This time, we’re talking about feng shui. No, it’s not something you’ll find on a menu at your favorite Chinese restaurant. For those of you cubicle dwellers not familiar with the term, it’s pronounced “fung shway” and has everything to do with proper layout of a room or work area. Its history is Chinese in nature and goes back thousands of years, where it was originally designed to orient tombs or buildings in auspicious manners through emphasis on the various elements (earth, wood, fire, etc). I suggest a trip to the Wikipedia feng shui page if you would like to learn more.
By now, you probably have one of two reactions to the concept of feng shui, either: “sounds interesting, tell me more,” or “well that just sounds like a bunch of Hocus Pocus.” If you are in that second group, I applaud you for your skepticism and (possibly) unintentional reference to one of the better movies the 1990s had to offer us, but we like to keep an open mind here when it comes to cubicles and improving office work spaces. Personally, I’m not a superstitious squarehead, but nor do I discard any theory that seems strange before thinking it through. Even if something seems far-fetched, there’s a good chance it might have a logical explanation to it as well. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Proper feng shui dictates that, should you reside in a cubicle, room, or office, being able to see the entrance to your personal area is extremely important. I imagine the original concept came from somewhere in the self-preservation school of thought. As a great philosopher and feng shui master once said: “I would like to be able to see any would-be attackers entering my room or cubicle.” Okay, so maybe I’m the one who said that, but still. You know the would-be attackers I’m talking about; they sneak up on you while you have headphones in and ask for things. Things they can probably get themselves. But most cubicles have their inhabitant situated with their back to the door, and as you are probably well aware, most cubicle owners don’t have the ability to rip their desk apart and sit on the other side. Thankfully, feng shui has an answer for this. Find a small mirror or shiny metallic office-related object and situate it at an angle which will allow you to see what is going on behind your back. Personally, on particularly high cubicle traffic days, I’ve propped my smart phone at an angle which allowed me to see anyone lurking behind me. There’s something to be said for the small peace of mind it gives me to know what is happening behind my back.
Dreary cubicle decor does little to stimulate the imagination and gets boring to look at after a while.
Feng shui is also all about “high energy” items, such as bright or colorful pieces of art, or photographs associated with happy memories. Again, if you’re in the skeptical school of thought when it comes to feng shui, try to look at the more logical benefits of such cubicle decorations. Multiple studies have shown color impacts ability to learn, creativity, and mood. Dreary cubicle decor does little to stimulate the imagination and gets boring to look at after a while. As for the photographs, I personally have pictures or decorations from friends or coworkers past which remind me of the good times and often inspire me in one way or another. I’m fairly certain a wall of gray would do very little to that effect.
One last tip is removing cubicle clutter or unnecessary papers from your work space. I’m all for cubicle organization as a method of improving productivity as is; it’s always better to be able to find what you’re looking for so as to not be distracted from the task at hand. Implementing an organizational strategy for both your physical files and your electronic ones will pay dividends in terms of lowering your office stress and time wasted spent looking for things.
If you were already a feng shui believer, or feel yourself converting into one, feel free to read the full article on office cubicle feng shui. In the meantime, take my word that a few of these tips can actually help reduce your office stress quite a bit.