It's no secret how important first impressions are. Psychologists, marketing executives, and scientists alike have researched the impact of a first impression, and the results are clear: get it right, because you only get one shot.
The first impression your office makes is like a promise of what's to come. Your reception area speaks to the culture and values that guide your business. The image that's reflected here sets the tone for all future interactions.
So, what promise do you make to people who enter your office space?
Of course, the employee working at reception will make the greatest impact on how visitors perceive your organization. There isn’t an element of design that can outshine a friendly, smiling face. That being said, design and aesthetic also go a long way toward creating an inviting atmosphere for your guests.
The following ideas will leave visitors wanting more of what your organization has to offer, as opposed to driving them back out the front door:
Bring nature in
Humans feel better about life when they're amidst nature – research has proven as much. What does this mean for your reception design? Enliven the space with flowers and greenery; create tranquility using water features; add depth and texture using wood, brick or concrete. Even the portrayal of nature - through scenic artwork – will have the desired effect. The overall result will draw guests in to your space and put them at ease.
Keep it clean
Greeting guests with cluttered or unclean surfaces sends all the wrong messages. Nothing insinuates, "we don't care about our business," like an unkempt office space. Commit to cleanliness and organization - especially in the office's first point of contact.
Comfort is king
You may have the most visually stunning reception space, but if the furniture is uncomfortable, beauty won't matter. Five minutes in an awful chair is five minutes too long. Alternatively, sitting in a cozy, inviting chair is a pleasant experience. One that lets guests know you value their presence in your office.
The right light
Although they serve a purpose, fluorescent lights do little to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Instead, choose fixtures that feel homey and inviting. Of course, whenever the option is available, allow the natural light from windows to create a bright and airy ambiance.
First off, try not to force your visitors to spend excessive amounts of time in reception. However, since it's unavoidable that they’ll have to spend some time waiting, the least you can do is keep them entertained. We’ve all sat in an office with nothing but haggard, outdated magazines – don’t be that office. Instead, provide pertinent, timely reading material to keeep guests occupied.
Furthermore, if it makes sense for your business, integrate technology in your waiting area. Have TVs or tablets available to showcase your social media or highlight your latest innovation.
In the end, think about the promise you make to the people who walk through your door. That first impression is difficult (if not impossible) to erase, so it should authentically reflect the vision and values of your organization.
As with all aspects of design (and life), there isn't a one-size-fits-all formula. Our consultants can help tailor your reception design to the goals, values, and culture of your organization. Reach out today to arrange a complimentary design consultation.
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