4 Ways Visitors Are Judging Your Office
According to Forbes
, they say it takes just 7 seconds to make that all important first impression and that goes for you and your office space. Decisions such as whether you’re best to approach or avoid, whether you’re trustworthy, competent, reliable, likeable and yes, even whether you’re worth doing business with; these are all snap decisions we make based on our surroundings and sensory input in those first, vital seven seconds.
So, what can you do to help make sure those seven-second judgments work in your favour? It’s all about the non-verbal cues, so you can be laying on all the charm you like, but if your nonverbal cues aren’t meeting expectations, then it could all be a wasted effort. Here are the 4 nonverbal cues that you need to get right if your office is going to help you make the right first impression.
We like to call them the four A’s.
From the exterior of the building, through to the reception area, along the corridors and finally when you open the door to your office, any new visitor will be building up a visual impression of your business, every step of the way. Are you untidy? Does it all look a bit unkempt and uncared for? Can you not be bothered? Is it well signposted and organised? Is it well thought out? Comfortable? Welcoming? Chic? Classy? Quirky?
These are all judgements that can be made on appearances alone. It’s important, especially if you’re renting an office
in a larger complex that your landlord keeps the building well maintained and those communal areas are clean, tidy and well looked after. Then once a visitor enters the building, if it’s well signposted, tidy and organised it can really help to start building a positive opinion of your business.
Then when visitors finally arrive at your front door, it’s important that your workspace matches your brand used elsewhere. Often, people will do their research before meeting with a business partner for the first time, so you need to have consistent branding across all your customer touchpoints. A beautifully sleek website followed up with a visit to a shabby looking office could cause a potential client to reassess your business while they’re still in the doorway.
Once you’ve got your appearances up to scratch, it’s important not to forget about the other senses too, in particular, the sense of smell. Smells are often used to judge whether something or indeed somewhere, is clean or dirty and nobody wants to do business in a ‘dirty’ office. Regularly open windows, especially throughout the winter months to circulate fresh air through your office before visitors arrive to flush out any food smells or fustiness.
Equally, by mindful of overly strong perfumes and aftershaves; you may love that smell, but it doesn’t mean everyone else will. Smells are one of the primary senses we use to form memories and it can be hugely evocative, particularly when a smell has negative associations.
Your best bet for an office aroma is to stick to something subtle, neutral or business appropriate such as coffee, paper and books, leather, ink and so on (yes, all these things do have scents).
Moving on to third sense you need to accommodate when you’re trying to make the right first impression: sound. The ideal office sound is the buzz of busy workers. It’s a sound that suggests you are busy, successful and committed to getting the job done, and these are all desirable qualities in a potential business partner.
Music that’s too loud (unless music is your business of course), lots of non-work related chatter and other intrusive sounds such a banging and clattering can lead to a negative first impression, so try and be aware of the acoustics in your office.
Equally, it’s important that you have a quiet space on hand for when business discussions need to get serious. This suits the situation and ensures you can hear each other talk.
The final factor that is crucial when it comes to first impressions is your attitude, and this can easily be conveyed with nonverbal cues that reveal a lot about your hospitality and company culture.
You need to think about how people are greeted when they first arrive, is it a professional handshake, a warm hello or a friendly pat on the back? Whatever you decide is right for your business, be aware that it reveals a lot about who you are. On top of this, are things such as whether or not you offer them a drink, and even what drinks you offer from tea, coffee, coke…a beer? All of this reveals what kind of service or treatment they can expect if they do decide to work with you going forward.
Company culture can be revealed when it comes to private workspaces. If staff have personal items on the desks it can demonstrate their personalities and that your company encourages them to bring their whole selves to work but equally, depending on exactly what’s on display, it may reveal a side of the business visitors don’t need to see, so it’s careful balancing act.
Blackboards, whiteboards, flip charts and other items can demonstrate your approach to innovation and education in the company and how you’re investing in your team and planning for the future.
All in all, your office space says a lot about your business so be mindful of the four A’s if you’re concerned you might not be making the right kind of impression. Make sure your landlord is on the same wavelength too and invest in a space where the building exterior is well maintained and the reception team and other associated staff are warm, welcoming and friendly.