Unpacking feng shui and how it can affect the workplace

Wikipedia describes feng shui, also known as Chinese geomancy, as a pseudoscience, which claims to use energy forces to harmonise individuals with their surrounding environment. It is closely linked to Taoism. PETA LEE explores the concept.

Feng shui, literally meaning “wind and water”, is a traditional Chinese concept linking the destiny of man to his environment. It aims to ensure that people live in harmony with their surroundings – be it in the home or in the workplace.

Mystical Eastern gobbledygook? Definitely not. In fact, feng shui has been used in architecture for thousands of years in China, and has become increasingly popular in the western world.

“Although energy is intangible, we are constantly being affected by it, either positively or negatively,” explains Elaine Hosiassohn, a feng shui consultant and teacher in Johannesburg. A master of feng shui, she founded her company Feng Shui Dynamics in 1995.

She has worked with numerous clients over the years, from small businesses to large companies, and has helped people achieve success and happiness in their workplace as well as their private spaces.

Where you live and work can have a tremendous effect on you, says Hosiassohn. “Your exterior environment also plays an important role, influencing aspects of your general well-being. Feng shui corrects the energy flow in our surroundings, enabling us to experience improved health, wealth and success.

 “If, for example, you are working in a space that has sickness or ‘mishap’ energy, you would notice people getting sick often and being prone to accidents.  Conversely, people sitting in positive energy spaces will perform well, increasing productivity. They will benefit all round from the auspicious energy.”

Feng shui, she adds, “can be applied to any business or domestic spaces. Its main purpose is to create a balanced and harmonious environment in which people can live or work. After applying these principles, a noticeable difference occurs.”

Feng shui is all about the flow of energy. “Harmonious and productive conditions can be achieved, improving wealth and abundance, increased productivity and improved relationships, allowing positive spaces for businesses and homes to flourish.”

It offers various ways to improve energy flows in your office: from using an aquarium to attract prosperity to the use of crystals, fountains or clocks for other personal goals.

Canadian feng shui consultant Rodika Tchi concurs with the importance of applying feng shui to your office environment.

“Answer some basic feng shui questions: for example, what is happening behind your seat? What do you first see as you come in? What is the quality of the air you breathe and the quality of light?”

Did you know that if you have your back to the door, window or general office traffic, your energy becomes weak and insecure? “Strong feng shui backing can be created in many ways – from placing a row of big, lush plants behind your seating area to repositioning your chair so you have the wall behind you.”

Interestingly, Tchi says angled furniture creates “poison arrows pointing in your direction”. Sha Chi (the feng shui name for poison arrows) is the attacking energy that can deplete and weaken your energy. “Try to reposition the furniture slightly so that no sharp angles point at you while you work. Or place another piece of furniture or suitable office item in front of the sharp corners to neutralise the bad energy.”

Linda Trim, CEO of Giant Leap Workspace in Gauteng, believes implicitly in the feng shui principles, and how they can help achieve balance, harmony and safety in the workplace.

“When we were asked to redesign the office space of JWT, South Africa’s oldest advertising agency, feng shui was an integral part of the design. To gain maximum benefit when including feng shui principles in a space, they need to be introduced at the initial planning stage. In JWT’s office space, we allocated the appropriate energy space to suit the people in each department according to finance, sales, creativity, wealth, human resources, technical and studios.

“We also took into account, wherever possible, employees’ birth details to allow them to work according to their personal auspicious directions. The result was a beautiful blend of harmony and efficiency,” she says.

Outcomes like this are increasingly inspiring architects, builders and decorators worldwide to incorporate feng shui principles into their work. While it was once regarded as an obscure philosophy, feng shui is now a tool of the trade in the west, and rapidly becoming a standard inclusion when designing commercial and domestic properties.

“It’s heavily practised in Manhattan. Brokers are starting to take courses in feng shui, because it helps them market their property better,” says a veteran broker in downtown New York.

United States president Donald Trump has the last word: “You don’t have to believe in feng shui for it to work. I just know it brings me money.”

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