It all starts here….
Your lobby at home says a lot about you. Is it welcoming and stylish or cold and draughty, devoid of character? That might sound a bit harsh but if your lobby isn’t inviting, why would people want to visit?
The lobby is the point at which you first engage with a visitor, just as it is the first point of engagement with home for a family member. How it feels and how it represents you sets the tone for the interactions that follow.
The same premise can be applied to the lobby at our place of work. The prevalence of multi-tenanted buildings in some cases has stripped the lobby of character so that quite often it provides a “vanilla” palette, offensive to no one, but let’s face it, no one’s favourite ice cream either.
The lobby is where we make our first interactions of the day, with the building, with each other and a bland, cold featureless lobby gives you a negative experience before you’ve really woken up. If you had a choice, would you start your day with high energy, setting a positive intention of how you want the day to go? The lobby can help with that if it’s designed with people in mind.
I am a nomadic worker. I work for myself and I work whenever and wherever I need to be. I guess you could say I’m homeless in the traditional sense that I don’t have one office to call home. I’m a part-time member of two co-working spaces on one on each island and am becoming an expert judge of character when it comes to lobbies. I spend a lot of time in them, both having meetings and between meetings especially in Auckland. I know which are best for me to work in, which have wi-fi and which make you feel welcome even when you’ve finished your coffee. I’m loathe to credit them by name as they will be like the secret beach that once it’s been in the travel magazine isn’t quite so secret anymore but perhaps next time you are out and about see which ones resonate with you.
Speaking of coffee, cafes in lobbies are fantastic, they create somewhere that people can mingle and strip away hierarchy. If you meet the CEO in the coffee queue it shows they are human and accessible (and like a soy mocha perhaps!), if you meet them in the board room that might not be the case.
Some lobbies I have been hanging out in lately provide such a great experience it would be easy to stay there all day. They have a positive vibe, a variety of spaces to meet/eat and work in and are buzzy. It’s fantastic to see landlords and tenants acknowledging the importance of people’s experience from the minute they enter the building and catering to the evolving way they we work.
Consider your lobby when you next arrive at work, what could be done to improve the vibe? Who would you like it to appeal to? As well as staff there is potential to bring your brand front and centre to showcase who you are and what you do and thus appeal to clients. Can you add in some design features, be they furniture or planting, to soften the space, make it more welcoming and human scale and perhaps encourage people to stay and interact with each other or with your product? Interaction creates connection which leads to improved wellbeing and positive perception.
Staff and visitor experience starts when they enter the building not just the workspace, let’s consider how to make the first impression count.