Whether it’s a billion-dollar technology company or a brand-new startup, the company’s office conveys their culture and vision to whomever enters their building. Many believe that the first impression a visitor or employee experiences is their first face to face interaction with a company’s employee, but this isn’t true. The first impression someone forms of a business happens the moment they step into a company’s lobby or reception area. Does investing in the lobby or reception space matter? Absolutely! Here are a few reasons why companies should invest in their lobby.
1. First Impressions for Visitors Matter
“You only have one chance to make a first impression”. As stated above, the first impression made on a visitor to a company’s office isn’t the first time they say hi or sit down in a meeting. Their first impression is the office lobby. Even if your company has someone ready to greet visitors at the door, your office lobby is still seen first and conveys your corporate image.
But what messages are conveyed? A lobby is the first opportunity a company has to display their values and culture. For a company that touts cutting edge technology and innovation, a dark lobby with old furniture goes completely against what they are trying to sell and will stand out in any individuals mind. On the flip side, marketing companies that have vibrant colors and innovative displays that highlight past work reinforce their culture of fun and creativity that they can deliver for their clients and leave a lasting impression.
2. Improve Your Employees Morale
The previous section was entirely centered around visitors, but they aren’t the only ones who view your lobby. Arguably more important, your employees experience your lobby every single day. The lobby is the first piece of company culture your employees experience daily, and it sets the mood for an employee’s entire day. For an employee teetering on the edge between having a good day or bad day, a lobby can create a warm, welcoming environment with clear messaging or it can create a cold, uninviting environment in a seemingly cramped space. Recent studies have shown that happy employees can be 20 percent more effective than unhappy employees. While many aspects affect the happiness of an employee, influencing the start to an employee’s day through an effective lobby transformation can be a powerful tool to create happier employees.
A good lobby isn’t just able to make visitors and employees smile, it serves a purpose in establishing a brand and story. Technology, color schemes, 3D graphics, music, lighting, and more can all combine to convey messages in a truly immersive experience that helps direct an individual, whether it be internal or external, onto their next task with incredible efficiency while leaving a lasting impression.
For example, Open, in Tel Aviv, states on their website that they are a “branding and ad firm that provides positive experiences through design thinking”. For their offices, they converted an abandoned hangar and created an incredibly eclectic lobby. Complete with midcentury furnishings and movable elements, the lobby does more than just serve to put a smile on visitors’ and employees’ faces. It serves the practice purpose of reiterating the creativity and imagination the firm uses for their projects. After sitting in the lobby, any visitor will feel comforted that the firm is truly creative thinkers and be more receptive to any pitch.
4. Optimize Your Budget
Every company wants to get the most out of their design budget. As architects and interior designers know, one of the best ways to do that is to put a good percentage of the budget behind areas that receive the most foot traffic. A company’s lobby and reception are at the top of the list for foot traffic. To go even further, interchangeable aspects can hold the most value because what is driving and cutting edge one minute can become outdated the next.
Let’s use Salesforce’s San Francisco office. Instead of buying extremely large pieces of art or even painting a mural onto the wall, they installed an easily interchangeable display system. Yes, the pieces of art and mural would look great, but frequent visitors and employees would become accustomed to seeing it and the effect would become increasingly diminished. The interchangeable technology allows them to easily change the messaging, images, and graphics to be incredibly impactful regardless of how many times someone comes into the office.
How Can You Transform Your Lobby?
1. Traditional methods
One way to achieve this transformation in your corporate lobby is to use traditional methods such as bright colors, natural lighting, comfortable furniture, relaxation spaces, and more. Let’s take Ogilvy's Korean office. The company created an incredibly inviting space by utilizing exposed wood, comfortable chairs, an open layout, sleek colors, and accent lighting. For an advertising, marketing, and PR firm wanting to create an inviting space while conveying the ability to create memorable experiences, Ogilvy's use of traditional methods nailed it!
What kind of technology sets a lobby apart? Is it something as simple as a few televisions and a coffee machine? While this type of technology may help differentiate auto mechanics keep their guests happy, it doesn’t help differentiate a company’s lobby. The technology we are discussing is what we call Interactive Interior Technology. As seen in Salesforce’s San Francisco office or at the SLS casino in Las Vegas, large display technology coupled with 3D graphics is able to transform a lobby and create a powerful sense of cutting-edge innovation.
But is display technology, such as large screens and graphics the only type of technology that can differentiate an office lobby? Not at all! Motion sensors, truly intelligent systems, interactive computing, and more can all be leveraged to create truly memorable experiences that reaffirms the values and culture of any company. Imagine, a large display that automatically knows that it’s raining outside so it displays sunny images of meadow that has a customized welcome message for each guest.
A lobby’s design is important, and in this age of increased competition and digital transformation, the lobby’s design and impact are only becoming more and more important. Successfully executed, a company’s lobby is an incredibly powerful tool for making a favorable impression on both clients and employees. Unsuccessfully executed, a company’s lobby gives off a bleak feeling of being outdated and unwelcoming. Watch for more corporate lobbies to transform in the next few years. Walking into a building will never be the same!