Work space has been undergoing a transformation as technology, mobility and the nature of work is changing. And these changes are transforming client-facing spaces as well, reflecting customer-centricity.
“Companies are increasingly looking to create innovation centers to showcase their solutions to customers,” observed Kay Sargent, Senior Principal and Head of Workplace at HOK. “Sometimes these spaces are so beautiful that people do not want to touch them, but there is an evolution underway to make these spaces beautiful, accessible and interactive. Companies are creating innovation centers to highlight their ingenuity to attract employees and customers and instill trust and faith from potential investors.” You will see these trends even in retail spaces with the growth of interactive exhibits and engaging brand activations.
One technology business completely rethought their client-facing space in a recent move and remodel. “Instead of a traditional lobby design, our team created a hub for the company, including a full kitchen and living room type area where employees, guests, clients, and prospective clients can enter, grab a drink and relax in a community-centric area,” said Jenny O’Donnell, Director at Wildmor Advisors. “If we look at office design 20 years ago, group spaces were shoved to the perimeter. They weren’t supposed to be disruptive to the quiet, focused activity that was the real work,” Roger Heerema with Wright Heerema Architects recalls. “What we have realized in the creative process, that serendipitous interactions are powerful for the work effort. This has changed building design.” This is true not just for employees, but for clients as well. Now instead of a “waiting room" style lobby for the interim seating of guests before they are whisked away to a work area,” the design is more interactive. “Open and common areas are now powerful and contributory spaces to the overall work effort.” This is in recognition that customer meetings do not just happen in conference rooms.
Heerema observed that “wellness has three components: social, food and fitness.” Building strong client relationships can take clues from these characteristics of wellness. Creating compelling social interactions, celebrating innovation and food, is a start, and it can be extended. For instance, “a lot of companies request a grand staircase that can double as an amphitheater,” said Scott Delano, Design Director at Wright Heerema. “There is design magic in stairs. It isn’t just a hole in the ceiling where people change floors or a closed portal like an elevator. There is physical and visual openness to a stairway. And that openness creates collision." Clients who are talking, eating and walking alongside your brand form the core of a customer-centric enterprise.
This article was originally posted on Forbes.com