Why Your Office Space Matters
When I visit a firm for the first time, I always take a good look around. In general, I would classify my first impressions as generally neutral to positive. But every once in a while, there’s an office space that leaves me with an exceedingly positive (or negative) feeling.
It should be said that I’m not one who is overly influenced by aesthetics, and first impressions are subjective. Still, I do believe that your office space matters. It can separate you from the crowd and just may help turn that prospect into a client.
Let’s start with an example of a fictitious office to illustrate all of the worst characteristics that I’ve seen over the years:
At first glance, I notice that the office—a converted house—has no landscaping and a small gravel driveway. Upon opening the rusty door, things don’t get better: there’s a stained 1980s-style carpet to greet me, along with a white cat that immediately starts rubbing against my black pants. The makeshift reception area appears to be missing a receptionist, while the low ceiling, dingy beige walls, and various bric-a-brac create a sense of claustrophobia. It’s clear that the office’s vintage furniture has passed its expiration date, and water running in the bathroom and kitchen can be heard throughout the house. Once I’m finally greeted by a human, the walk to the conference room reveals more frayed rugs and dirty curtains, along with an unappealing rim of dust around the baseboards and furniture.
This isn’t a real place, but this scenario isn’t as unusual as you might think. Why? When the erosion of your office environment is gradual, it can be hard to see—and you may not realize the effect it can have on clients, prospects, and staff. But research shows that it takes just seven seconds to form a first impression, and a bad first impression can be extremely hard to change.
Now it’s time to consider the opposite end of the spectrum. Let’s take a look at two (real) firms that have taken their office space to the next level and used it to communicate their vision.
DeBoer Financial Group (Roseville, California). Jeffrey DeBoer, ChFC®, of DeBoer Financial Group, moved into his office in 2015 after extensive planning and design. It is one of several within a professional office park, although the one-story building looks more like a home in a residential area.
DeBoer and his team decided to name their space “The Experience,” a clear indication that their clients come first. Indeed, the firm’s clients are like family, so DeBoer wanted the office to feel both comfortable and classy. Review meetings, for example, are held in a den-like room with a leather upholstered sofa, chairs, and a coffee table, plus a monitor mounted above the fireplace where statements, financial plans, and reports can be presented. But it doesn’t stop there! The office space also provides an ideal spot to offer creative, intimate client events, such as an Iron Chef competition, which had the DeBoer team and clients donning aprons in the office café and dining room.
The new space has benefited the office staff as well. As DeBoer explains, “It is important for all of us to work together in an environment that we truly enjoy. It has made a world of difference to be able to work out in the gym, cook breakfast together as a team, or share a bottle of wine in the dining room—all without leaving the office.”