Smoking: Your Customer’s Inconvenient Truth?

On July 1st 2007, England introduced a new law to make virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces in England smoke-free. Although the change wasn’t readily accepted by everyone, you’d be hard pressed nowadays to find many who don’t see the benefits it brings to our society as a whole.

The Mad Men-esque days where chain smoking at the desk was acceptable are long behind us but we’re now faced with something far more problematic. Something far more difficult to manage that despite organisations such as Birmingham New Street Station best efforts (see image below), it’s something that will take more than words to fix.

Many companies, particularly those located in public spaces are unable to provide a dedicated smoking area for their staff. Instead, smokers go outside in all weathers and typically not too far from the entrance for shelter. Unfortunately, whilst the smoking ban is in place to help reduce second-hand smoke inhalation, allowing people to assemble by an entrance defeats the objective and customers have no option but to fight through the smoke.

And it’s not just the customers who are inconvenienced. Giving them no option but to smoke by the entrance compromises the employees’ personal downtime as their converesations (appropriate or not) are overheard by passers by.

In many cases, actions speak louder than words and that goes for those things that you may not necessarily see for yourself. Create a working environment that suits everyone including those in your peripheral vision. Whether it’s building a lounge area to prevent even the non-smoker living at their desk, or building a special smoking area where staff can relax in peace, your external perception to customers will be better for it.

Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.


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