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Feng shui: Ancient secret for better business

That first impression should be prosperity, expert recommends

Claire Bush
The Arizona Republic
May. 10, 2007

If business isn't booming, maybe it's time to bring in a different kind of efficiency expert. Creating harmony and balance in the work area can boost productivity - and the bottom line.

Feng shui is the art of placement that originated in Asia centuries ago, but its ancient principles have many applications for today's workers, whether they are operating out of a cubicle, corner office, or cubbyhole at home. Johnsen uses a nine-point grid, the bagua, to assess specific areas that need attention, whether it is career, creativity, mentors, travel and relationships.

Phoenix feng shui consultant Joy Abrams advises placing papers on a desktop weighted by a crystal, a grounding element that also represents clarity.

Next, consider the entrance to the work area. "If you own the building, make sure the lobby is professional looking, tidy and well lit. The firm's first impression should be of prosperity," says Lou Audet, a former IBM exec who launched his consulting firm, Enertran, in 1990.

The same principle applies to a work area, even if it's a cubicle.

"Just like in real estate, location is everything," Audet says. "It's important to be able to see the entrance when you're working; chairs with backs facing out can make workers feel unsettled."

If it's time to ask for a raise or hunt up some new clients, enhance the upper left or "prosperity" corner by adding a quiet water fountain, wind chimes or a mobile, Audet suggests.

If splashing water or tinkling chimes would drive co-workers batty, consider placing a picture of water flowing in - not out - in that area, says Abrams, who prefers using photos to paintings for a more realistic touch.

Fresh growing greenery in this corner can also pep up a sluggish career. Tip: don't hang downward-facing pathos or vines; the plant should grow upwards.

Pesky co-workers or clients can be soothed with a little work in the far right "relationship" corner of the work area. "Try placing a group picture of a happy corporate team in this area," Audet suggests. "Just make sure you're in the picture, too."

Need to come up with some winning ideas at the next staff meeting or plan an ad campaign for a client?

Boost your creativity by displaying a picture drawn by your children or those of a friend in the middle of the right-hand wall.

Even mentoring is factored into the feng shui system. Attract helpful people by placing a picture of a mentor or spiritual adviser in the lower right area of the workspace.

When it's time to close up shop for the day, make a quick check of the vehicle you're using to get to and fro.

Finally, have an eye toward the future.

If sunlight or a lovely natural vista isn't handy from the workspace, "hang an inspirational picture, scene or painting nearby," Abrams says. "It should be something that is meaningful to you personally and clicks with your career goals."

Last year, Susan Kricun "just wasn't feeling motivated or organized" in her home office.

"I was avoiding being in that room," she says. "It had a heavy, gloomy feeling to it."

Kricun hired Abrams to help her readjust her workspace. The two moved furniture and de-cluttered, but also made subtler changes, according to Kricun.

"We put up a mirror, hung a crystal in an adjoining bathroom and added a peace lily plant to add a 'settled' feeling in the space," Kricun recalls.

These days, she looks forward to going to work.

"I actually enjoy spending time there now instead of wanting to escape. In fact, I find myself going in my office at night and on weekends to work on projects for myself and clients."

"It's a comfortable environment, but it has a different feel from the rest of the house. When I step in the door, it feels professional," Kricun adds.

A word to the wise: before opening your wallet for a feng shui consultation, keep in mind that practitioners are not regulated and results cannot be tracked. Common sense practices should go hand in hand with Eastern mysticism.




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