Why Decor is Worth the Price

I had a conversation a few days ago about the decor of an office, and why it might be worth the expenditure to have nice decor. Rather than give you my thoughts on the topic, I’ll repeat what we talked about, and let you weigh in with your opinions.

An accounting firm had recently acquired new offices, and invited over their clients to see it, essentially, an open house for the new office. One of the clients made a comment: I guess your fees are about to go up.

This was not a comment made in jest, nor was it a complaint. It was an expectation of what would likely become a reality.

When a client sees a nice office, with a receptionist at the door and paintings on the wall, there are a few thoughts that go through their heads. First, that the firm must be well-off to be able to afford those items. Second, their fees must be high to make it all worthwhile. Third, that they must have some clients already who think the firm is worth their fees.

When a potential client walks into an office, they will be taking a look around, to see whether or not they should be trusting their business to this firm. In this case, appearances are extremely important, so much so that firms will spend tens of thousands of dollars just to get the look they want. The justification is simple – they can sign more clients, at higher rates, on account of the favorable impression that the office creates.

The actual decor is not really relevant. I’ve worked in corporate gray cubicles for a few years, which I find depressing. At the same time, they are neat and clean (or at least easy to make look that way). My personal preference is for stained wood furniture, as I find that look to be more welcoming. Others prefer chrome and glass. It doesn’t matter so long as the look is balanced and professional.

It doesn’t have to be expensive either. You can buy desks at Ikea along with chairs, a series of bookshelves to create private spaces, some potted plants to bring life to the room, and have outfitted a dozen work stations for less than $2000.

How would you justify such expense? Or do you feel that this really is worth it, in which case, why not?