When you’re running a business, whether it’s a retail operation or office based, delivering services or products, the most important thing is the first impression you make on your clients. What they see when they come to your ‘front door’ determines how successful your pitch will be, whether you’re trying to persuade them to buy the clothes you stock or sign on with you for a lucrative retainer.
The first impression you make tells a potential client whether they want to do business with your kind of company, or potential recruits if they want to work there! On the most simplistic level, if they’re looking for the stability implied by a traditional office, you’ll have to work hard to win them over if they find you’re working in the sort of open, quirky space favoured by modern creative companies. On the other hand this kind of workspace appeals to companies immersed in modern start-up culture, and will help you attract clients and talent that suit your company culture.
With many businesses moving to large, open plan office spaces, creating this impression is more about how your chosen materials, furnishings and layout invoke a particular mood. Dark woods and leather seats imply traditionalism, whereas bright colours and a mix of styles suggest a more modern firm.
It’s clear then, that the first thing you have to think about when you’re constructing your first impression for clients is your premises. If you have the resources behind you, the ideal solution is to work with a specialist design firm who deal with corporate and retail design, like Hyphen Architecture to create the plans for your office. A collaboration with a firm that specialises in workspaces, shop floors and corporate architecture is an evolving conversation: you have to communicate not just simple facts like how many meeting rooms you require and the capacity of your salesfloor. You also need to talk about the culture and values you want your offices to convey. Your designers will turn these aspirations into plans, which you can refine and perfect until you’ve struck the perfect balance between your ideal plans and what’s possible within your budget and resources.
If you don’t have the budget to completely rebuild your premises into the office of your dreams, you’ll have to scale back your ambitions a little. Using the limited resources you have effectively can still have a big effect on your company culture, and provide an effective public face to show to visiting clients.
Redesigning your reception area, key meeting rooms or a public space like a breakout room allows you to greet people in an environment that exemplifies your company culture to them, and the as long as it is also open for employees to use as well, your whole workforce will get the benefit of this injection of creativity and invention to inspire them to greater and greater heights. Ikea’s headquarters in Sweden was designed by Nanna Lagerman to include a ‘creative hub’ with spaces furnished to produce different responses in people. One even allows employees to literally write on the walls!