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As the debate around returning to work continues, this much is clear: working from home as ‘the new norm’ is undoubtedly one of the most significant lifestyle changes to come out of this year’s global pandemic. In some form at least, it appears this shift is here to stay. So, how do we ensure our home office encourages the same productivity as our former work environment? And how do we combat low motivation levels without the camaraderie of colleagues? With negative vibes and poor energy flow believed to have a significant impact on performance and subsequently, success, the answer might just be Feng Shui for your office.

A key pillar of ancient Chinese philosophy dating back some 6000 years, Feng Shui is the practice of cultivating equilibrium and positivity in everyday life through the specific arranging of spaces. Priya Sher is a London-based Feng Shui consultant with an impressive corporate and private client list (she counts the Cloud 12 Spa in Notting Hill and the Macquarie Bank in London’s historic Moorhouse building amongst her many career accomplishments). Explaining Feng Shui, which literally translates as “wind water”, she says, “All living beings need water and air to survive. The key of Feng Shui is that we live in harmony with our environment”. Its aim, notes Priya, “Is to achieve balance in your living and working space, maximising your potential for success in all areas of life.”

Priya Sher, Feng Shui Master

Awarded the prestigious title of a Master, Priya has nearly 20 years of experience and is well-versed in the benefits of Feng Shui. On a universal level, “If the Feng Shui of your home is good, it enhances your life, supporting both health and prosperity”. It’s natural, she explains, that you’ll absorb the energy of any space you spend time in, “Therefore it’s vital to optimise the energy of these spaces so that they support you”. Priya observes that “Feng shui is a very intricate practice that takes years to learn and includes having a thorough grasp of the Lopan Feng Shui compass” (this is a Feng Shui compass – above – that determines the exact direction of a place or structure.). However, by following a few thoughtful steps, she believes we can all improve the energy in our home office, whether we’re working in a cramped area under the stairs or an airy room with large windows. “These tips may seem simple,” says Priya, “But they’re incredibly effective”. 

Easy steps to Feng Shui for your Home Office
Go Green

To begin, Priya recommends having light green present within your work set-up. “The colour green relates to the element of wood, which is associated with learning and growth, and is energy that rises upwards. This makes green a particularly good colour for business growth”.

Light right

Priya also stresses the importance of good light, suggesting“Lighting that is gentle on the eyes and always avoiding tube lighting as that is too aggressive” she says.

Layouts for leaders

Next, consider the layout of your home office. Where possible, “The desk needs to be positioned so that the back of your chair has a solid wall behind it. Priya advises against “Sitting with your back to the home office door or having a window directly behind you,” you should, she says, “Have a good view of the full room”.

In Feng Shui, this is known as the “command position” which enables you to take ownership of the energy of the space and retain a heightened awareness of what’s happening in it. In turn, this boosts performance and allows you to achieve your very best. If your home office is small, try positioning the desk diagonally from the door, whilst in large rooms, aim to place the desk more centrally, always keeping a wall behind it as a strong backing and for protective power.

Light a woody candle for personal growth

To further enhance the energy of the room, Priya advocates lighting a gently fragranced woody candle at the start of each working day. “Wood is springtime energy and directly correlates with new beginnings and freshness. It is about new ideas and projects”. What’s more, wood links back to trees which Priya says “Grow upwards but have roots firmly in the earth”. She states that we want to mirror this in our home office and work life, where strong foundations are important for good growth.

Add plants for workplace wellbeing

Plants are important too; a Peace Lily placed directly on the desk is “Great for soaking in electromagnetic stress” says Priya. As the name suggests, a Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides) will support your finances if located diagonally opposite the door. This specific position is a pulse point for wealth, so avoid putting clutter or a wastepaper bin here. For indoor plants check out www.patchplants.www.patchplants.com.

A Peace Lily o your desk will absorb electromagnetic stress. This one is from patchplants.com
Declutter for an uncluttered mind

To maintain balance and calm, Priya proposes clean desks with minimal objects and papers. “As soon as you finish a project, file it away, make sure there’s no clutter and archive all old files”. This promotes greater focus and clarity of thought. In your haste to tidy away however, “Don’t place paperwork or books on the floors as it will reflect a deterioration in business or one’s career”. 

If your space permits, you can add a small table-top water fountain in the southeast corner of your home office. This will boost wealth and create a calming vibe.

Add work structure

Finally, “Stick to set hours, take regular breaks, keep work within your designated office, and avoid bringing it into other areas of your home,” says Priya. A clear separation will help you to rest and fully relax.

Following these principles will empower you to successfully Feng Shui your home office, encourage a continual flow of good energy and sustain high output levels.

You can book a consultation with Master Priya Sher via her website, priyasher.com; for visual examples of Priya’s work, follow her on Instagram@priyasher.

If you are working from home and enjoyed this article you will also like 15 ways to add more balance in your day

There’s a remote working revolution afoot – here’s the expert guide to working remotely. How to boost everything from productivity to morale to work/life balance when your work style is more nomadic than office-based, by Anna Lao-Kaim.

Working from home is no longer bookended by sarcastic “bunny ears” or considered a euphemism for a raging hangover – thankfully, and not before time, global companies are recognising the economic, social and environmental benefits of implementing flexible working policies. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s also a clear and urgent health rationale for remote working too.

Working remotely is far from a temporary measure or transient trend for many of us, however, as the dab hand freelancers, entrepreneurs and contractors among us will recognise. Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis reveals that the numbers of employees working at home has soared by 173% since 2005. Remote working is now so popular that 37% of workers would be prepared to take a 10% pay cut if it meant that they could continue working from home or away from a traditional office setting. That glossy corner office setup simply doesn’t carry the same kind of cachet that it used to.

With the emergence of efficient new tech not to mention sky-high rents and congestion levels in inner-cities, the industrial revolution 2.0 is go, only this time we’re taking business back to the kitchen table, enabling greater gender equality, commute-free flexibility and enhanced productivity (a 2019 report by Owl Labs found that remote workers are 24% more productive than office staff). Now that WFH is a respected acronym, how do we go about the ‘making it really work’ part?

Here’s how the pros get the job done…

Zoom

If you’ve not yet discovered this seamless video conferencing app, your virtual meetings with colleagues and clients are about to become Oscar-worthy productions. It works at a low bandwidth without making you sound like you’re dialing in from under the sea, functions well on mobile when you’re out and about and allows cloud recording so that you can catch up on meetings if you’re on the run or in another time zone. It’s also invaluable for 1:1s and really appreciating how your team is getting on both in terms of workload and wellbeing. Let’s face it, Whatsapp et al. don’t always tell you the full story, but slick and speedy Zoom puts the soul back into catching up with fellow solo workers.

Krisp

On the subject of video meetings, having the entire family plus dog audibly crash your crucial online AGM is never ideal. Download Krisp to quite literally cut the noise – the app allows you to both remove background noise when calling others and cut interference from the callers’ end when they speak to you. You can use it for calls, video conferencing, recording and even to create a noise-free online classroom if you’re a teacher, which will be no doubt quite the revelation for most educators.

Rocketbook

This smart notebook is an innovation that fell straight from the pages of a Harry Potter novel. Whether you love to sketch, are partial to a mind map or just love the feel of ye olde pen and paper, Rocketbook allows you to jot to your heart’s content on durable, reusable and recyclable kraft paper with a digitally enabled pen. The Rocketbook app then scans your pages to create JPGs, PDFs, GIFS and all other manner of digital files. From there you can wipe your pages clean with a microfibre cloth and begin a new masterpiece. It saves both trees and time, not to mention stops you from going square eyed in front of a screen all day long. One that’ll appeal to the arty remote workers in particular.

Slack

I conducted a wholly unscientific wisdom whip-round of work from homers and Slack was overwhelmingly the first app named as the key maintaining effective day-to-day communication and #watercooler chat. More concise than email with built in Zoom and GIF-sending functionality, it allows you to easily divide topics and tasks into channels and you can let people know if you’re on a call, having a day off or hunkering down to the task with the click of a button.

Trello

A tool that allows you and others to keep on top of to-do lists, work fluidly through project stages to make deadlines and upload collaborative files from cloud based apps such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Beats post-its and panic texts, hands down.

A JBL Bluetooth Speaker

Portable, waterproof, compact and with some seriously silky sounds, a JBL Clip speaker looks more like technical climbing gear than the boomboxes of old (the carabiner ‘clip’ can be attached to pretty much anything). A built-in microphone allows you to answer calls even if your phone is AWOL and the battery life is nothing short of epic. It pairs with all smartphones – for the perfect ‘hustling at home’ backdrop use it in tandem with the Brain FM app, designed to create the ideal ‘functional’ musical backdrop to whatever you’ve got on your plate.

exerpt guide working remotely JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Portable bluetooth speaker with integrated carabiner clip to attach to belt loop or bag.
Freedom (and a pair of trainers)

One downside to remote working is often the lack of a concrete divide between work and home – use the Freedom app across all of your devices to block out digital distractions according to your schedule. Also, seeing as you won’t participate in a mass office exodus during the lunch hour or have the ‘stop working’ impetus of Simon leaving the office at 5pm, keep your trainers by your desk as a visual trigger to go for a stroll and get some fresh air and freedom IRL.

Follow Anna on Instagram