At first glance

When the door opens onto the office, the reception is the initial point of contact; first impressions are made in this space and you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Not only is the reception area the first part of the office that the visitor sees, it’s also the area in which those visitors may be required to sit and wait for a short period of time. Taking this on board, the reception is arguably the most important part of any office environment and so it really is crucial to get it right.

As the first physical point of contact with the brand, and your overall office design, the physical state of the reception area reflects what your company is and where it’s at. It speaks volumes about your staff, your business and its inherent values.

Potential clients, business associates and, even, new recruits are using this space as a means to evaluate your company. Whether you are opting for bold and creative or discreet and stylish, that choice is an indicator of who you are, what you do and your approach to your business. This is your opportunity to convey how successful your business is and how professional you are.

Top tips…

Your logo – The visual expression of your brand, this can be designed to be most memorable. Make sure you present the best version of your logo to reinforce your brand – and then light it up ! Remind people where they are, whose office they are in and who is hosting them.

Comfort levels – Your reception area should feel warm and welcoming. If clients and potential customers are expected to wait in this area, make sure it’s a relaxed wait ! The seating should be of optimum comfort, with easy access to water coolers and free wi-fi. When having a fit out, the designer should plan to make the best use of this space, taking into account use of colour, floor coverings and any wall hangings.

Practicality – If possible, position the seating area well away from any doors so that visitors aren’t hit by blasts of air or inconvenienced by doors constantly opening and shutting within inches of their feet. If the space allows, place chairs and sofas close enough together so that guests can converse but far enough apart to allow separate groups an element of privacy.

Refreshments – As well as the obligatory water cooler, more offices are now using table top vending machines to give visitors the option of a hot beverage as soon as they arrive. If you decide to have hot drinks in reception, go the extra mile and put out cups and saucers. Just because the drinks come from a machine, doesn’t mean that they have to be consumed in paper or plastic cups. Other nice extras are bowls of sweets and chocolates.

Tidy – Whatever the design and layout, keep reception neat and tidy. If the reception area is messy, it doesn’t inspire confidence. Keep the clutter at bay and make sure all paper work is stashed away, out of sight.

Storage is critical as reception is the most likely point of drop off for deliveries and is often required to hold parcels and mailed items. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how well designed the space is, or how good the coffee is, if your reception is in a state of disarray !

Staffing – Finally, if you have a dedicated reception area, make sure it’s well-managed and that there are adequate members of trained staff to cover it so that visitors aren’t left hanging or uncertain of what to do.