Your office space can have an effect on your business meetings and your relationships with your clients. Meetings are more likely to be productive if everyone feels comfortable in their surroundings. Additionally, your thoughtfulness in accommodating your clients’ needs will be appreciated and remembered. Consider how the physical layout of your office and the amenities you offer can contribute to successful client meetings.
A Clean Interior
As soon as your client walks through the door, your office will make an impression, either positively or negatively. An office that looks shabby and cluttered, with dusty blinds and stains on the carpet may suggest carelessness or lack of attention to detail. That’s not the message you want to send to people you hope to do business with.
Pay special attention that entryway floors are kept swept clean and that the glass in doors and windows is spotless. In the reception area, desks and counters should be uncluttered and free of stacks of files or papers. Keep restrooms clean and trash cans empty, and discourage employees in the public view from eating or drinking at their desks. Tidiness in your own office is important, also. If you have to clear a chair so your client can sit down, it’s not likely they’ll feel welcome.
A Conference Room
Short meetings may be conducted in your personal office, but for formal meetings or meetings with several people, a dedicated conference room works best. There, you and your client can speak privately and without distractions such as phone calls, computers, or people passing back and forth in front of your door.
Using a conference room signals to your clients that you are focused on them and their interests, and that you’re ready to do business. A large table gives all meeting participants room to spread out and collaborate on documents, models, or other relevant items. Make sure the room is well lighted and the furniture is arranged to allow free movement and space for all attendees.
If you already have an office kitchen for your employees, consider upgrading it and keeping it stocked for guests. Invite your clients to take a break, have a cup of coffee, or get a snack. Ideally, an office kitchen should be equipped just like a home kitchen, with a refrigerator, microwave, sink, counters and cabinets, and a seating area.
With a K-cup coffee maker, you can offer your clients a variety of coffees and teas. Keep bottled water, juices, and soft drinks in the refrigerator, and furnish the sink with washing-up supplies. A microwave is also handy. Don’t forget cups, plates, and utensils.
An Outdoor Meeting Space
An outdoor space provides a great meeting venue when the weather is nice. On a patio or terrace, your clients will feel relaxed, and the change of scenery may inspire creativity and innovation. It may also be the perfect space for a long meeting that includes lunch or dinner.
Although the fresh air is energizing, you’ll need a shade of some sort. If your patio area doesn’t already have a roof, consider adding an awning, a louvered pergola, or sun sail. The shade is not only beneficial for your guests, but also for your outdoor furniture. You should keep wood furniture out of the sun to prevent damage.
When you and your clients are comfortable, you can better concentrate on your business. Ergonomic chairs enable good posture while sitting and can help prevent back aches and joint pains. Chairs that are adjustable in height will accommodate all your guests.
You’ll also want chairs that are easy to move around. Meetings with several people often require moving chairs for collaboration, small group discussions, or shared viewing. Lightweight chairs with casters may be the best choice.
WiFi has become a basic requirement of all offices these days, but it’s only the beginning in providing your clients with the technology they need. For meetings, it may also be important to have a projector or screen sharing technology to display information for everyone to see.
For larger conference rooms, wireless microphones may be helpful for audibility. Video or conferencing apps are also advisable, especially if you want to include virtual clients in the meeting along with onsite attendees. And, while high-tech is important, don’t overlook the basics. Your clients may need a photocopier, printer, power cords, USB hub, or a laptop.
Most clients will come prepared for the meeting, but there’s always a chance they have forgotten something essential or that unexpected needs will come up. Be prepared to cover any contingency with an array of basic office supplies, such as pens, notepads, paper and binder clips, staplers, sticky notes, and so on.
In fact, providing your clients with a pen, notebook, or other useful items at the start of the meeting is not only practical but can make a good impression that will last. It’s not unusual for businesses to give clients “swag” bags with necessities personalized with the business name, logo, and phone number.
Special Needs Accommodations
Your office space should be flexible enough to accommodate clients who may have a disability or special needs. Keep pathways wide enough for wheelchairs or mobility scooters, and be flexible in seating needs. Hard floors are usually easier to navigate than carpeting.
Some clients may bring a service dog or companion, so be ready to accommodate them as well. During a lengthy meeting, your client may need some private space, whether to take a break, make a phone call, store items, or take care of personal needs. Try to set aside a vacant office, extra conference room, or other private area.
As you set up your offices or workspace, think about the variety of clients you will be serving, and what you can do to help them feel relaxed and ready to conduct business. The meeting space you create, as well as the amenities you offer, can contribute to client meetings that are effective and productive for everyone involved.
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