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Professional Services

Reimagining the Office as a Client Experience Center
Stephen Beacham
Director of Design, Interiors
Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Brayer
Practice Leader, Interiors
New York
Gensler photograph by Robert Deitchler
Beth Ann Christiansen
Sr. Project Designer, Interiors
New York
Reimagining the Office as a Client Experience Center

The push to lure employees back to the office has eased as large professional services firms have fully embraced a hybrid model. According to HOK’s survey of professional services companies conducted in March 2024, 75% of them now are working in a hybrid model, with employees coming into the office 2-3 days per week, while 25% are remote-first, with staff using shared spaces/offices 2 days per pay period.

But it turns out the focus on getting employees back to the office was only Act One. In Act Two, these companies now are working to entice clients into their offices. To do this, they’re transforming their workspace into immersive client experience centers.

In years past, accounting, consulting and other professional services firms typically met clients in impersonal settings, often at the client’s location. Now, these firms are turning their offices into dynamic hospitality hubs, designed to impress, deepen relationships and provide tailored experiences. They’re taking control of the client interaction.

Gone are the days of formal lobbies and reception areas, sterile boardrooms and traditional workplace environments. In their place, professional services firms are embracing vibrant spaces like sunlit lounges, adaptable collaboration zones and open-concept studios. While some firms still segregate clients to specific floors, the trend we’re seeing is toward a seamless client experience throughout the entire office. ‘Front door, back door’ distinctions are becoming obsolete.

Our survey revealed that firms are providing a variety of work settings to support different work styles, including concentrative, interactive, process and research spaces.

Key changes include:

  • Creating enticing spaces
  • Accommodating new work patterns
  • Offering more private spaces for focus work
  • More collaborative spaces for interaction
  • Adding services and amenities

By creating spaces that embody their brand and mission, companies can inspire employees, attract top talent, and impress clients and partners.

HOK’s survey also found that the targeted usable square feet (USF) per person ranges from <100 USF to 200 USF, with an average of 140-160 USF. The variation is primarily driven by the type of services provided, be it consulting, accounting or other professional services.

In one recent project, we helped a global consulting firm reimagine its New York office: 60% became flexible workspaces, while the remaining 40% is dedicated to client collaboration. Exemplifying the emerging client-centric focus, this ratio is becoming the industry standard.

Choreographing the Ideal Client Experience

HOK has partnered with industry leaders like Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, EY, Gartner, KPMG and McKinsey to design spaces that choreograph a curated client experience. From the welcoming lobby to the final handshake, each touchpoint experienced by their visiting clients is designed to transcend transactional interactions and forge emotional connections. In today’s competitive landscape, loyalty often hinges on these personal bonds.

Below, we explore specific design examples for 10 client touchpoints—from the time a client approaches the building until their meeting begins—that can transform these professional services offices into client oases. The ideal client experience begins with a warm meeting invite with a map and personalized suggestions. Then, on the day of the client visit, careful planning and curation creates a seamless experience across every potential touchpoint.

1. Entry

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Many developers looking to renew their properties are revitalizing outdoor plazas adjacent to these buildings. First impressions matter, and a building’s entry is the perfect opportunity to create a strong brand identity.

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Alan Karchmer / 1771 N Street

2. Building Lobby

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Lobbies should spark connections, not just facilitate entries. Lush greenery, daylight, thoughtful design and a touch of the tenant’s story all help create a first impression that fosters community and sets the stage for something wonderful.

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3. Reception/Welcome Center

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From the moment clients enter, carefully designed reception areas immerse them in a world that embodies the firm’s brand ethos. More than just a waiting area, these curated spaces blend functionality and aesthetic appeal, creating a memorable experience that sets the stage for a successful partnership.

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HeroShot1 Reception

4. Café/Social Hub

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Far beyond mere dining spots, these environments serve as catalysts for collaboration and creativity. The blend of casual seating, communal tables and bold design elements creates an inviting tapestry. These cafes and social hubs combine practicality with a touch of hospitality, transforming them into hubs of connection and inspiration. Warning: These spaces and the associated caffeine may cause spontaneous creativity!

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5. Collaborative Workspace

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Collaborative workspaces blend modern design and hospitality to create inviting experiences. Comfortable lounge areas encourage informal interactions, while tech-enabled meeting spaces and striking design elements provide functionality and visual appeal. Thoughtfully selected materials, textures and greenery come together in bright, open layouts to inspire creativity and connection.

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6. Lounges

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More than just aesthetically pleasing, lounge areas act as visual retreats that foster collaboration, well-being and a strong sense of a firm’s unique culture—all while offering a welcome escape from the daily grind.

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7. Tech-Infused Gathering Spaces/Team Rooms

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Tech-infused gathering spaces are the beating heart of today’s professional services firms, designed to spark collaboration, communication and innovation. Sleek, multifunctional layouts featuring interactive displays and configurable furniture support various work modes, from focused tasks to creative brainstorming sessions. By incorporating natural elements and advanced technology, these spaces cater to the hybrid workforce, seamlessly connecting in-person and remote participants.

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8. Outdoor Retreat, Social and Work Areas

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Outdoor retreats, social spaces and versatile work areas help boost productivity, creativity and employee well-being. A little fresh air and social interaction can go a long way.

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9. Fitness/Wellness Center

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Fitness and wellness centers are the unsung workplace heroes, keeping employees energized and focused. By providing a convenient space for physical activity and mental rejuvenation, these facilities demonstrate a company’s commitment to its people, leading to reduced stress, increased productivity and a more positive work environment. A healthy body and mind are the cornerstones of a successful business—one rep at a time!

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10. Client Experience Center/Innovation Hub

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Finally, Client Experience Centers and Innovation Hubs play a vital role in professional services firms’ offices, serving as immersive spaces that showcase a firm’s capabilities, foster collaboration and inspire clients with sophisticated technology and interactive displays. These dynamic environments are the “wow factor” that deepens relationships and drives business growth.

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Sustainability and Well-Being

In addition to creating client-centric spaces, professional services firms overwhelmingly are prioritizing sustainability and well-being in their office designs. According to HOK’s survey, 75% of firms plan to pursue LEED certification, and all intend to incorporate core sustainability principles into future projects. Furthermore, 50% plan to pursue WELL certification, while all plan to integrate well-being principles into their projects, even without seeking any sort of formal certification.

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Let’s Connect

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HOK has been working with professional services firms for years to design creative workplace environments that act as the physical embodiment of their brand and values. Now, we’re working with them to create spaces in which they are proud to bring in clients. By blending work and hospitality zones, prioritizing client comfort and sparking collaboration, these redesigned spaces transform from mere offices to client stages for building the trust and loyalty that fuel long-term success.

If you have any questions, would like to learn more about how HOK can help your organization create client-centric workspaces or are interested in receiving the full professional services survey results, please reach out to:

Stephen Beacham
Director of Design, Interiors – Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Brayer
Practice Leader, Interiors – New York

Beth Ann Christiansen
Sr. Project Designer, Interiors – New York

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The Evolution of Work and Workplace
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