Is your work environment dressed for success?

A long, long time ago in another place and time, I thought about starting a business to help companies with the impressions they create for their customers. While that business ended up on a back burner in someone else’s house, first impressions remain important.

People become comfortable in their own spaces, whether those spaces are at home or their second home with a desk and hopefully a window. With comfort comes complacency. To some customers, it’s the little things — the inch of dust on your pictures or untidy desk — that might have them wondering if they came to the right place.

Having a little extra dust isn’t the only problem. There’s another extreme that leaves some customers feeling just as uncomfortable. Walking into an office with the character of a freshly scrubbed hospital room can have a very similar effect on people.

This week, take a look at the space around you as if you’re walking into your office for the very first time. What does it say about you? What does it say about your company? Have you made every effort to ensure that each guest who enters your office feels welcomed? The spaces in which we live and work ultimately speak volumes about who we are. If those volumes aren’t saying what you want, it’s time for a change.

If your cleaning agency is leaving dust when you think they shouldn’t, make sure to let them know. Maybe you have a problem with the lingering odors of strong-smelling cleaning chemicals. These are the types of things you might take for granted, but the effects can be disastrous.

Your office can be an extension of you in the eyes of your customers, and it really lets them know if you are referable. A cluttered desk might mean you’re unorganized and your followup might not be so good. An overly tidy desk could make a customer wonder if you’re busy enough.

Here’s a short checklist you can use to evaluate your work environment:

  • Look for hidden bunnies. Dust bunnies usually collect around electrical items, but don’t forget any blinds, shelving units and unused furniture in the room.
  • Look for clutter. Do you have unnecessary stacks on or around your office that should be eliminated? You know the ones you keep telling yourself, “Oh yeah, I have to remember to get that back in the supply closet.” The list goes on, of course.
  • Look at the ambiance. Plants offer a start to providing good ambiance in an office. Even silk plants are better than no plants at all. Consider adding a water feature to your office with a small fountain.
  • Look for outside sniffers. Find a friend who hasn’t been to your office for awhile and ask they to drop in with the specific intent of letting you know what it smells like. Our noses are really smart and eventually shut out overwhelming scents. So you might not detect certain odors. But to a customer, the smell could be overwhelming.
  • Look for the final touches. Have you made sure that you have such essentials as chilled water easily accessible for you guests? Beyond the niceties have you provided, have you put out sales materials in key locations that educate and testimonials that strengthen you reputation? These small, but crucial, elements in your office tip the scales in your favor every time. This in not a step to take lightly.

In the end, being a referable business begins with how your business presents itself to the customer on the first visit and each subsequent visit. If you dress for success everyday, make sure your workspace does the same.