A client’s first impression of your company is important. Your workspace can help your company put its best foot forward with considered client and visitor experience.
We all know that we shouldn’t make snap judgements based on first impressions (the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ comes to mind), but here’s the thing: we do it anyway. Research from Princeton University shows that we make judgements based on visual first impressions after just one tenth of a second. “We decide very quickly whether a person possesses many of the traits we feel are important, such as likeability and competence,” says Princeton psychologist Alex Todorov.
The same thing is true of companies. Your office says a lot about you: it embodies your brand, showcases company culture and makes a first impression. And when it comes to client and visitor experience, first impressions count. Which is exactly why the user journey should play a deciding part in workplace design.
We’re in the middle of designing and building our next office space – a space that takes visitor experience to heart. “I’m going to choreograph the experience of arriving at our new office, and it’s driving some of the aesthetics of the design as well,” says our Design Director Nic Pryke.
Presentation is actually a crucial resource that can boost talent attraction and generate business. Millennials are forecast to constitute 75% of the global workforce by 2025. When you consider that 85% of Millennials say they’d be more inclined to accept a position at a company with a well-designed workspace, office design becomes a real necessity for attracting the best talent now and into the future. It’s not purely a Millennial trend either; 79% of all employees surveyed in our annual workplace report said workplace design would influence their acceptance decisions.
It’s the same with clients – a better client and visitor experience in the workplace will lead to an increase in potential business. The same report found that 85% of British employees agree that visitors and clients judge a company based on its workplace. So, it’s advantageous to use your office to present yourself in the best possible light. Starting with the kinds of things you want to communicate to someone who walks through your doors.
“When a client arrives, I want to take them on a journey through the office, and I want the office to inform them about all sorts of different things, so that it’s useful to them and they learn as they go about our workspace,” explains Pryke. The way your workspace looks, functions and the way visitors move through it, send a powerful message about your company – how you operate and what you’re like to work with. It’s an opportunity to quite literally showcase what you’re made of.
By considering the user journey, showcasing your work and reflecting your people in the design of your workspace, you can curate a visitor’s initial experience of your company, shaping their first impressions at the same time.
Consider the user journey
Understanding the way people will move through your workplace is an integral part of developing a floorplan. From the moment someone enters reception, they begin a physical journey through your space, whether they go find their desk and start their workday, or are greeted and shown to a meeting room. We designed our South office based on visitor experience. Design Director Laurence Shanks explains that the team studied typical user experiences before agreeing on a layout; “when you visit someone’s office, you get greeted, you have a coffee with them and then you go and have your meeting – that’s how we’ve designed our space. There’s a greeting area, then you go through to the teapoint, then to the meeting rooms.”
Showcase your work
What better place to show people your work than right where it all happens? Displaying awards or ongoing projects is a great way to show visitors that you take pride in what you do. Equally as engaging is showing how you do what you do, by incorporating active workspace in the typical user journey. “When visitors pass through an area where design is happening, they should see loads of sketching, some of it carefully positioned, some of it displayed on walls, they should see lots of the output of a design team – it needs to feel and look like a design studio,” says Pryke of our new Clerkenwell headquarters.
Reflect your people
Openly showcasing current projects isn’t always practical, but the look and feel of your workplace should still reflect the people in it. Your company’s aesthetic is a very tangible representation of your brand. Getting the hearts and minds of your employees involved in the design of your new space is important in terms of successful transition management (we’ve explained each stage of the workplace lifecycle if you’d like to learn more), but it will also lead to higher productivity and wellbeing.
A series of studies conducted by Dr Craig Knight demonstrated that workspaces occupants were allowed to decorate saw a 32% increase in productivity and an overall improvement in wellbeing. If a client (or job candidate) sees a happy, successful workforce, they’ll be more confident that you could make them happy and successful too.
The components of a successful client experience are integral parts of good office design: it all comes down to considering the journey through the space during the development of the brief. Your workspace is your most powerful tool for communicating your capabilities to your clients. “You can explain it, but it’s much easier for them to see it,” says Pryke. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a space is worth a million.