A photo of Doug Rotherham

Doug Rotherham

I'm a UX/UI Designer – working from home since the start of COVID-19. This is where I share everything I'm learning about creating a beautifully productive home office.

What happens when you invite three different Feng Shui “experts” to design the interior of a house?

Comedy illusionists Penn & Teller decided to find out in an episode of their TV show: Bullshit!

It turned out that all three experts gave different and conflicting advice on how to design the home according to principles of Feng Shui.

So does that mean Feng Shui is without any merit? And what even is Feng Shui? 

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice that claims to balance the energy force (Qi – pronounced “chee”) among different elements (metal, earth, fire, water and wood) to create a harmonious space. 

When it comes to your home office, practitioners of Feng Shui generally recommend:

  • Keeping your bedroom and office separated
  • Removing clutter 
  • Improving natural light and airflow
  • Positioning your desk with a view of the door
  • Decorating with colours and items that inspire and motivate

Not exactly out there, is it?

Feng Shui is a pseudoscience, which means that its claims of “balancing energy forces” cannot be tested using the scientific method. 

But a growing body of scientific evidence does show that incorporating natural elements into our built environments can reduce stress while increasing productivity, creativity and wellbeing.

Known as Biophilic Design, it’s based on the hypothesis that humans have an innate need to connect to nature because we've depended on it for our evolutionary survival.

Here’s what studies into Biophilic Design recommend when it comes to your home office:

  • Removing clutter 
  • A plant or two on your desk
  • Improving natural light and airflow
  • A view of nature (or images of nature)
  • Surfaces with woodgrain
  • Positioning your desk with a view of the door (for a sense of prospect and safety)

Wait a minute! Biophilic Design looks a lot like the basic principles of Feng Shui. This intersection between the two concepts is the hard-wired desire of humans to feel connected to nature.

But unlike Feng Shui, Biophilic Design is backed by science and isn’t concerned with intangible concepts like the flow of qi.

So get cracking on making your office more biophilic. Decorate it with things that inspire you … and skip the Feng Shui guru!

Design trends

Plantspiration

Want to make your home office more biophilic? Those fiddle-leaf figs and giant monsteras sure are très cool at the moment. But they’re expensive and tend to dominate your desk space. So check out this guide to the best desk plants that don't cost a fortune.

The best desk plants for every kind of at-home office

Insta worthy?

A recent study confirmed that 25% of people who work-from-home in the UK are embarrassed by their background during video calls, with 38% planning on improving their home office in 2021. And after analysing the most-liked home offices on Instagram, the study claims to have cracked the formula for the perfect home office design.

How to design the perfect home office according to Instagram

Productivity tips

Zoom and gloom

Speaking of video calls, researchers at Stanford University have identified the causes of the phenomenon commonly known as “Zoom Fatigue”. The good news is, they’re relatively easy to fix.

Stanford researchers identify four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes

Power hour

You’ve heard of the power nap. Well, now there's the “power hour”. It claims to boost productivity by taking an hour each week for quiet reflection and big thinking. Learn more about it in this short video by author Dan Pink.

[Video] This is how to carve out an hour a week to think big

Tech tools

Keyboard warriors

Mechanical keyboards are so hot right now. Why? They look and sound cool. Plus, they’re more responsive and help you type better. What started as a trend among gamers is pretty much mainstream now. Get up-to-speed with this guide from The Wirecutter.

The best compact mechanical keyboards

Downtime on the down-low

If you’re an iPhone user, you’ve probably used the "Do Not Disturb" feature. But do you know about the "Downtime" feature? I only discovered it this week. It allows you to silence certain apps and contacts at certain times. Perfect for those annoying slack and email notifications when you're trying to switch off.

How to use iOS tools to create better work-life balance

Sharing is caring

Can you do me a favour? Share this newsletter with one person you think needs to see it.

I’m about ready to start creating YouTube videos for Home Office Inspo with my shiny new Sony ZV1 camera

But first, I need to go and move my desk! Until next week, do your best work.

~ Doug. 

Is Feng Shui a load of BS?