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Transform Your Office Space with Feng Shui

From Health e-Headlines Consumer Health News Service, January 2007

Picture yourself. It’s a spring day. A light breeze is blowing. You’re sitting by a stream. Life is idyllic.

That’s how you should feel when you walk into your office space. Life is about harmony and balance with the natural surroundings. Work can be too.

You can create harmony and balance at work with a philosophy called feng shui. It’s a lot more than just moving around the furniture.

Let’s clear this up right now. You pronounce it as fung shway – literally, in Chinese, wind and water.

Health-e headlines talked exclusively with Carol Olmstead, FSII, a practitioner trained and certified by the Feng Shui Institute of America, about how to transform a work space. She addressed the open-ceiling cubicle, but the principles apply to any office, work station, or home office (even if that room used to be your dining room).

Plants help grow your career
“Boundaries are important,” said Olmstead. “With cubicles, there are no automatic or immediate boundaries.”

So set limits, she suggested, even in cubicles without doors. Put a plant or coat rack or position a chair by the entry to set the boundary. A visitor will get the signal that “this is your office” and will respectfully pause before coming in.

Plants also serve another purpose. In many workplaces, electronics such as computers and printers are spewing electromagnetic force fields. “Place a plant within 3 feet of your computer,” said Olmstead. “Peace lilies grow well under artificial light.” The philodendron with its heart-shaped leaves is another low-light plant that grows well in the cubicle environment. Lucky bamboo thrives with little care.

“Silk plants are not going to eat up electromagnetic forces,” said Olmstead, “but they will make you feel well and help set boundaries. The wood or growing element in plants represents growth and expansion of your career.”

Sit in a position of power
“The most powerful way to sit at your desk is facing the door on a diagonal,” according to Olmstead. Choose the corner across from the door to place your desk or work table. This is the power position (even in a restaurant, select your seat carefully at the table so you face the entry during a power lunch).

“You see what is coming in, and nothing goes on behind your back. You are vulnerable if your back is to the door,” Olmstead pointed out. You don’t want to be caught off guard, according to feng shui principle.

If you don’t have a choice to reposition your desk, place a small mirror or reflective object so you can see the door, she said. An unobtrusive “rear-view” mirror attached to your computer monitor allows you to glance up to see what is going on.

Feel grounded
“A small rug placed at the entryway to your office brings abundance into your life,” Olmstead said. She suggests an inexpensive Oriental rug with a moving pattern – denoting the water element.

If the entryway is not available, place the rug under your feet for grounding.

If you’re not feeling connected to the company, place logo objects in your work space – a corporate mug, for example. Such objects can help the entire work group feel connected. When workers have the same items in their workspace, especially the company’s colors, they feel like they belong to a group.

Unclutter to see the future
With your desk repositioned so you sit facing the door (and the future), clear any clutter because it represents postponed decisions and an inability to move forward.

Choose closed storage units such as a file cabinet. “Just get clutter off your desk and out of the way,” Olmstead said. “Not hidden behind closed doors.”

Placement of the remaining items on your desk can be determined by feng shui principles that correspond to life (wealth, health, and love, for example). Wealth is represented by the upper left-hand corner, so place your phone there if you do business on the phone.

Photos of your spouse or children or pets personalize your space so you are staring at something that is motivating, according to Olmstead. “They are the reason you are doing this job,” she said. Photos of your loved ones go in the “love” area of your desk, which is the upper right-hand corner. You might also hang a photo or something that motivates you, such as a vacation picture, beach scene or dream home. This goes on the wall that you are facing when you are working at your desk. A sunset photo might bring you peace and a sense of accomplishment. The peace/harmony area of your office is to the right of the door.

Olmstead, for example, collects ruby red shoes (“there’s no place like home”) and these little icons in her work space remind her of what she is doing – and why.

Remember, the future is directly in front of you.

Color your world
Office spaces can be drab, and you may not have much control over yours. If possible, insert some passion and emotion with something red, orange or purple.

“Artwork with fiery colors,” Olmstead suggested. “Or put desk objects in a red plastic box. Buy a red mousepad or stapler. Even colored file folders literally put fire in your life.” She also suggested draping a bright cloth on the desk, especially if it’s a dull gray metal.

If your work world is lit by fluorescent lights, see if you can have them turned off or at least have maintenance remove the bulbs or insert a filter in the fixture over your desk. These represent the hard metal element pounding down on you all day long. Many people get headaches from this harsh light. Use a desk lamp or floor lamp instead.

Window coverings, if you’re near a window, may also be out of your control. You may be forced to endure harsh sunlight or a nasty view of the roof and air conditioners. If you have a choice on window coverings, select blinds that close backward to diffuse the light yet block the view.

No window? No problem. “You can feel connected with the world with nature posters and photos,” said Olmstead. “The more you see the living world, the better you feel.” She suggests images of nature, growing flowers, the Grand Canyon, mountains, or images that simulate looking outside.

Read more from Carol Olmstead and Feng Shui for Real Life at, where you can subscribe to her free monthly e-newsletter of Feng Shui tips.

©2007 Write On, Inc., publishers of Health-e headlines Consumer Health News Service

© Copyright 2024, Carol Olmstead