The reception area is the number one place you should focus on in terms of first impressions. Of course, every other part of your office matters too, but this is the very first in-person contact anyone has with your workplace.
First impressions matter. We’re visual beings, and we attach a mental picture to how we think a service or product is going to be. For instance, if the reception area is a mess, we automatically assume the entire experience with this company is going to be the same. Avoid those negative assumptions at all costs!
There are many different layouts and ideas for the modern reception area, but at the end of it all, going back to the very basics and thinking about etiquette is a sure-fire winner.
• Basic cleanliness is key! - Keep your reception area clean and tidy at all times. Make sure rubbish isn’t left lying around, that bins are emptied regularly, any marks or spills on the floor are cleaned up quickly, and that the reception desk isn’t piled high with box files, and trays. Keep everything out of sight, and streamlined for a more professional look.
• Confidentiality issues - We just mentioned about keeping office desks tidy, but that also means keeping anything sensitive or confidential far away from prying eyes. There should no confidential files or papers kept in the reception area.
• Make the process easy - Whether your reception area is large or small, make it easy for visitors to know what they should do when they walk into the space. For instance, if there is a check in screen, put it right in front of the door. If they need to head to the reception desk to inform you of their presence, position the desk in a clear place, and a sign, which tells them what to do. Making the process harder than it needs to be just stresses your visitors out before they’ve even sat down!
• Make facilities clear - Have signs to show guests where the bathrooms are, so they don’t have to ask. Some people feel embarrassed or even shy asking where the toilets are, so take that awkwardness away and put up some signs.
• Keep the design stylish, but not overwhelming - There are many office furniture solutions, which are ideal for reception areas. You need the area to look impressive, but you also need it to look welcoming. A reception which is so modern, it looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in outer space isn’t welcoming!
• Offer refreshments for visitors - Have a coffee machine visible and a water machine for guests who may want a drink whilst they’re waiting. You can either offer to make it yourself (if you have a small and quiet space), or you can point them in the direction of the machine and say ‘you’re welcome to help yourself to …’. Also, make sure there are rubbish bins in strategic positions.
• Make your guests comfortable - It goes without saying that your reception office furniture should be comfortable. Avoid hard chairs, and instead think about sofas or cushioned chairs. You could also have a coat stand and a place to store umbrellas. It’s also a good idea to avoid strong-smelling air fresheners, as these can make people sneeze, or cause headaches.
• Have some reading material handy - No matter how long your guest is waiting, make sure there are magazines, newspapers, and company-related literature on the tables for them to read. Keep these tidy and up to date at all times too.
• TV and music etiquette - If your reception area has a TV or there is music playing, keep the volume down. In terms of music, you also need to be very mindful of the type of music playing. A good idea for TV is to have the news playing, as guests can easily watch this and stay up to date whilst waiting.
• Service with a smile! - Of course, your receptionist should also be kind, attentive, helpful, and smile whenever someone comes into the reception area. This goes without saying! Your receptionist should also be comfortable on their reception chairs, to enable them to do their job without any grimaces of pain as they sit for long periods of time.
Ticking these boxes will certainly create a warm, welcoming, and impressive reception area for your visitors. From there, it’s up to you to wow them with whatever you’re selling, be it a product or a service.
Have you been in any particularly impressive reception areas lately? What made them so stand out?