Starting a Business

Put It In Its Place

Keep your business strong by following these tips for creating a productive work environment.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the August 2000 issue of . Subscribe »

You spend at least 40 hours a week in your workspace-for some of you, it's more like 60 or 70 hours-and besides being tired, you may find yourself headachey, cranky and generally unhappy. It may not be the workload that's got you down, but the environment you're working in. Feng Shui can help. Its basis is about creating health, harmony and prosperity. Combine that with Bau-biologie, the German science of the effect of the built environment on humans, and you have a working system to maximize the health of your company. Carol Cannon, founder, CEO and president of Environmental Placements Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida, combines these disciplines to create productive environments for her clients. She recently shared with us her insight on keeping your business strong.

  • Know your history. Buildings are like countries: The settlers that came first have a direct impact on you. In other words, a business that was in your space before you leaves its emotional imprint. "Try to find out who was in your space because their energy [can] linger. What happened to them has a good chance of rubbing off on you," says Cannon. Sound like hocus-pocus? Think good karma. Rather than inherit space left by a bankrupt business, wouldn't it be better to move in to a space because your predecessor did so well, they had to move on to better things?
  • Use your senses. When you first walk into the building, keep track of what you see and smell. Does it smell musty or unusual? "That could be a sign that the air quality is suffering because of mold and things," says Cannon. Also be mindful of what you see on the outside of your building. Is it beautiful, with a fountain and lots of healthy greenery? Or is it all dead plants, a barren wasteland? "There should be some color and a sense of aliveness when you're walking into your office," adds Cannon.
  • Clear the air. You want to use as many natural elements as possible in your space. Air out your carpeting before you lay it with nontoxic adhesive. This prevents unhealthy "off-gassing" that can make breathing miserable. If it's too late for that, "bring in an ozone machine to clear the air and absorb the negative off-gassing," says Cannon. Use it on a weekend when no one is in the space, and breathe easier.
  • Watch the electricity. Be aware of the high-voltage or electrical areas in your space. Electro-magnetic fields can be harmful, too. "If people are really close to highly electrical sources, such as the building mechanic's room or a high-voltage room," says Cannon, "it can have an effect on [your] health, and it can start playing games with your computers." Have the electric company or a certified Bau-biologist do an electrical reading before you decide how to lay out your space.
  • Move your desk. The position of your desk can impact your energy levels immensely. "The most powerful position is caddy corner, opposite of your main door. You should be looking in the direction of the door but not with your desk directly in line," says Cannon. The door is the main entrance for Ch'i, the life force element. Cannon says you want good, healthy Ch'i entering your office, but not too much. Also, if your back is to the door, you may find people constantly surprising you, thus depleting your energy. If you must sit this way, Cannon suggests putting a mirror on your desk so you can see who enters your office.

With a combination of Feng Shui and Bau-biologie, you can create a harmonious workplace using 4,000-year-old principles modified for today's technological advances. "We try to balance the effects of buildings and bring in technology, but we also remember that we're dealing with splendor and nature and that humans have to live and work in these buildings," says Cannon. "Our premise is that if the building is healthier, then the people will be. When it comes to productivity, there will be less down time and fewer illnesses. They'll be happier." Something every boss wants to hear.

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