You have one shot at a first impression: here's why you can’t ignore your lobby
The fitout and design of your office should embody and project the vision, values, and personality of your business. The face of your office - the first thing your employees, clients, and external stakeholders see when showing up - is your lobby or reception area.
As Tyler Brûlé at Monocle describes of those moments of “office envy” when “you find yourself sensing that you’re in for a bit of a treat the second you glide into a lobby.” It’s these moments that we should be trying to garner with the welcome spaces in our offices. When you’ve only got one shot at a first impression, your reception area is going to have to do the heavy lifting.
It’s not just visitors that’ll be silently thanking you for a sharp lobby. The benefits extend far beyond. Here's what paying attention to your lobby could mean for business.
If you think of your company’s mission statement as being a shorthand way of telegraphing everything about your business, the lobby is the spatial equivalent. Think about the lobbies of other businesses in a variety of sectors: the hotel lobby projects care and diligence, the gym lobby is often a bit of a hangout before and after classes that is conducive for a feeling of community.
This same approach can be taken to your business, and one that is as important for your employees as it is to visitors: the first point of contact each morning to those inside your organisation should stand for everything you’re about.
Inc. points out that in a lobby or “in reception, an individual may find themselves alone for a span of a couple of minutes to half an hour or more. During this time, the primary focus triangulates environmental awareness between the branded design, room layout, and ‘flow’ (people walking back and forth without direct interaction). These controllable factors create the first impression.”
Think about what your lobby says about you along these three factors.
For those in office real estate, a killer lobby will go a long way to court potential tenants, showing them what's possible when they rent or purchase vacant space in the building.
Building Design + Construction noticed a recent redesign of Capella Tower in Minneapolis both made the most of once-dead space as well as showing prospective businesses the value of office space in the building. “The renovation of the first and second level building lobbies transformed under-utilised retail space into a vibrant third workplace, café, and lounge. The newly opened space is now a significant factor in the leasing and re-leasing of the building”.
This same mentality can be applied within an office as well. Some businesses are picking up on the potential the reception area has a place for their own employees to get away from their desks and zone in some deep work. Not only will your staff appreciate the variety of space they have access to, but they’ll often be able to assist visitors more casually and personally than a dedicated receptionist.
As Ted Dhanik of engage:BDR wrote for Fast Company, “the sitting area in our lobby has comfy couches where people from different departments, socialise, brainstorm, and often come up with awesome ideas”.
Spending in areas that receive the most foot traffic is a good rule of thumb for modern office design. And nowhere gets as much traffic as your lobby or reception area.
Inc. again has some quality recommendations. “Invest in key pieces such as durable, sustainable flooring and a high-end reception desk. [...] Look for furniture that achieves multi-functionality and technology integration. And remember to use classic design pieces that appeal to different senses while communicating your brand without cluttering the floor space”.
Don’t ignore the full suite of senses either: office plants, natural light, suitable music, and even aromatic diffusers if appropriate to your business.
Your lobby is where each work day begins. Pay it the attention it deserves so that this key area is tastefully branded, welcoming to visitors and communicating your values, and inspiring your staff so that they can be proud about their office every morning.