How To Feng Shui Your Office

There are a lot of ways to capitalize on efficiency while working in an office or home office setting, from digital task managers and to-do list strategies like Eat that Frog, to systems of organization. We've become so focused on monitoring productivity that we may be forgetting an old adage about keeping things simple; sometimes the environment can have as great an impact, or better, on our concentration as the methods we adopt for achieving it. For example, lighting, comfort, airflow and temperature, noise pollution, and how frequently we are distracted all affect our ability to focus and get things done.

Feng shui, a thousands-year-old Chinese philosophy, emphasizes the importance of balance between our living environment and the natural world. According to The Spruce, the principles of feng shui reflect nature, and its practice is undertaken to access, and benefit from, the flow of energy throughout our spaces. With these guiding principles, enhancements and amendments can be made to each indoor environment: furniture arrangement, wall color, imagery, and even the direction we face as we do our work are a few considerations. 

Here, we explore feng shui ideas for the office to increase joy, health, wealth, and productivity. While they may not seem exactly simple, a few small changes could make a difference; and whether you subscribe to the concept or not, a soothing paint color, new houseplant, or supportive office chair are positives we can all believe in.

Put your desk in the power position

A prominent theory of feng shui is that the location where one spends the most time in a particular space should be diagonally across from the main doorway. This is called the power or commanding position. Per My Domaine, this allows one to be aware of anything or anyone approaching, whether it be a coworker, an opportunity, or energy. Conversely, facing away from the door creates vulnerability; if facing a wall, place a mirror to reflect the area behind you. 

Ideally, there should also be a solid wall behind the desk, and if that's not possible, a row of tall plants (a wood element) meant to foster a feeling of security. In this vein, select a high-backed chair that will be supportive and comfortable for long periods of sitting. Lastly, take care that there are neither ceiling beams nor fans above you that can contribute life-draining energy. 

Materials matter

According to Better Homes & Gardens, feng shui uses balanced elements of earth, water, fire, wood, and metal — with their corresponding energies — to create a harmonious and complete environment. Optimal materials for the desk are those associated with expansion and prosperity, therefore a wood desk is best. A rectangle, L-shape, or a variation of those with softened corners are most agreeable. Real Simple advises that it should be absolutely sturdy and stable, with no wobbliness or uneven footing: after all, a desk is seen as a representation of the career.

Water and metal elements promote abundance and sharpness, respectively; a cold-mist essential oil diffuser is a great way to introduce the water element while adding the benefit of aromatherapy. Per Well + Good, lemon, lavender, peppermint, and cinnamon are all office-appropriate scents. Choose a metal desk lamp, planter, or desk accessories as easy options for bringing the metal element into the office.

Use color wisely

In the feng shui color system, particular colors stimulate particular kinds of energy, aligning themselves with one, or more, of the five elements. Therefore, it is appropriate to incorporate a shade that will enhance the purpose of the space; and the most efficient method for that is paint. The Spruce recommends wall colors that reflect water, metal, or earth elements predominantly, as they support qualities desirable in an office setting: abundance, precision, and knowledge. 

White and grey represent the metal element. The choices in this palette are plentiful, with both cool and warm tones to match your aesthetic. White promotes productivity, whereas grey signals collaboration; one that skews warm contains some of the earth element, helping to maintain a sense of calm in a hectic day. Brown is an earth color and makes us feel grounded. 

Add small touches of strong hues with artwork and accessories to introduce balancing energies — yellow: joy; red: passion; green: vitality; purple: clarity; and black: prosperity.

Control clutter

The adage, "out with the old and in with the new," applies to energy, too. Hive Life explains that keeping clutter at bay allows the flow of creativity in the space, diminishing areas for energy to become blocked. Furthermore, a clean work environment allows us to think. Ample storage and a disciplined routine for maintaining tidiness will help to corral clutter. My Domaine cautions against sharing storage with others, as it can distract focus and take over our own goals for the space.

According to The Spruce, in feng shui, books represent knowledge; but having too many while leaving no room for more, or having an overabundance of old books, can mean a stagnation of knowledge or a grasping of old, tired ideas. Create space for new books, and new ideas, to enter your office. Finally, pare down furniture to a functional necessity, and make sure there is nothing on the floor, encouraging energy to flow throughout the room.

Plants are essential

Per Well + Good, plants are the easiest way to bring a wood element into the office. They contribute chi (a vital life force) as tokens of growth and uplifting energy and improve the indoor air quality. The location of the plants within the space can also determine the energy you bring forth from them.

Spiky foliage is generally avoided in feng shui; however, The Spruce explains that the snake plant is a good option because of its forcefully upward growth habit. It's also extremely easy to care for, thriving in low-light conditions; a healthy plant adds more positive energy than a flagging one. The jade plant, peace lily, lucky bamboo, and Chinese money plant, with rounded leaves that resemble little coins, are all excellent choices as well, according to Magic Bricks. The outlet advises against bringing in thorny or fake plants. Flowers are also frowned upon.