Health & Fitness: When I was first contacted on behalf of Canon Europe last fall to prepare a report on how to use Feng Shui to aid office stress, I was sincerely thrilled that a giant technology corporation would acknowledge such an ancient science like Feng Shui to help find a cure for such a modern problem.
I was however, astounded by finding that in a report released by the European agency for Safety and Health at Work found that stress causes 50 percent of absenteeism in the EU annually and that in 2007 the EU spent 20 billion Euros in medical costs just to manage stress alone.
Then, another 2004 report by the American Institute of Stress indicated that work-related stress and accidents account for -- check this out -- as much as 75-80 percent of absenteeism and is associated with an annual cost of $300 billion (USD) to businesses in terms of diminished productivity and employee turn-over.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) -- and allopathic Medicine as well -- has known for years how detrimental the effects of stress are on people's well being. TCM in particular has very detailed insight on how exactly kidney, liver, the heart, etc. are progressively effected by lack of sleep and having the excessive accumulation of Yang stimuli on the nervous system not be counteracted by enough hours of downtime and/or sleep resulting -- progressively -- in back pain, foul mood, rage, and ultimately heart attacks. (For those of you interested in more of this information please contact me and I will point you towards a couple of good TCM books and your local, certified Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor.)
My specialty, being Feng Shui, means that day in and day out I am asked to review an office, or a business, in the effort of:
A) How to increase financial success
B) How to increase employees' performance.
Needless to say, the two are partially connected.
It is easy to understand -- for we have all experienced it -- how a stressed-out person becomes, regardless of how much he or she works, less productive. In Feng Shui we say that "His or Her Qi (Life Force Energy) is Out Of Balance". By the time the Qi manifests as out of balance in a person -- a.k.a. the person is stressed -- some additional medicine, like acupuncture, has become necessary to reverse the effects.
However, to prevent a person from becoming stressed -- and to maintain it even after it has been cured -- there are many things we can do. For one, the old Chinese rationales about maintaining good health establishes that "it is effected by the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the environment we surround ourselves with." Feng Shui helps you work on the environment you surround yourself with to make it calming and yet energizing, focusing, and productive so that you can be all of those things too.
In the Canon Report, Zen Workplace, I have covered a multitude of situations that offices, both big and small, may find themselves in when it comes to single offices, cubicles, and workstation layouts. Obviously it was not possible for me to go into extreme details as I would for a consultation on aspects like "how to increase financial success" or "how to orient each individual desk based on the year of birth of the person" simply because there are several characteristics that always make each building (and person) unique. Still, I managed to cover a lot of ground and was very please to see the success that the report encountered in the European media after it was released.
Here below, I bring you the "Top Ten Feng Shui Office Tips." Try them out and let me know how they work for you.
1.Reduce the use of glaring florescent lighting to a minimum. Natural light and fresh air are always preferable. To reduce excessive exposure and "fish-bowl-effect," use window treatments.
2. In locating a desk, whenever possible, always provide direct views to an entrance. Avoid placing an employee in a direct line with the door of an office or a cubicle.
3. Colors like green, blue-green, and blue will do well. Avoid the extensive use of white on walls. Avoid patterns, especially multiple or clashing patterns of colors or textures.
4. Plants and water in general will do well in highly stressful environments, as long as they don't create more clutter (and more stress).
5. De-clutter and organize desk and storage spaces -- including digital -- and create more storage space whenever necessary.
6. Place desks in the "power position", with the back to a solid wall rather than an open space. All desks should be "floating", rather then facing the wall, when doing most of your work.
7. In a cubicle, the main working surface should be positioned facing toward the hallway, separated with a medium-height partition.
8. For the open plan, I suggest using medium height partitions or bookshelves to reproduce the "power position" behind the employees' back.
9. Use advanced Feng Shui techniques to activate specific supportive directions based on date of birth, building orientation, and year of construction. For more information on the effects of these on business, please refer to my previous article at www.fengshuiarch.com
10. To reduce stress and promote well-being, practice a moderate and balanced lifestyle. Stress shouldn't be an excuse for poor behavior inside, or outside, the office.
By Simona Mainini