Image of open plan office.

What Feng Shui says about your office space

26 August 2016

Feng Shui holds significant influence over many business people in China. So what's it all about?

What is Feng Shui

Feng Shui - two Chinese words that literally mean "wind" and "water". Originating from China, it is a complex belief system that deals with the relationship between people and their surroundings and is often used in household designs to help boost prosperity, good health, and fortune.

It will often take years of study to fully master the wisdom of Feng Shui. Some people make a living out of it, training to become Feng Shui Masters, and offering consultations to enable people to set up their homes to maximise the Feng Shui. However, not everyone is a believer; many people view it with the same suspicious attitude as they have towards horoscopes and Tarot cards, or consider it total mumbo-jumbo.

On a personal level, I believe Feng Shui is a practice which enables people's moods to be lifted and helps them to live comfortably and work efficiently. While some Feng Shui principles are difficult to understand, some are very logical and are more commonly accepted by people in the modern age. Below are a few of these Feng Shui rules which aim to help people in the workplace.

How to use Feng Shui to boost your productivity 

1. Place a plant on your desk

Plants symbolise life and energy. A thriving green plant is said to attract good fortune and absorb bad energy. In an office setting, it is common for the Chinese to put small plants on their desks. However note that not every plant is the right one. The plant should be about six inches tall, with big round leaves. The bigger the leaves and the more leaves there are the better, since it is the leaves that absorb the bad energy. An example of a good desk plant is an evergreen. A cactus on the other hand will not provide much Feng Shui assistance at all with some believing that the sharp needle-like leaves lead to bad relationships with your colleagues!

2. Sit with your back to the wall

From the perspective of Feng Shui, the best position for a house is one that faces water with its back to a mountain. Applying the same principle to a workplace, you should sit with your back to a solid wall. Here the wall represents the mountain and a solid foundation that will help your career. In contrast, a bad Feng Shui position would involve you sitting with your back to a corridor; the corridor does not provide good Feng Shui and on a more practical note it is where people often walk which may make it difficult to focus on your work.

If it is not possible to change your seat, consider sitting on a chair with back support, or putting a screen behind your seat in place of a wall to separate yourself from the bad energy.

3. Keep a clear desk

As with the saying "a clear desk is a clear mind", Feng Shui believers also support the idea of having a tidy desk. A messy workspace and sharp objects will attract bad luck, so it is better to keep your desk uncluttered and put away scissors and staplers in safe positions.

Some people will put fewer objects on the right side of the desk based on the rule of "Azure Dragon on the left, White Tiger on the right". Azure Dragon and White Tiger are two mythological creatures of ancient China, and the White Tiger, which sits on the right, represents negative energy and should not be disturbed. A modern explanation for fewer objects on the right side is not to hinder the movement of your mouse!


After reading the tips above, do you feel any wiser, or do you think it's all superstition? Whatever you feel about it, Feng Shui still influences a large number of people doing business in China. Next time when you have a meeting with a Chinese client, the Azure Dragon may be a good conversation starter!