In its simplest form, an office is just a place you work. Some of us have home offices or use our local Starbucks as an office – others work in huge offices with floor-to-ceiling windows atop towering skyscrapers. But no matter where your office is or what it looks like, it’s saying something about your business.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in a customer-facing office. If your clients come into your space to do business, then your office is at least partially customer-facing. Law offices, credit unions, banks, and many other types of business invite their customers and clients into their space, and that means that appearances become very important.
Every customer-facing office needs to be clean and neat. It should feel well-kept and convey a sense of professionalism and competence. That means no ripped upholstery, no stains, and no old furniture that’s falling apart. Sagging ceiling tiles or ragged carpets tell customers and clients that your business doesn’t pay attention to the details, and that’s a very bad thing.
Of course, not all offices need to have the same vibe. For a PR or advertising firm, a sleek and modern office is a near necessity. A business like this has to show clients that it is tuned into the zeitgeist and ready to use that to help clients reach modern customers effectively. A psychiatrist’s office, on the other hand, would prioritize comfort. A law office that deals with estate law for wealthy clients might try to mirror the aesthetics its clients prefer – for instance, such an office in a wealth New England suburb full of old-money families might opt for mahogany bookshelves full of leather-bound books.
The styles here may vary wildly, but the basic rule – that the space must be clean, well-kept, and convey a sense of professionalism and attention to detail – remains.
Your Employees and your Office
Even if your customers and clients never see your office, the environment you create there is absolutely essential.
A sales team that works entirely over the phone and online doesn’t necessarily need a stunning office to impress clients. But they do need a great office to be at their most productive. If you don’t believe that, take your laptop to an unusual spot and try to work for a day in an unfamiliar and disruptive environment. You can try to work on the subway (most transit systems have Wi-Fi now) or at the local McDonald’s (sit right next to the kid’s play area). You probably won’t get much done!
The difference between a new desk and an old one is subtler than the difference between your office and a smelly subway car, but the principle is the same. Every small problem with your office environment – from the ugly color of the walls to the one desk drawer that sticks – affects your employees’ productivity. Look at the purchase of new office furniture as an investment in your company. You may be surprised to find that a great office environment pays for itself in the form of increased productivity and profits.
Whether your office is customer-facing or entirely internal, the way you arrange and maintain it says something about your company. Choose to say the right things – while a great office environment doesn’t come cheap, it’s an essential investment in your company’s future.