also good for alleviating feelings of frustration and lethargy.

Wood provides energy, nourishment, and growth. It’s all about health and abundance. And don’t forget that wood itself is a source of natural energy.

Glass is clear and clean, but its transparency means that it doesn’t hold energy very well. So it’s recommended, when working with a glass desk, to combine it with lots of tall plants to keep the energy nice and grounded.

Laminate is considered to be somewhat passive in the feng shui sense. So it’s recommended that a laminate desk should be complemented with an abundance of other good energy sources (think clocks, plants, and lots of colours).

Shape

According to feng shui expert Ken Lauher, kidney-shaped desks are the ultimate when it comes to workspace harmony. Soft, relaxing, and comfortable. Kidney-shaped desks make an excellent choice for businesses that receive lots of visitors, as they make visitors feel at ease.

Another good choice, however, (and much more practical for smaller spaces) is the classic rectangular desk. These are easier to come by, often cheaper, and, according to Luher, offer a sense of stability. And what business doesn’t need stability?

Luher also recommends staying clear of L-shaped desks where possible. These are, in his opinion, the worst of the bunch.

Colour

A slightly different context to the colours mentioned earlier. When it comes to desks, the colour palette has a whole new meaning. So here’s a quick rundown of the three most common desk colours and what they stand for:

Brown: comfortable and nourishing.

Black: open-minded, introspective, strong focus.

White: clarity and discipline.

The benefits of a nice workspace

Ultimately, feng shui is a broad and sprawling subject whose principles can’t really be encapsulated in a single blog post. But, though we may not be experts, one thing feng shui can certainly teach us is the importance of a clean, welcoming, and inviting workspace.

It’s no secret that a cluttered room makes for a cluttered mind. And by applying even just a few of the techniques offered by feng shui, we stand to make our working lives much more pleasant and enjoyable, which must be worth something!

So, whether it’s a few extra plants or a full office redesign, get your feng shui on and start harmonising your workplace!