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Creating a Harmonic Office

From SmallBusinessDepot.com, March 2001

Carol Olmstead used to sit with her back to the door of her home office. That was before she learned about Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese art form that focuses on the colors, shapes and textures of one's surroundings. When a friend told her about the wonders of Feng Shui, Olmstead rearranged her office so that she could see the door.

Just two weeks later, she landed a major contract with a company in Hawaii. The firm even paid her to stay an extra week, so that she could do her presentation for an associate who was away on business.

"I said to myself, 'The only thing I changed was my environment,'" says Olmstead. "That told me that there was something about Feng Shui that I needed to look into. The more I studied, the more I realized that what we put into our offices in terms of color and shape and texture affects how we not only survive in that office, but also how we thrive in that office and in that business."

Olmstead became such a believer that she phased out her public relations consultancy and studied under a Feng Shui master. She is now a certified Feng Shui professional who advises individuals and businesses on how to arrange their surroundings in order to achieve their goals and objectives. Let's say they want to become more creative. Olmstead might advise them to add some add black, dark blue or patterned items to their office. Those colors and patterns - basically anything that is curved or flowing - represents water, a symbol of a flowing environment.

"My clients tell me what they're looking to change in their business," Olmstead says. "Then I recommend cures for their environment that can help bring about those changes."

About six months ago, she helped a small, home-based computer firm set up its first leased office. The firm began to grow so quickly that within six months it needed to move to a larger space. And the owners contacted Olmstead to help them once again.

Olmstead admits that she's not a traditional Feng Shui consultant. Instead of telling her clients to place mirrors, fountains and three-legged frog statues in their homes and offices, she helps them develop an environment that works best for them. She does, however, incorporate the traditional five elements of Feng Shui:
  • Rectangular wood, or green, elements to represent growth.
  • Triangular fire, or red, elements to represent power.
  • Brown, earth elements to represent grounding or stability.
  • Round, metal and pastel items to represent mental focus.
  • Water elements in blacks, dark blues and patterns to represent flow, or creativity.

Olmstead provides clients with a bagua - or what she calls a mapping chart - that places those elements in certain positions, depending on the client's objectives. She also makes three basic suggestions, which she says can help any business. They are:
  • Get in position. This was the first lesson Olmstead learned: Never sit with your back to the door. "Symbolically, you can be caught off guard by your clients and your competitors," she says. "If you can't reposition your furniture, then you need to put a small mirror on your desk so you can see the doorway. It will make you feel more grounded, more secure."
  • Reduce clutter. Everyone has clutter, says Olmstead, and everyone should cut it down as much as possible. "Clutter represents stuck energy and postponed decisions," she says. "The best way to contain clutter is to invest in good storage, such as filing cabinets and bookcases, some with doors. Get rid of stuff you don't need." If you're not sure about a particular item, Olmstead suggests that you put it in the trunk of your car and drive around with it for 30 days. If you don't need it during that time, get rid of it. And take the clutter-reduction process slowly. Put on your favorite music CD and spend those 20 minutes or so cleaning out your closet, filing cabinet or desk. When you've listened to the last song on that CD, stop cleaning. Then do the same thing the next day - until you've sufficiently reduced your clutter.
  • Fix or replace broken items. This is similar to the clutter concept. Broken items have a negative effect on energy. "Anything that doesn't work represents a disregard for your work," Olmstead says. "It represents more of this stuck energy and drags you down." So, if you've got a lamp that doesn't work or even a lampshade that is stained, fix it, clean it or get rid of it.
Feng Shui is catching on among such cosmopolitan locations as London, New York and San Francisco. But it's been much more slowly adopted in more conservative regions like the Washington, D.C., area where Olmstead practices. "People are fairly traditional and they think of Feng Shui as mirrors and fountains and three-legged frogs," she says. "But you can do very practical things. I'm finding those business clients who use Feng Shui find amazing results." For tips on how to use Feng Shui to make your meetings more productive, see Preferred Seating.

copyright SmallDusinessDepot.com 2001


© Copyright 2019, Carol Olmstead