Have you ever walked into a place of business and felt immediate discomfort? If so, you likely did not return. Your business environment can affect sales, service quality, productivity, and ultimately, your bottom line.
One way to improve a lackluster interior design is to consider the ancient Chinese art of feng shui, which is a design principle used to ease the flow of energy. In simple, modern terms, it is a technique used to clear the clutter.
Feng Shui in an Office Environment
Open office plans facilitate the movement of energy through the workplace. You can start to create an open office plan by ensuring the aisles between desks are wide. To increase workplace productivity, avoid placing employees back-to-back or facing directly toward each other. If you can, stagger workspaces so team members can look straight ahead into more calming spaces.
To better enable your employees to focus, avoid facing workspaces into stairwells, elevators, hallways, or any other transitory space, as well as restrooms, closets, stock rooms and heavy office equipment.
Additionally, choose furniture with rounded edges, as angled edges can make people feel irritable, uncomfortable, and just generally stressed. If you can’t find suitable round-edged furniture, use plants to cover the sharp angles and give a more relaxed feel.
The design of your personal office is equally important. Always sit with your desk facing the door, because it allows you to see business as it comes in and survey all that goes on in the office beyond. Place your desk against a solid wall, to give support and strength to your career. Tempting as it may be, don’t place your desk looking out a window, as it makes for distractions. And don’t put it in front of a window; the openness offers no professional support.
Incorporating the Right Colors
There are five major elements to feng shui: Wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each has a corresponding color or colors, and a feeling it invokes.
Wood: Wood symbolizes loyalty and trust, and the colors most associated with it are green and brown.
Fire: Fire, as you might expect, spurs excitement and high-energy, and is the element associated with productivity and quick action. Red and bright orange are the colors here.
Earth: Think earthy tones, like yellow, orange, brown, and burnt red. Use these colors to promote stability and consistency.
Metal: Even though exposed metal is the chic design element of choice these days, you might not want to go overboard. Sure, it’s the element that represents wealth and cash flow, but too much throws off the balance of your space and can make it feel overwhelming. Silver, gold, grey, or any other metallic color work here.
Water: As you might guess, blue, steel grey and black are the colors that represent water. This element promotes communication, free-flow of ideas and travel.
Clear the Clutter
Only things you need all day, every day, should be within reach. Everything else should be stored somewhere. Keeping the clutter to a minimum will not only increase productivity, it will improve discipline, give workers clearer minds, allow them to work with fewer distractions, and create more space for other projects.
Decorations are More Than the Finishing Touch
The yin and yang of your business environment must always be in balance: masculine and feminine design traits should be equal so one energy does not overwhelm. So if you have yang (masculine) elements like hardwood tables, chairs, display cases and high ceilings, balance those with yin (feminine) elements like rounded decorations and light wall colors. Too much of either will make your employees and customers feel uncomfortable.
Also, choose soothing decorations that promote relaxation and productivity. Aquariums are popular to give a simultaneous sense of energy and calm. Plants give a cooling energy and are especially effective in high-traffic areas. Past that, choose artwork and artifacts that symbolize your brand and culture, and serve to influence employees to contribute to your success.
Feng shui is not an exact science, and by no means are these hard and fast rules that will make or break your business. But if you think your office is feeling a little blah, or your current layout seems stressful and unproductive, make these changes and see what happens. Ideally this will make everyone feel just a little bit better. Even if they don’t know why.