Feng shui desk positioning, and why it matters

DesksWhen I lived in Bali, I would sometimes entertain my Balinese friends with tales of life in the West. Something that would always evoke astonishment and a great deal of laughter was explaining to them what common practice it is in western offices to position desks up against the wall. They would find this absolutely hilarious, not just because it means that people sit facing a blank wall rather than having a view of some kind, but also because they all have their backs to each other. ‘Don’t people like each other?’ they would ask me, incredulously.

Most Balinese people have never heard of feng shui, let alone studied it, but being so etherically connected to the extraordinary land energies of their island, they all have an innate sense of what feels right and what doesn’t. They can feel the energy flows that feng shui knowledge is based on.

The reason I’m prompted to write about this this today of all days is because all the furniture in my office has been moved to the centre of the room while redecorating, so instead of my usual expansive view, all I can see is two tall cupboards directly in front of me, creating the feeling of facing a solid wall. It’s only for a day, but the effect is stifling. I don’t even like to think about how it would affect me if I sat permanently like this.

The best position for a desk – as any Balinese person or western feng shui consultant knows – is facing into the room with a solid wall behind you and a view of all the doors and windows in the room. Sitting diagonally opposite (catercorner to) the door is even better still, and is known in feng shui as the ‘command position’. It is always necessary, of course, to first check that this will not place you in a geopathically or electromagnetically stressed area that could be harmful to your health. This can be tested for by dowsing for earth lines and using special meters to measure electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

If you visit the offices of successful executives, you’ll often find that they have intuitively placed their desk in the command position of the room. In fact it’s rare to meet achievers of any kind who sit looking at a wall. Facing an insurmountable obstacle generally has the effect of quashing a person’s spirit rather than inspiring them to do great things.

The worst desk position of all is sitting with your back to a door, and I have it on good authority that there is now a scientific explanation why this is. Research has shown that sitting with your back to a door releases the stress hormone cortisol, whereas sitting facing a door releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin. How cool is that? Feng shui masters have known about this beneficial effect for centuries, and now modern science is able to substantiate it.

To conclude this article, I’m mindful there may be people reading it who, for one reason or another, are not able to move their desk to a better position. In some cases there are feng shui remedies for this, and in some cases not. I don’t give personalized feng shui advice from a distance because there are too many things that can get missed that way, so please don’t email to ask. The best I can suggest, if you’re concerned, is to find a feng shui practitioner in the area where you live who is also proficient at dowsing and has professional equipment to check EMFs. At the very least, bear all this information in mind next time you set up a desk in a new home or job, so you can make wiser choices for yourself.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2013

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3 Responses to Feng shui desk positioning, and why it matters

  1. Jennifer Krumm says:

    Hi Karen

    I work as a counselor in private practice and at a high school. At my school office I have wondered about my desk placement for a long time, since I do my best to follow Feng Shui principles. If I face my desk out, facing the door, it can look like I am a receptionist and would have the desk between me and a student. Other positions are facing a wall, or out a window, which I like that, yet my back is slightly toward the door. I would like to be in the command position but wonder about this desk between me and “client” and we counselors don’t think that is good energy either. Thanks for your ideas with this.


    • Hi Jenn

      Thanks for asking this question.

      As you’ve already discovered, applying standard feng shui principles in this type of situation doesn’t produce the right effect, and having a desk between you and the student you are counselling presents a barrier to them opening to you and confiding in you.

      Before even considering feng shui, the first thing to do is to check the room for crossing points of earth lines, underground water streams and high levels of electromagnetic fields, to make sure your chair and your client’s chair are not positioned in areas where you will be exposed to any of these debilitating energies. If you’re not familiar with these topics, you can find some information on my blog in the Healthy Home section, and there are two whole chapters about Geopathic and Electromagnetic stress in my Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui book.

      Sometimes there are very few options for furniture placement after running these checks, and you just have to do the best you can with what is possible. But all being well, a good position for your desk would be up against a wall, sideways on to the door, with your client sitting between you and the door. Incline the direction of your chair towards your client, and avoid sitting with your back to the door or a window if you can.

      If this doesn’t work for whatever reason, abandon the desk completely and position the chairs as best you can, making sure you are in the most commanding position so that you run the session, not your client!

      This is very general advice and may not apply to your specific situation, but I hope you can extract the principles from it and and use them to help you in some way.

  2. Michael Draper says:

    Hi Karen,

    These days, most office layouts are determined by the accountants who arranged the lease of the floor/building, not by the people who actually work in them. The accountant’s primary objective when selecting the floor/building venue to be used for offices is to minimize the cost of the lease. The easiest way to keep the cost down is to reduce the amount of space allocated to each person who will work there – the less space allocated per person, the lower the overall floor area that has to be leased and therefore the lower the rental.

    This focus on reducing office size has lead to undesirable office layouts such as the one you have pictured above. They may be terrible to work in, but the accountants who lease these space probably get bonus based on how much they reduce their organization’s rental costs. The problem is, this is a false economy – an economy that’s easy to identify (and therefore pay bonuses for), but a false economy nonetheless.

    The trouble is that any savings in rental costs are more than offset by the impact on people’s productivity. Open plan offices are touted as the ideal layout for the modern age – the lack of barriers enables today’s knowledge workers to achieve great things through instant teamwork, camaraderie and knowledge sharing. – It’s just that there’s is no evidence to support this! Sure, there are anecdotes of close knit teams that love their open plan offices – but these are small and far between.

    In fact, over the last 20 years research has repeatedly shown that open plan and high density office layouts lower rather than raise worker productivity. With the cost of office staff far outweighing office accommodation costs in first world countries, the result is that savings in rental costs are trivial in comparison to the cost of reduced productivity among office workers.

    What continues to amazing me is that we now have generations (this problem has been known since the late 80’s, possibly earlier) of managers and accountants who firmly believe the fiction that high density open plan offices (and the horrible workspaces they give people) are the ideal solution for the modern world.

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