A friend of mine works for a company that has been undergoing renovations. As such, there is a lot of clutter and workmen around, and it can be quite noisy. Unfortunately, her business requires her to meet clients frequently, which would normally mean inviting them to the office. She’s noticed that some colleagues bring clients in despite the office’s chaotic state, which makes her feel embarrassed. Instead, she prefers to invite clients to lunch at a nice restaurant, or meet them in a hotel lobby, where they can discuss business in a more civilized setting.
If I know someone important is coming to the office, I make sure I am prepared. Everything should be tidy, and I like to have fresh flowers and make sure the place smells nice and fresh. I make sure there are enough chairs for the group, and that water, tea, and coffee are on hand. I want to affirm my professional image and have my visitors feel welcomed and comfortable.
Of course, not everyone takes this kind of care. I’ve had meetings in offices that were covered with paperwork, newspapers, and dirty coffee mugs. Half the time was spent searching for an extra chair, or attending to the phone, because they hadn’t asked for their calls to be held. It made me feel uncomfortable and as though I was intruding upon their space, even if they had extended the invitation.
If you have a visitor, whether it’s to your home or office, offer a glass of water or hot beverage, and do your best to ensure that the space is tidy. You aren’t the only one making a first impression—your environment is too!