With so many viable alternatives to in-person communication, the act of welcoming guests into your office might feel unfamiliar. However, inviting guests to your work space is just like having friends over to your house - similar hospitality considerations apply. The first is the aesthetic of your office. Imagine the fraternity from Animal House. Now imagine Kensington Palace. There is a cavernous range of hospitality choices between those those options, and some of these are listed here:
- Flowers. Fundraising? Go for clean and bare, but a plant or small bunch of flowers won’t kill anyone (hopefully) and will really make your place look nice. Go for blooms that aren’t pollen-wielding nightmares. Magnolias, orchids, or sunflowers are good choices.
- Hide the weird stuff. There is a fine line between office humor and stuff that will make your guests feel uncomfortable. Is there bust of your founder made of gummy bears in the conference room? That sounds great! Does April in customer service has a thing for taxidermy? Applaud her craftsmanship, but perhaps request that she keeps her extensive Stuffed With Love - Sea Creatures of the Bay collection at home.
- Reception area. Want to look homey and comfortable? Get comfortable chairs in your sitting area, spring for a magazine subscription, and put a slideshow on a tv so your guests can learn about your company and see all the cool things you do.
- Greenery in your office will not only look great, but can actually improve morale and productivity (you can find good office plants here).
However you choose to represent your company aesthetically, you should be sure to pay close attention to these basics:
- Welcome. Anyone coming to your office should receive a reception from someone, especially if you know they’re coming.
- Amenities. Offer your guest a drink. Bonus points for having various beverage options, like herbal and black teas, and non-dairy creamer for the lactose-challenged. Snacks are also encouraged. Bowls of candy in the reception area and in the conference room are both aesthetically pleasing and delicious! For an extra challenge, display candy in the same colors as your logo.
- Facilities. Let your guests know where the restroom is located so they don’t have to ask you when they’ve got to go. Otherwise they may have anxious flashbacks to second grade when Mr. Williams made them raise their hand and tell everyone they had to use the bathroom. Don’t be like Mr. Williams.
- Conversation. You know the employee you have who is amazing at coding, but not as amazing at small talk? Choose literally anyone else to keep your guest company. Extra points if that person is in business development or sales. Or likes people.
- Introductions. If your guest will be interacting with others, make sure to introduce them properly. Strangers wandering around the office unintroduced makes everyone feel weird, especially your guest.
- Saying goodbye. The final step is important, as this is the last impression your guest will have of you and your space. See them all the way to to the door, instead of just waving at them from your desk.
Having guests in your office can be rewarding and fun. Find your aesthetic, tend to the hospitality basics, and let the personality of your company and your coworkers shine through, and it’s bound to be a success!