Many home offices are set up in whatever space is available: in a corner of the bedroom, on the dining room table, down in the basement, or upstairs in the attic or in the guest bedroom. Some of these locations are fine places for a home office; others are not so great. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when deciding where to set up your in-home workspace.
There are essentially two kinds of home offices: home administration centres that are used for paying household bills, keeping track of the family budget and other household management tasks; and work spaces related to earning an income that are located within the home. For home administration, a corner of the kitchen counter may be sufficient. If you are working from home professionally – even if part time – it is best to have a space that is used only for that purpose in order to keep work and home energies as separate at possible.
If you hold client meetings in your home office, it is best if clients can use a separate entrance from that used by your family. That way your clients can come and go without having to pass through your living spaces, and both of your energies will remain focused on business. Clients who walk through your living space before getting to the office are likely to make a subtle shift away from a business focus, and their confidence in your professionalism or capabilities may subconsciously be weakened.
Make sure there is a clear pathway to your home business entrance, especially if it is at the side or back of the house, so your clients know which way to go when they arrive for the first time. Because office and home functions are different, your home office has its own Mouth of Chi, whether that’s a separate exterior door or a door inside the home. All of the guidelines for good doorway chi presented in Chapter 5 will be equally important for your home office.
Certain areas of the home are especially ill-suited for home office use. Here are some locations that you should avoid if at all possible:
Location: Centre of the home (tai chi)
Problem: Work will dominate over family life
Problems: Work issues may cause or contribute to relationship conflicts;
thoughts of work may interfere with sleep; you may feel drowsy and unfocused when trying to work
Location: Office in nook underneath stairs
Problem: Oppressive overhead energy may cause headaches, contribute to difficulty concentrating; unevenly shaped space causes energy imbalance; impossible to work in the Command Position
Location: Next to bathroom, with desk & toilet on opposite sides of the shared wall.
Some other situations to be alert for are rooms with low or slanted ceilings, and poor lighting or ventilation (all of which may affect an attic room). A low ceiling in your office is not good because it suppresses aspirations and keeps you focused on the details of the present rather than exploring future possibilities.
Slanted ceilings create a similar problem that is focused on one side of the room. If your office has a slanted ceiling, place your desk on the taller side of the room, and use the lower side for file cabinets, book cases, or other storage. Plants and lights that shine upward (rather than down) are good addition to rooms with low or slanted ceilings.
Basements often offer extra space to create a home office without interfering with the rest of the house. The problem with basements is that they are usually cool and damp, either inadequately lit or with harsh overhead fluorescent fixtures, and they often have poor ventilation. Windows, if there are any, may be small, dirty, and positioned so high on the wall that you can’t see out of them – not good for having a clear vision of your future direction.
Don’t despair if it seems that none of your home office options are any good. Feng shui is about doing the best you can with the space you have. If you must work in the bedroom, for example, you can set up the office in an armoire-type unit and close it up when it is not in use. A folding screen or a fabric curtain can also help to keep work and home energies separate. And if your office space has design features that are less than ideal, feng shui cures such as bells, crystals, and mirrors can help to correct them.
Stephanie Roberts is the author of the popular Fast Feng Shui book series, available at Amazon.com. Receive FR(EE) Feng Shui tips in every issue when you subscribe to the Fast Feng Shui newsletter. Visit http://www.fastfengshui.com for details.